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The Silent Protagonist's blog

10:25 AM on 11.21.2012

Fill your ears w/ win #4: I leveled up!

I leveled up today. Level 35 human, level 30 gaming enthusiast, This means I have to play this song first:

Now I'm going to destroy everything and build my own empire of death, just give me all your magicite (and cake) and no one will get hurt.

I'd write some sort of deep, reflective and retrospective kind of thing, but maybe I'll do that next week. That's too involved for pre-holiday madness (and I have the Black Friday megaboss to deal with, it has lots of HP). Recent gaming events for me have been finishing Halo 4, starting a new Fallout New Vegas campaign, seeing Wreck-It Ralph and picking up Adventure Time for 3DS.

Since I mentioned all that stuff, I guess it wouldn't do if some of it wasn't in today's playlist, eh? Let's get to it!

I'm only passively familiar with Adventure Time, seeing animated gifs of it around and such. I really got the game because WayFoward and Jake Kaufman can do no wrong in my eyes, so it not surprising that even a derivative version of the TV show's theme speaks to the heart of the game. I take this song to mean the Ice King is a real jerk!

I think Fallout New Vegas may be my favorite game of this generation. There are a lot of reasons for it from how well it implements player choice to its setting, stellar casting and the greater balance in gameplay. Then there's the cowboy vibe and soundtrack. I've yet to get around Red Dead Redemption, but this just feels almost like more of a western at times than it does a post-apocalyptic game full of raiders and mutants.

There's a song that encapsulates all the problems you have, from Guy Mitchell, "Heartaches by the number."

WayFoward hit us with two games this week! Aside from Adventure Time there was also the Mighty Switch Force HD update for Wii U. I think I'm a bit more partial to the 3DS version, but its still a great game I look forward to getting when I do get a Wii U. Here's some love you love you love from Andy Kaufman.

When i played Lollipop Chainsaw's arcade level earlier this year, the fact that Buckner and Garcia's "Pac-Man Fever" was included in the game put a huge grin on my face. I had that .45 when I was a kid. When I heard a a mock tribute to Wreck-It Ralph during the credits billed by the same group, I was really happy. Sadly, Garcia was only present in name, as he recently passed away, but I think it says a lot about the folks behind the movie that they wanted this level of detail put into the movie's universe and sound.

Aw, hell, let's throw in that classic fever as well.

While I'm on video game themed songs. Did you know Will Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff did one? This song is actually about their beatbox guy, Ready Rock C, who is apparently a human video game.

Speaking of beatboxes, before SSX was a like a cold war going downhill apparently Rahzel did some other work with EA Sports games like NBA Live 2000 (You know, back when EA wasn't so chickenshit about competing with the NBA 2k series).

OK, I said I was going to include Halo in here somewhere. Can it be done after veering off-track into hip-hop and beatbox territory?

It can, because this is the internet!

I found a guy, apparently part of TheBeatboxHitmanTwo - who beatboxed to the main theme to Halo: Combat Evolved! This is good because I was initially worried I was getting the Beyonce "Halo" song instead.


We started with Final Fantasy, Jake, Finn and then a country song and wound up here.with beatboxes. This is what happens when I let people into my head. Let's go back to Final Fantasy, but I'll pick something with a beat to it. This happens to be my favorite take on the "Prelude" theme from the series, from Final Fantasy X.


Now back to dungeon grinding out another year. You may send all hi-potions, ethers, ammo and stealth boys into the comment section below.   read

11:18 AM on 10.31.2012

Fill your ears w/ win #3: Trick or Treat, its Granny Rags!

OK, making this post has been rather chaotic. I wrote it for last week but got picky and decided to save all this Halloween stuff for Halloween because it was all spooky, haunted, eerie, depressing or ghoulish-sounding. So I waited, then i decided to clean my desktop and deleted it by accident. So I remade it with new additions, this time writing it directly to the blog - I clicked on the wrong tab and off it went into the void.

There weren't any music-heavy blogs in the last two weeks, but there were two new c-bloggers on the scene that not only introduced themselves, but shared a piece of music they created or put a spin on. Kingsharkboi does his take on a piece from Okami and Mikki Saturn raps on why today's "hardcore" gamers are just a bunch of sucka MCs, ya heard?

Anyway, I'm on my third playthrough of Dishonored. I played through two times on no-killsies because the Granny Rags glitch on the first run got me and I somehow found a path around that encounter the second time. Poor Slackjaw was left to his fate that go-round

I think it would be cool if they did some prequel DLC regarding Granny Rags, especially given her connections to The Outsider. Now I'm just going for high chaos and no detection. Aside from that also played and finished Halo CE HD (on normal, I'll revisit Legendary after Halo 4) and picked up Bioshock since I never got around to that one. Still working on SMT Nocturne and Code of Princess as well.

Also, I found this wicked little Tetris pumpkin online yesterday.

Any hooligan that smashes that pumpkin should be locked in a cell full of images of Willam Dafoe that look like this, as such images would rape their souls:

With that happy image in our heads, let's move on to the music!

I just found this one poking around. I wanted something from Ghosts 'n' Goblins because that's always a fun game to go back to even if it kills you. Tom Brier gives us a great ragtime-y take on the classic theme!

While we're on the classics, I guess it would be remiss to not have something from Castlevania, so here's a rock medley from the Minibosses!

And then you have your haunted house fare. I always enjoyed the theme to Luigi's Mansion. Well, it was the only melody the game had but it largely made it work. I loved how they employed it with Luigi nervously humming and Boos giggling along to the background music. Can't wait to play the 3DS sequel. For now, here's the rendition from Super Smash Bros. Brawl.

