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Zac Bentz
11:15 PM on 08.24.2009

On Saturday, April 11th, I found myself shaking hands with on of my heroes, Nobuo Uematsu. The man has written not only some of the best video game music around, but some of the best music ever, period.

I talked to both Uematsu-san and Distant Worlds director and conductor Arnie Roth before their performance in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It was an amazing day and night all around. They granted me a huge amount of time to talk, and the performance was absolutely spot on.

Some of the highlights of the interview:

DID YOU KNOW: Uematsu actually puts very little of his own feeling into his video game work?

DID YOU KNOW: He doesn't really like writing battle music?

DID YOU KNOW: The Distant Worlds program is a sort of "greatest hits," but is also changing constantly

Head on over to Japantor for much more.

[You can also Digg it here.]

Chances are good that most of us around here first heard the band Freezepop in some Guitar Band Rock Hero game. Oh maybe you saw my interview with them a while back here on Destructoid.

Well, now's your chance to get your fat ass up and out of the house and into a sweaty, smelly club and see the band in person. Freezepop will be kicking off their mid-west tour this Friday, ripping it up through April and into May. Check it out, and pass it on! BLEEP BLORP!

Midwest tour!
Friday, April 3 - New York City, The Studio at Webster Hall, 125 East 11th St btwn 3rd and 4th Ave. With Miss Michigan, Echostream, and Turbotronics. Early show, doors at 7, we're on around 10. 19+, $15.

Saturday, April 4 - Tekkoshocon Anime Convention, Pittsburgh, PA. At the David L. Lawrence Convention Center/Westin Hotel, 1000 Ft. Duquesne Blvd. We're on around 9:30. $40 for Saturday pass, $50 for 3-day pass, all ages!

Monday, April 6 - Toledo, OH, at Frankie's, 308 Main St. With Sinker. Doors at 8. $10 in advance, $12 day of show, All ages.

Tuesday, April 7 - Lansing, MI at Mac's Bar, 2700 e. michigan ave. With Dr. Device. Early show! Doors at 5, we're on around 8. $8 in advance, $10 day of show. All ages.

Wednesday, April 8 - Chicago, IL, at Subterranean, 2011 W. North Ave. With Glasko and Boho Paisley. Doors at 8, we're on around 10:30. $10 advance, $12 day of show. 17+.

Thursday, April 9 - Indianapolis, IN, at Talbott Street, 2145 N Talbott St. Doors at 9. $11 advance, $16 at the door. 21+.

Saturday, April 11 - Minneapolis, MN, at Triple Rock, 629 Cedar Ave. Early show, doors at 5, we're on at 7. With Somegirl and Avenpitch. $10 in advance, $12 day of show. All ages.

Sunday, April 12 - LaCrosse, WI, at the Warehouse, 328 Pearl St. Doors at 7, we're on at 8:30. $10, all ages.

Tuesday, April 14 - Covington, KY, at the Mad Hatter, 620 Scott St. Doors at 8, we're on around 10. With Natalie Portman's Shaved Head, the Seedy Seeds, and the Koala Fires. $10, all ages.

Thursday, April 16 - Washington, DC at Chief Ike's Mambo Room, 1725 Columbia Road NW. Doors at 9, we're on around 10:30. $12 advance, $15 day of show. 21+.

Friday, April 17 - Baltimore, MD, at The Depot, 1728 N Charles Street. With Red This Ever and DJ Doug. Doors at 9. $10, 18+.

Saturday, April 18 - Philadelphia, PA, at North Star Bar, 2639 Poplar Street. With Plushgun and In Secrecy. Doors at 9, we're on around midnight. $10 in advance, $13 day of show. 21+

And beyond...
Sunday, May 3 - Pittsburgh, PA at Pegasus Lounge, 818 Liberty Ave. Doors at 8. $12 in advance, $14 at the door. All ages!

Saturday, May 9 - Wilmington, NC at The New Deal, 3709 Oleander Drive in The New Hanover Center. It's a fashion show/handmade market to benefit the DREAMS Center for the Arts, and it's all ages! Sponsored by Edge of Urge, lots more info on their site here.