Pokemon isn't without a good haunting every now and then. I mean, you have to catch Ghost Type pokemon if you want to catch them all. The Old Chateau of Diamond/Pearl is one such place.

Did you know the main theme of Dishonored was actually drawn from an old Irish drinking song about playing pranks on the "Druken Sailor?" Seems Dunwall's version - "Drunken Whaler" - is a touch more morbid and the fact that children are singing it takes it into pretty creepy territory.
Don't let those kids near me, man. And I'm saying that as a masked assassin who stabs people at costume parties. They might be the Children of the Corn or something.

This isn't related to any video game, its just feels like it could have been something that fell into the Dishonored soundtrack and would not have felt out of place. Its pretty creepy too, but then, Tom Waits is kind of a scary old man as it is. This comes from his 1999 album, Mule Variations.

I like the post-apocalypse, but I'll give Shoji Meguro a rest this week as I've already made it known I'm a big SMT fan. Fallout is another post-apoc world I like to visit every now and then and this is a pretty desolate track.

Back in the early days of the first Xbox, there was a game called Gunvalkyrie by Smilebit. The game was a bitch to play because it relied too heavily on analog clicks for rocket propelled boosts to movement and evasion. This song creeped me out, though, mostly because of the distorted, echoing and insane musings of a mad scientist in the background.

There are a lot of picks I could have selected from Silent Hill, but this cover of the Elvis Presley classic "Always on my mind" - not unlike "Drunken Whaler" earlier - has its own dark twist. This version is not wistful, it has no pride - its more like a song for a dying lover as you watch them bleed out. This take is brought to us by Akira Yamaoka and Motoko Kusanagi... er... I mean, Mary McGlynn.

Say what you want about Shattered Memories, but this is still a great track.

To close out, I'm going to leave you with a remix of Dishonored's "Drunken Whaler" by a fellow named Aldo Chilton, who remixed it for a contest Bethesda held over the summer.

Happy Halloween, c-bloggers!   read

9:27 PM on 10.23.2012

Surviving the zombie apocalypse.

I don't really see why people get excited about zombie games. I see zombies every day and while they don't shuffle, moan or chew their own lips off they are still zombies. I've had enough of zombies, I don't really need them to be the centerpiece of the games I play. When I see the zombies in real life, I witness them veer off course while walking in the mall or clogging up passageways. Outside they walk straight out in front of moving cars and when driving they steer cars with their kneecaps. Using hands and keeping your eyes on the road is apparently overrated.

There was no T-virus outbreak but this is a zombie apocalypse all the same. The zombies are not extras in a new movie, either. Sadly, aside from a new law here and there, very little has been done to quarantine and eradicate the zombies. It has to be done on a zombie-by-zombie basis and by way of local, social confrontation.

I was once accused of being a zombie. My parents said that's what I was. I thought I was just really good at playing Tetris and walking at the same time - while chewing bubble gum, at that. I was able to multitask and avoid human debris quite easily. I even did this while reading books, whether it be a Garfield collection or a Star Trek novel. Oddly, the books were never taken away as punishment for not listening to my parents - just the Game Boy because video games apparently create zombies.

My parents really just took it away so they could play Tetris later, as evidenced by the revised top score list I would see when my Game Boy was returned to me.

Maybe they were just conditioning me for the world to come because they were zombie hunters of a sort, Now as I walk around with my 3DS and iPhone in my pocket I see the zombies everywhere. They crave not brains or flesh. A singular need to feed on the living is not what motivates them. No, if they come after you for anything it will be your bandwidth so they can make yet more inane tweets and post more cats or motivational pictures on Facebook.

They even seem intent on telling me who to vote for a lot as well, even though the choice is between the shiniest of two pieces of poo.

While the F2P market struggles and Zynga quietly lays people off, the undead drool, squee and moan over the iPad Mini announcement. The walkers insist that smartphone, tablets and social gaming are the wave of the future rather than accept them as the probable fads they are before technology leaps forward again. Much like the motion controls that drew them in before, they're starting to lose interest in their smartphone games - not even able to keep playing the latest F2P smartphone game for more than a few minutes before trying the next one.

But its really the insatiable desire to socialize and connect that causes zombification in the first place, not games themselves. In fact, it was never games that did this. No one plays games and walks at the same time, aside from twelve year-olds. Its socializing without restraint that has become a problem. This need to be in contact with the other zombies at all times is what really drives the zombie, not social contact with a human that's actually there before them.

The only way to solve this is to both move beyond the smartphone and by having zombie interventions and rehabilitation. Zombies need to be reintegrated into society by socializing with living, breathing humans in their proximity. We may have to also turn off WiFi connections and shield certain areas from 3G and 4G signals so the zombie has nowhere to run.

I am not a zombie because the training was so simple - just put the gadgets away as you attend to walking and driving in public places. I look others in the eye and smile or nod to greet them as I go about the world. I look both ways before I cross the street and if I use my iPhone for anything while driving, its to plug it in to my car stereo and enjoy some video game music as i drive - which I do with my hands, not my knees.

You, too, can rejoin the living!   read

10:00 PM on 10.19.2012

So I hear Bioware needs a new protagonist...

Dear Bioware,

Why don't you return my calls about auditions dates and times? After so many years of working with you and my extensive resume which spans thousands of games, I'm kinda crushed that it seems you don't want me in leading roles anymore.

Don't get me wrong, I'm appreciative for all the work I got in portraying various races in ME3's multiplayer, but it feels like even there I wasn't allowed to do as much as I could have done. That and getting into the Volus suits recently gave me muscle cramps I didn't know I could have. While I can certainly be anyone I put my mind to, I wasn't really cut out for all this work as an extra.

I'm a lead character. I can be the leading man or the leading lady. I can be a hero or villain. I'm pansexual, making it easy for me to be compatible with anyone of any sexuality or gender in the cast provided I'm attracted to them. Straight, gay, bi - I do it all.

Sure, you've had newer protagonists that can do that - I know that's what you're going to tell me, but all the leading men and women of the last few games have been human. I can do better. I can be any race you want me to be, which is huge. I could be a female elf, a male human, a Krogan lady, a lawful good Dark Elf dude or an Asari matriarch! This gives me access to rich cultural backgrounds and histories players enjoy and you can shape a story around. I can be anything the player needs me to be, molded to their will.

I'm just not much for talking is all.

I know that's not cool to you these days, but is that really so bad? I just got out of Dishonored and people seemed to really like me there as Corvo. I also recently starred in Skyrim, Rage, Fallout New Vegas and Devil Survivor Overclocked. It just seems like Bethesda and Atlus sign me up for the leading roles more than you do these days. I've already got the next Elder Scrolls, Shin Megami Tensei, Persona and Fallout game lined up. I have plenty of work but I miss working with you guys - we were so great together! It didn't have to end at Dragon Age: Origins.

Remember all those pranks I used to pull on Carth Onasi during KOTOR? He would always bring his bike to work so he could get to the cafeteria quickly. One day I hid the bike in Bastilla's dressing room - so when he went in there looking around he got smacked! Then another time I had it tied up to the top of the rafters and he had to get on a ladder to cut it down. He got so frustrated with me he locked his bike inside the back of his van, so I had the van towed!

Man, those were some great times.

And sorry to turn this somber, but I met FemShep before she died. She seemed like an OK gal when she wasn't punching reporters and I'm sure she was a great protagonist, but she sounded just like Dudebro Shepard when I actually listened to what she was saying. That kinda bothers me. FemShep just got Dudebro Shep's lines and parroted them. I wished she had gotten more of her own personality. Had it been me, she would have gotten it because the player could see her demeanor as whatever they pleased. She wouldn't be parroting anyone.

Now that you've killed both Shepards a few ways, maybe its time you let me have a shot at the leading roles again. I think given the chance people will like me more than Shepard because I can reflect more of their choices and make the experience more personal. We can only really tap the richness of the universes you create if you let go this notion the hero has to be a human that talks - I can be more than that.

And I'll save you the trouble or signing on two big-time voice actors for my numerous lead roles. That means more red, green and blue cupcakes for office parties, among other things. If you need me to do some talking, you can just get some staff to read some flavor lines and leave all the text bubble selections to me. It'll be just like old times, though!

Such menial tasks! Remember that line from Baldur's Gate? Its a classic. I loved playing that girl.

I've heard it was said for Dragon Age 3 that the protagonist would be voiced and options for other race were being considered but were seen as problematic due to the cost of modeling extra characters. That's a lame excuse - that never stopped you in BG and DA:O and I heard Gearbox try to use that line for Aliens Colonial Marine's initial lack of playable female characters. No one is buying it - you're just being lazy. Yes, we'll have to reshoot all these scenes as I play different races and sexes and say nothing, but I'd gladly spend all that time in the make-up chair and wearing prosthetics if that makes the gamers happy.

So guys, give me another chance. I'm looking foward to the opportunity of being an Elcor Mercenary with a secret past or Elven barmaid turned pilfering, stabbity rogue - in addition to being the hero of your next game. You don't need another Shepard or Hawke - just me.


The Silent Protagonist   read

6:28 PM on 10.18.2012

Pitches for Playstation commercials from my dream journal

I think we all need to be honest about how Sony advertises Playstation things. Once you get past the commercials with game footage or the Kevin Butler ones that persuade by being entertaining in a Colbert sort of way, what you have left is either created by doing loads of drugs or it was just pulled from some advertising exec's dream journal.

Since I've never really done serious drugs, I'm just going to go with the latter because when I dream its all full of WTF anyway. I blame video games. Nonetheless, I think with some work what I dream is all perfect for Sony since they all make about as much sense as what they're doing now.

So I'm going to pitch some commercial ideas because all of this is relevant to video games. All of these come from my dream journal. Okay, i don't really have a dream journal, I just remember all the really freakin' weird dreams when I have them

Pitch #1 - The Christmas Commercial

Its Christmas Eve and apparently I was dreaming that I couldn't sleep. It was so quiet and the stars pierced the darkness of that silent, holy night. Suddenly, there was a sonic boom in the distance and then like the Enterprise dropping out of warp there's Santa's sleigh slowing down on its approach to my house - but half of the reindeer aren't there, replaced by something long and green that I can't make out.

Not long after the sleigh falls out of view I hear the click of reindeer hooves on the roof and the sliding of the sleigh as well. I then realize Santa might not leave presents if he sees me awake so I hop in bed and try to fake sleeping. I hear the shuffling of many feet in the house. Did Santa bring his elves? I squint and I listen. My door slooooowly creaks open and I see the head of The Very Hungry Caterpillar peer in.

The door opens in full and Santa rides in on its back. In one hand he has a knife and in the other a rifle. They look about the room for a few moments and then Santa looks me right in my squinty eyes and chuckles to himself. He feeds the caterpillar one of my Transformers and a Cabbage Patch Kid. He then looks to me again, puts a finger to his lips and goes "Shhhhhh" and rides out laughing,

The door closes, my eyes snap open.


This pitch doesn't need much work, but If you really did want to add some Sony references, I suppose Santa could feed the Caterpillar an Helghast figurine and a Sack Boy doll. Santa could be played by Senator John McCain. If we need to remove The Hungry Caterpillar for legal reasons, Sony could put in Fat Princess instead.