The video above is the opening fanfare written by Jonne Valtonen for the forthcoming Symphonic Fantasies concert. Symphonic Fantasies is the new SquareEnix tribute concert arranged by Valtonen and conducted by Arnie Roth, the man behind the baton for many other video game themed productions (including Germany's previous Symphonic Shades event and the forthcoming Final Fantasy-centric Distant Worlds world tour...more on that later.) According to organizer Thomas Boecker:

"The concert will be performed on September 12, 2009 by the WDR Radio Orchestra, WDR Radio Choir, and several soloists (e. g. Rony Barrak), conducted by Arnie Roth. We are glad to have more than 120 professional musicians on stage again, this time at the beautiful 2,000+ venue Philharmonic Hall in Cologne, Germany. We will perform 70+ minutes of music, and for that we decided for the Final Fantasy series, the Kingdom Hearts series, the Mana series, and the Chrono series."

As for the opening fanfare, Valtonen describes it himself:

"My fanfare is a spirit lifter and appetizer that hopefully takes your mind off from your normal daily activities and sets you in a concert hall. Like when you start reading a book, it always takes some pages before you really get into the story and the real world disappears around you. So that when the music of SquareEnix starts, you would already be tuned to the orchestra and on the music and not somewhere else mentally."

More info on the show should arrive sometime in April.

(Special thanks to Thomas for the continued updates!)

That's the new video for "Phantom Planet" from Beat Crusaders Obviously it's not made 100% in LittleBigPlanet, but they did a good job of emulating the style and breaking it out into the "real world."

You might also know these guys from the opening theme to the Beck anime series, "Hit in the USA":

(via JPop Japan)

Zac Bentz
11:09 AM on 02.15.2009

This post is a response to Topher's review of Flower. It's also about Anthony and Brad's review as well, but to a lesser extent. This could have just gone into the comments, but it ballooned in size pretty fast. Instead of clogging the comments with a few hundred words (and probably having them lost in some spammy troll war), I thought I'd try and break down my arguments here.


Sorry Topher, but I feel that your entire review is based on a false premise. The problem comes from your preconceived notions, not the game itself.

The kinds of MASSIVE SPOILERS you're talking about are there to do exactly the things you are having problems with. The game is about a city that has lost its life. Death has been moving outward from its twisted shell, spreading across the land. The wind/flower is tasked with setting things right, bringing life back to the world. Things are all fine and happy in the fine and happy natural world, then suddenly the wind/flower sees that things have gone horribly wrong. Yet it doesn't relish the fact that man-made steel and electricity are finally destroying themselves. Instead, it struggles to make that city a brighter place, working together with the humans, celebrating the great things they can accomplish.

Working together with nature is the real story behind Flower. It could easily have gone far off into another direction, where the wind/flower forever eradicates the city, leaving a huge field full of nothing but grass and flowers. It could have done a flappy-armed hippie dance on top of humanities grave. It doesn't, and that's what takes Flower to a much more profound level than many other simple “do one thing and do it well” games. It has a greater depth and sophistication than you are giving it credit for.

The "shifts" you talk about are the perfect way to convey this sense of shock. Remember, this is a game without dialog and without any real characters. The story is told through the changes happening outside the room while the wind/flower is working hard to make things right, telling the story from both sides at the same time. We see the broken city from the inside, as the wind/flower works from the outside. The shock of having a blackened world suddenly appear out of the darkness is when the real game begins. I think that all of the reviews have pointed that out, but for all the wrong reasons. Think about it: What if the game just continued on for another three or four levels of the exact same leisurely pace? Would you have been happy with that, or would you have been complaining about how it never really did anything interesting beyond the basic gameplay? I never hear people complaining that there was too much shooting in Doom or too much jumping in Mega Man, but I'll bet that if Flower was nothing but the first stage over and over for two hours that people would be giving it a universal thumbs down. There needs to be some sort of story, some sort of reason to keep playing.

I think you approached the game from a completely incorrect angle. You were looking for some sort of pretty, simple and "zen" (whatever that means) experience. Something that was easy and wasn't going to make you "play a game." Instead of eating hungrily from the ripe fruit it provided, you spit it out because it had too much taste.

To be fair, I think that Brad giving it a 10 is also off the mark. I don't really like talking about numbers and scores, but I think it's safe to say that Flower is not a game for everyone. If you're the type of “hardcore” gamer that only uses games to measure your virtual penis, then Flower is not for you. If you play games because you actually love to play games and experience the quiet joy they can provide, then Flower is a must have.
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