After the kid's eyes snap open at the end - Playstation logo and some holiday wishes.


Pitch #2 - The Castle

I'm trapped in a dank, dark castle, but when I manage to get free of my chains and escape my cell I find I'm not the only prisoner trying to escape. Dirk the Daring and Princess Daphne of Dragon's Lair are also there looking for a way out. We decide to team up, but there's a problem. A giant Pac-Man - the one from the 80's cartoon - is patrolling the castle and he will gobble up any intruders or escapees on sight. All the corridors and passageways are lined with glowing dots and power pellets, too. As he goes about his business the dots and pellets respawn and his patrol cycles become faster and faster.

It takes a little time, but as we get closer and closer to the exit and escaping Pac-Man continues to speed up. When we reach the final stretch toward the exit we find we've run out of cover to hide behind. Pac-Man is going to see us and we're going to have to run like hell.

Just as we begin our dash to freedom, Dirk trips and falls, but there's no stopping now - I take Daphne's hand and we run until we exit and the gate slams shut behind us. We turn to see Dirk chewed up by Pac-Man. A horrific and gruesome death for the heroic knight, but Dirk's death allowed us our freedom. Pac-Man glares at us momentarily as he chews on Dirk, but eventually turns to resume his patrol since he can't exit the castle due to his size. Solemnly, Daphne and I turn to see the sunrise and Dirk's horse tied to a tree. We mount the horse and ride off into the distance.


Again we have some potential licensing issues here. Dirk and Daphne are going to have to go since Don Bluth doesn't like his characters in commercials. We'll replace them with Ethan from Heavy Rain and Ellen Fisher from Uncharted since I'm going to be getting the girl regardless. Ethan is, obviously, going to be there looking for Jason and will get eaten by Pac-Man, but not without some pained emotion on his face before it happens.

Me and Ellen have a romantic kiss, get on the horse and ride toward the sunrise.

Playstation logo.


Dream #3 - A Day at the Beach

It is a gorgeous summer day, with a cloudless sky and endless blue on the horizon. I'm a lifeguard on the beach, overseeing everyone's safety and saying bossy things at them on my megaphone. Suddenly the earth starts to shake in intervals and a gigantic bikini-clad Milla Jovovich - at least a mile tall, give or take - is wading down the coastline, not caring about the surfers, boogieboarders or boats she's knocking around or the people she's flattened.

She pauses in front of my lifeguard chair and looks down at me, then kneels down and draws a series of numbers in the sand. She stands back up, looks at me and does the "call me" gesture before stepping over me and walking into the city.

Moments later a pizza delivery car stops next to my chair. Apparently I had ordered a pizza, so I jump down to meet the pizza guy. To my surprise, Papa John's hires from the zoo now because the delivery guy was a panda. I ask If I can borrow a pen for a moment - because that's always the first thing you ask a panda - and he supplies me with one. I write down Giant Milla's number on the pizza box. After returning the pen I pay the panda three boxes of chalk for the pizza. He eats the boxes of chalk, nods and leaves.

I get back in my chair, enjoy my Hawaiian-style pizza and ponder where I could take Giant Milla on a date. Where does one go with a mile-high supermodel?


Playstation. There is nothing about this that isn't a Playstation commercial. Given how much work Sony gives Wes Paul Anderson I think we could get his wife Milla in this commercial and he could direct it, even add explosions if he wanted to. A panda also makes sense because there's a panda in Tekken and that keeps it gaming related.

There's nothing more I can really say here. All of these dreams and their WTF non-sequiturs really do seem to fit right in with Sony's style of advertising. I know to some people a couple of these dreams might even be nightmares, but I really don't see them as such. I see them as an opportunity to get into advertising with Sony to help them better reach their customers and make money doing it To me, caterpillar riding psycho Santas and Giant Millas are just day-to-day business.

If you want to pass my crappy surrealism for artsy commercials, go right on ahead. I'll take your money, Sony.


2:31 PM on 10.17.2012

Let me fill your ears with win #2: Code of Backflip Nocturne Edition

Last week's blog was fairly well-received and decided I'd make this a weekly thing. Easy and fun to do. We've had a couple other good music-based blogs in the last week by Occams Electric Toothbrush and ShadeOfLight. Go forth and fap them furiously.

Gamewise right now I'm pretty focused on Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne and Code of Princess. I'm kinda doing an "ultimate run" on Nocturne. Trying to do it all which may still take a bit given I have more demons to recruit, fuse and level up. My main goal was to restore Pixie, who is the first demon you recruit, but if you fuse her with another demon to create a new one and later fuse them to with others to make others you gotta keep tabs on where exactly her DNA goes. See, there's this special door in the special dungeon known as the Labyrinth of Amala (basically, its Hell) and it alters the demon with the Pixie DNA back into a Pixie that's level 80, has 30 in every stat and awesome spells. Plus you're reuniting with an old friend that's now more kickass than ever.


Now to go make our deal with the devil to get the True Demon ending!

I also recruited Dante. He said he'd work for me if I paid him a dollar and also got him some strawberry sundaes. He made this gracious offer after I beat his face in a few times. You can't turn down cheap labor like that.

I like to think of SMT Nocturne as the real DMC2 since Dante isn't so mopey and the game kinda is about avoiding damage while dealing as much as you can - just in a turn-based sense.

Code of Princess has been a very pleasant surprise. I only played a Guardian Heroes with friends back in the day since I didn't own a Saturn, but this game holds pretty true to my fond memories of the chaos that ensued there. Of all the characters so far, I actually favor Sister Hel, She's a nun with a mace... a very, very big mace. She's also painfully slow because of it, but she tends to make up for that by killing the hell out of things. Plus she's a healer, I hear those online players like healers.

All in all, Code of Princess may be my favorite 3DS game and its had a few memorable entries this year, so that's saying something.

Anyway, shall we begin the music? I think Backflip Corgi wants the music to start.


Jet Set Radio recently got its HD re-release (but sadly a delay for Vita) and while some critics (who pretend they played it on Dreamcast) seem content to take a dump on it, eff those guys. Jet Set Radio is still awesome - they're just not paying any mind to the time in which it was released. That's kind of important.

That was pretty funky and let's follow it up with something else pretty funky, but a touch lighter. When I played Final Fantasy XI, one of my favorite zone themes was "The Sanctuary of Zi'tah" by Naoshi Mizuta. The Star Onions - a band formed by him and other composers of FFXI did a rendition of it that's just as laid-back, but you'd bob your head to it if you were riding a chocobo.

This feels like it just fits in. This one's the Aurum Island theme by Yuzo Koshiro off the Kid Icarus Uprising soundtrack. Its actually rather eye opening how much of gaming Koshiro has touched. Actraiser, Sonic the Hedgehog, Etrian Odyssey - he's done a great deal.

Let's do some Code of Princess because this has some good stuff. Fans of Xenoblade Chronicles may be interested to know this game's OST is also by ACE. "Tsukikage's Theme" gives us a nice blend of traditional Japanese instrumentation with just the right amount of upright bass and light drums. Its a great theme even if the playable samurai its named for doesn't get a great deal of character development.

For a total change of pace, I'm gonna toss in Sister Hel's theme as well. It feels something like vampire slayers and demon hunters would rock out to, but I guess it works for really strict and pious nuns as well.

Speaking of demon hunters, here's Dante's theme from SMT Nocturne:

And I should probably follow this up with the protagonist's battle theme. I think the demonic voices in it are saying something about George Lucas, a regal beagle and Ross Perot. I'm not entirely sure.

Nocturne also has what is arguably one of the most badass overworld map themes. When I first heard this I thought it was some kind of boss battle theme because it just sounded so epic, but the first time I played through the game this really only ever played on the final overworld map where you just moved along to the final tower and all the bosses that wait within to kill you based on all your previous choices. And the traps, pitfalls and damage panels that await you on your way to level 666.

And I'll just close with some more Nocturne, the end credit theme, which is appropriately a nocturne itself. With guitars later

So what have you been listening to this week?   read

11:52 AM on 10.10.2012

Allow me to fill your ears with win.

Ahhhhh, new blog format. So fresh, so shiny. How I've longed to use it since Niero showed off the beta and I saw it could let me embed videos to my heart's content. Now people can see just what the hell I'm babbling about directly without having them constantly redirected to Youtube. I can whip out my obscure gaming and sometimes music preferences in full view without making you open new tabs. Welcome, blog reformat, my you live long and prosper... until Jim Sterling violates you in some cruel way like Jonathan Holmes.

So, ya like music? Silly question. Everyone likes music. Some people are picky, but my parents dumped me in rollerskating rink for an after school program at a young age, so I was made to listen to all kinds of stuff and ended up enjoying the full spectrum of genres... as I was tricking the Nintendo coin-ops in the arcade into taking nickels rather than quarters.

Anyway, let's get started. I'm gonna give you a nice little playlist to work with here from games and various remixers I've come across on the web just because its something new to do with this blog reformat. in fact, I'll probably be finding some of this on the fly since any good mix should flow. Here, have a baby polar bear.

First off is a song based off a save point theme. Not many games have a save point theme, but Ico did and a fellow named Super Green X liked it enough to make a lengthy trance remix out of it, which can be found on OC Remix, obviously.

I've been playing Metroid Prime again lately. Actually have some things I want to blog about this one since its actually an interesting time to be doing it, but I'll save that for later this week. That aside, Famouskoifish of Youtube makes use of Mario Paint Composer to do a pretty faithful rendition of "Phendrana Drifts"

The "Underground" theme of Super Mario Bros, has remained probably my favorite song from any Mario game. While I've pretty much gotten used to the version with the hip-hop beat since Super Mario Bros. 3, Dimmer of OC remix does rather inspired rock version and we need a little rock after all that breezy, trancy mellowness.

You were probably waiting for a {i]Final Fantasy[/i]theme of some kind to pop up eventually. Well, even though i didn't plan it, I felt one might fit after that Mario rock. No, not "One Winged Angel." Screw that overplayed theme, everyone defers to that. Gilgamesh has the best FF boss theme and this is proven by science. The Black Mages and "Clash on the Big Bridge" forever!

And really, if there was another boss theme that I personally feel trounces "One Winged Angel" outside of Final Fantasy, It's "Battle for Everyone's Souls" by Shoji Meguro from Persona 3. In fact, we'll be playing more of him later, but just this for now.. Seriously, anything that can just work in the Velvet Room theme is a winner

Ok, time to bring it back down, but let's stay frosty. Very few songs can keep their heads down, take cover and still shoot things but Halo once did with Martin O'Donnell's "Under the Cover of Night." This "Cloaked in Blackness" update comes from Halo CE Anniversary.

A good gaming playlist wouldn't be complete without something from Donkey Kong Country. It's not a rule, but should be. "Aquatic Ambiance" has always been a favorite of mine and DJ Ephixia has, well, my fix for that: Its sped up a tad, but actually still works.

To close up, I'm going to do some more Shoji Meguro. I don't know who mixed this Nico Video medley, but whoever it is they freaking love the guy even more than I do and have culled his work from Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne, Persona 2, Persona 3 Portable, Persona 4, Maken X, Digital Devil Saga, Devil Summoner (Raidou versions PS2), Soul Hackers SMT Strange Journey and Trauma Team... and it stays amazing for sixteen minutes. So enjoy this "Recarmdramix."

And that's all for now, that was probably only like 40+ minutes of your life, right? That was actually kinda fun. Might do it again sometime.

Stay classy.   read

10:23 PM on 10.06.2012

The secret past of Style Savvy's developer, Syn Sophia.

I've posted before that I'm rather obsessive about create-a-character modes. When Skyrim's Dawnguard expansion came out the option to remake my character's face and body shape was more than welcomed and resulted in this fabulous look I have only posted like three times in my own blog. As such, it stands to reason that a game all about dressing up characters would eat up lots of my time.

With that fascination/obsession in mind I downloaded the Style Savvy Trendsetters demo off of the 3DS eShop and, sure enough, my fixation with what my models were wearing quickly took hold. At first it felt like a game the folks behind Animal Crossing would do on between its iterations but once I did some digging on the developer Syn Sophia I learned something really awesome.

Syn Sophia was originally known as AKI Corporation. For those that are still going "Wut?" allow me to clarify:

Yeah, they made that. AKI Corporation made WCW vs NWO, Wrestlemania 2000, WWF No Mercy and Def Jam Vendetta - pretty much some of the best professional wrestling games ever made. And in Wrestlemania 2000's case, I was rather fixated on the create-a-wrestler mode even back then, making all sorts of nutty characters to do career mode with.

On top of that, AKI's games really strove to capture the atmosphere of the WWE and WCW's shows. They don't look like much now, but for its time it arguably did its presentation better than most sports games, possibly even the Madden series back then. It was also one of those precious few licensed properties that didn't suck - a feat also accomplished by Goldeneye also on N64 and Spiderman on PSX later. These games stood as proof that developers actually could put a lot of love and attention into a franchise and make a great game out of it for the fans. When AKI fell off the map, I was kinda bummed.

I happened to find that Style Savvy has similar qualities, though.. The same detail was now shifted into creating clothing ensembles for various models, customers and it certainly seems to strive for establishing the atmosphere of retail and runway environments. They might not use real clothing brands, but the game does do a good job of emulating many styles. Its all just steered worlds away from the testosterone-fueled soap operas for men that the WWE and WCW games were.

The demo and retail version could stand to have some characters that are a bit less the "twiggy" supermodel archetype but at least the characters of differing ethnicity aren't "white-washed" like they tend to be on covers of magazines, so there's at least that. Maybe some feedback to Nintendo and Syn Sophia will bring about realistic body types in a future sequel or even DLC. That this is the biggest gripe I have is not enough to bring the game down, I just think its important to promote different body types.

I mean, seriously, #3 has me worried she could become #4 when #1 and #2 are just fine - but i digress, there's enough good here to offset my gripes for now.

So Style Savvy Trendsetters is now is a thing I feel I need to have,. I often had wondered just what became of AKI and now that I know, I don't think I can turn down a charming little game like this from a developer that gave me great memories in the past. The fact that a purchase of the digital version gets the arcade version of Donkey Kong as a bonus kinda sweetens the deal, too.

Plus if this does well, maybe Syn Sophia wii return to roots with Style Savvymania: From the Runway to the Ring!   read

3:40 PM on 09.16.2012

"The best launch line-up since the Dreamcast!"

If there's an odd thing to say about launch line-ups, its that a launch line-up is "The best launch line-up since the Dreamcast." I see it happen with several people regarding any launch since, well, after the Dreamcast. Apparently the Dreamcast had a really great launch line-up. I can't really say because I didn't buy one at launch as a poor college student - I only got one year later when I was suckered into one of those two-year deals with MSN at Best Buy that would net me a Dreamcast for "free."

Meaning, I was pretty stupid back then. Two years of an internet service I couldn't use, but had to pay for. I really didn't think that one through.

Anyway, I feel like "best launch line-up since the Dreamcast" is just something people say for gamer cred and to make the console or handheld they're excited about look exciting to others. I mean, if we're to take Dreamcast's launch line-up as the best a console ever had that means whatever I relate it to is also really good and must be awesome.

And those that hated Dreamcast must also hate babies.

No one really even mentions what the great launch games were for Dreamcast because it is clearly not important when you're stating an absolute. That Dreamcast was ravaged by Playstation's comparable and cheaper library and crushed under the hype for the PS2 at the time is not important. That Dreamcast, like Saturn before it, was short-lived and had no games by 2002 - also not important.

Never mind that stuff. Dreamcast had a great launch, launches are important and that is all that matters for the sake of people who want to liken PS4's launch line-up to it after E3 2013.

No one ever compared PS2 to the Dreamcast, even though it did have a really great launch. This is because PS2 was the vile beast that had slain the heroic Dreamcast in its prime. Well, that's how the remaining embittered Dreamcast fans would later frame it, anyway. I thought the PS2 launch was good, not so much the nine-month dry spell that came after, but all systems have that no matter how much Vita fans sweep it under the rug. At least they can play Final Fantasy VII again now.

This Dreamcast comparison really started with the Xbox, which inherited just a tiny bit of Dreamcast's glory in the form of exclusives like Jet Set Radio Future, Gunvalkyrie, Crazy Taxi 3, Panzer Dragoon Orta and Shenmue II. It was a savvy move by MS to lure some Dreamcast fans into a console that would eventually be buried in angry, brown shooters. Most of the exclusives were indeed good, but I'm not sure about Gunvalkyrie going along with that that "glory' bit. I thought the soundtrack and its insane monologues were cool, though.

The clever swine and porcupine have gone their separate ways - and neither one has spoken for a thousand years and days.

For a console to even begin to warrant a comparison to Dreamcast, its games must be high on ambition, a mixed bag on execution and generally make people look at it and go "WTF." Sega was the Master of WTF in the Dreamcast era. Space Channel 5, Crazy Taxi, Samba de Amigo, Jet Set Radio, Seaman and Typing of the Dead all make you wonder what world you just fell into and why you are so happy to be there. If that era of Sega games had its own gated community then Wario Ware, Katamari Damacy and No Heroes Allowed! would be invited right in because they are straight-up bonkers.

So basically, there have been no Dreamcasts since the Dreamcast. Dreamcast-esque games, perhaps, but no console has really claimed the mantle. One does not simply compare another console's launch to that of the Dreamcast or even a console's lifespan to it because of the density of insane content required will not be able to be matched within two years - and then console would die and the platform holder would go third party.

If you're wishing this on your future platform of choice, do so at your own peril.

There will never be another Dreamcast, no matter how much you want there to be one. The Vita is clearly not a Dreamcast and I don't see how the Wii U will be one. I really think that spirit has passed on to the indie market where risks are taken on a regular basis. Its not in the mainstream market now, save for rare moments like Rhythm Thief, Tokyo Jungle or Rhythm Heaven Fever. The only games even in spitting distance of Dreamcastyness for Wii U right now are The Wonderful 101 and Tank! Tank! Tank!

What the Dreamcast has is a special place in history and perhaps as it fades into retro status in the years to come its spirit will continue to live on in other ways. There was lots to love about the Sega Dreamcast and while that goodwill may not be shared by fans toward the Sega of today its kind of unfair to both Dreamcast and other consoles to compare them to each other. Dreamcast catered to a special niche in a risky time to be doing so and that's what made it a real standout. I don't think any launch line-up or console could recapture the zany times of that little white box   read

5:19 AM on 09.02.2012

Music that made a summer - Sega's Quartet

Sometimes a song gets stuck in your head. Sometimes it get stuck there for over 20 years, Such is the case of Sega's Quartet for me, composed by the relatively unsung Katsuhiro Hayashi. He was a master of FM Synthesis that worked with Sega from the 80s and left several years back, but his work on this game is every bit as memorable to me as legends like Koji Kondo or Nobuo Uematsu. If you need to know what FM Synthesis is, just click here, but if you've played any old Sonic game or just Etrian Odyssey, you can expect some great stuff in the video links below.

Quartet isn't a game that would stand the test of time. It was - more or less - Sega's answer to the first four-player arcade game, Gauntlet. Yeah, yeah, WARRIOR NEEDS FOOD BADLY. That Gauntlet, but this is about Quartet. It clearly wasn't a winner for arcade nostalgia, but perhaps after this post you'll see why it should earn some.

So have a listen as you read!

Click here to start the music.

During the summer of '87 my mother and stepfather worked at a booth at Water Country USA in Williamsburg, VA. Pretty much every day of the summer I was wandering around the park, which was more freedom than a ten year-old usually gets. I'd start with the wave pool, then move over to the relaxing inner tube river, fetch food and drink for my parents, attend the stunt diving and sea lion show - because seeing divers light themselves on fire and sea lions spit on hosts never gets old.

And just about every moment in between those I could be found in the arcade at the Quartet machine. I always found it a touch strange that people with sopping wet swimming trunks, swimsuits and hair were allowed around these electrical coin ops, but then, it was a water park. It also had a distinct smell from other arcades - the typical mix of cork, burnt wood, nicotine, dried bubble gum, spilt sno-cone syrup, cola, candy corn and popcorn were now accompanied by a layer of chlorine.

Quartet was a side-scrolling platform shooter perhaps best described as Contra with jetpacks and lots of death. Players worked together to defeat enemies, find the key and complete the level and in the meantime, ninja loot power-ups and screw each other over so everyone could try to get bragging rights at the end of the level. Anyone that's played Bomberman, Zelda Four Swords, New Super Mario Bros. Wii or just Uno knows the experience I'm getting at.

Its like this with more back-stabbing.

Those that owned Spiderman: The Video Game on Genesis might be interested to know that "Oki-Rap" and "FM Funk" were snatched from Quartet for some of Spidy's music.

Sega later released remastered editions of many Sega classics in the Sega Ages collection on PS2, but Sega being the cruel bastards they can sometimes be, they released none of them in the West. I'm still rather bitter about that point, actually, but this is the same company that still hasn't made Shenmue III and seems reluctant to rerelease their Dreamcast classics in a logical fashion.

Oh well, at least Jet Set Radio is doing it right.

Still, thanks to the eventual rise of YouTube, some of the arranged music was able to reach our ears and it was pretty good stuff. Some of Katsuhiro Hayshi's work even has made its way into Project Diva Arcade in Japan, so while Quartet may never see a rerelease or a XBLA/PSN remake we'll always have the music and that's something.


10:39 PM on 08.19.2012

A silent protagonist begs you to speak in fighters

Its been so quiet on the blogs today. Kind of like when I play fighters online and there's no one talking. Actually, there's almost always no one talking, but perhaps there are two people in two different places swearing at a TV screen and blaming lag for losing.

I'm not much of a social gamer to start with. Its not that I hate talking, its just that I don't feel a huge competitive streak and especially not in places where there's no talking. I don't like that low-class epithet spewing shit I hear in FPS, so I tend to not play them online, but I kind of do expect people playing fighters to talk every now and then. I mean, what's the point in me having a headset if no one talks? I go online and whether its PSN or Xbox Live I don't hear trash talk in fighters - just silence.

Oh sure, go on and tell me "they're probably just concentrating'." Well, fuck that, I want to hear you talk shit and show me your wits along with your moves. We didn't "concentrate" when I grew up in the arcades - we talked shit, seeing if you could make the other guy laugh was kind of an advantage on top of knowing the movelist and combos.

I know why some of you do it, though. Its because you think you can tag team with your friend that's better than you and think I won't notice. Yeah, I'm totally not going to notice I blew you out in the first round and then you awakened to incredible skill in the next one. People have tag-teamed in the arcade in public view. It was still lame back then and its still lame now - but at least they weren't hiding how lame they were.


But oh well, this is just a shortblog rant. I've been playing Persona 4 Arena all week and I'm kind of getting better with Elizabeth. I've gone from constantly losing to about 33 percent of my playing being wins. Liz does have low HP, but she's got a fun moveset so I'm sticking with her. She also seems to just have more fun than anyone else in the game.

Labrys' story also got me a little weepy, which is a first for a fighting game. Well, there was no real fighting in her story - just text, but it was really good text that I enjoyed reading with my seeing organs and thinking about with by mind.

Also, I wish Yu Narukami would shut the fuck up. The guy used to not say anything and now he has all these weird mind-thoughts. I would never have thought that way about Nanako if I were still occupying his brain. Sister complex indeed. Damned perv is what he is now.

So I beat him up. Oh well, its not as bad as when Jak started talking in Jak II, so I guess this is slight progress.[b]   read

12:14 PM on 07.04.2012

Why a Pokémon MMO would be a bad idea.

Seems like every few Pokémon topics or so someone says something along the lines of "Nintendo should totally make Pokémon into an MMO, it would make loads of money!"

I'll admit it sounds cool on paper, but it's a terrible idea for Nintendo to pursue and it would suck out the soul of the series. The only kind of person who thinks it would be a cool idea has not played an MMO or Pokémon enough to consider what would be lost.

If we break Pokémon down, it is to handhelds what The Elder Scrolls is to consoles and PCs... minus the bugs plus competitive multiplayer. In terms of single player you're free to be whatever kind of pokémon trainer or ex-con that you wish to be. What's more is no one imposes a particular playstyle on you too much. A pokémon trainer has to mix it up for gym battles just as a mage might consider having a mace or a atronach summon as a fallback. Outside of that, save the world or don't, best the Elite Four or just breed critters for trade. The world is your oyster and you are seldom bound by time to do anything.

Stepping out of the games for a moment, talking to friends about Skyrim or Pokémon is often to relate a story of your adventures or what your team is rather than telling your friends what they should do. Then there's trading pokémon and downloading mods for TES on PC. The community exists to augment these single player experiences without imposing themselves on other players.

Ultimately these are games about taking pride in what you do. Freedom and pride are the emotional core of Pokémon and TES.

Yeah, another excuse to post my sexy Dovahkiin.

However, this is not what Pokémon is like competitively and anyone that knows MMOs is wary of the genre being applied to TES for similar reasons.

In competitive Pokémon multiplayer (as well as co-op multiplayer in other games) you can "do it wrong" and people do tend to impose upon you if you seek advice. Competitive Pokémon is about tiers, meta-game elements like EV training and picking the right TMs and HMs for the best pokémon. Brought into the context of an MMORPG, this would trickle down and seep into every corner of the game, even with co-op play and soloing. Gym battles, beauty pageants, breeding - it will all inevitably be tainted by and shoved through the lens of high level play and efficiency. This is because of a persistent internal community creating peer pressure. Now people are scared to be seen "doing it wrong" - they don't want to be seen as noobs.

This is why TES fans are wary of The Elder Scrolls Online. They know that "Gee, this enchanted bow is neat. Oh, look! Butterflies!" quality is going to be sucked out systematically by the community's need for efficacy in high level play. TES might be a match for MMOs, but not without giving up much of what makes it special.  You may not get to be that Battlemage in the way you were hoping. 

Just look at Final Fantasy's Red Mage. He's basically the same idea - white magic, black magic and a sword, but since he's got that white magic he's the "tag, you're it" healer of FFXI Online. Even though he has that sword and can cast fire magic in groups it's generally preferred he heals and buffs people instead. 

Fun. He might as well be a White Mage.

Yet this isn't meant to be oppressive, this is because efficient use of time is really important in an MMO, especially for high-end raids and even hunting rare monsters. Everyone wants to get in, get out, get stuff and go about their lives or a lack of one. Everyone needs to be on the same page and ready to go, but if Pokémon became an MMO the trainer who lovingly raised his full Charmander team might be crushed to find it is not wanted or accepted. He probably wouldn't even be invited to join a league after submitting an application, not to mention he's any Water Type's punching bag.

Yes, I did say "application." Joining an endgame guild is like finding a real job. Fun, right? Your life as an adventurer, reduced to a one page of highlights -   preferably one confirming to the needs of the guild.

The external social element of TES and Pokémon that makes them fun now is replaced by a persistent online community with a need for efficient time use and digs deep into the metagame. Freedom is replaced by conformity and pride is broken and subjugated. The Eevee you loved you'd later look at with disdain for not being ideal for EV training.

Let me reiterate - an MMO endgame and high level content strategy is not intended to be sinister or oppressive, just efficient. This has to be respected for group functions, even if it does act like a wet blanket to your personal ambitions and Charmanders. It is what it is.

But it's clearly not a good fit for all of Pokémon as it is already in the competitive multiplayer and not fun for everyone for the above reasons. TES players are chilly toward TESO  because Skyrim, well, it does the job and does it well without giving up that freedom and external social boost Pokémon single player also shares.

So let's take that thought about the Pokémon MMO and Torchic.

I mean, torch it. Yeah.   read

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