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1:59 AM on 05.06.2015

My Dog Ate My Poke-Homework: A tipsy moment with Amxwolf

I don't anticipate that this is going to be a very popular blog post. But I feel it's kinda important that I have a dialogue with other players out there about our old friend Pokemon. Can we talk for a minute about how Pokemon has into almost turned a subject worth a degree within the last two decades?

Yes I am Amxwolf, Poke-HD.


I like Pokemon as much as the next gal; I really do. What is not to like about it? With every new adventure, the game sets you up with a world to explore, and encyclopedia to fill, and a plethora of tasks and challenges to complete. We're all out there to get the 8-16 gym badges and defeat The Elite Four; ALOT of us out there to do even more. We are compelled to complete the Pokedex to the best of our ability and we love nothing more than spending hours and hours training our Pokemon; sweating, panicking, and working towards the common goal of being "The Best There Ever Was."


But seriously. Real talk for a second? Pokemon has become A CHORE.


I recently purchased Pokemon Omega Ruby and don't get me wrong, I've been wanting to pick this game up for a while now. I'm one of those people that is married to the first generation of Pokemon games. I grew up on Red and Blue version, and the only upgrade I enjoyed on Yellow was that the player had the priviledge of getting all of the starters in one go instead of glitching them with Missing No. or trading with a friend (on a link cable for you youngsters) for the info. Heck, I even got into Gold and Silver, back in the 250-days where filling the Pokedex was an attainable goal. And when Heart Gold and Soul Silver came out, with the ability to walk around with a sprite of every Pokemon behind you? I was in Poke-heaven.


But Pokemon has now turned from a Labor of Love to me into just straight labor.


I guess you can classify me as a Completionist, but the way I have always played the game is studying how each specific Pokemon evolves, learning the moveset, calculating it, and then bringing each individual Pokemon I add to my Pokedex to it's highest potential. But in recent titles, this has turned into a player-hositle excursion.
Alot and I mean ALOT of the Pokemon you find in generations four and onward are riddled with odd learnsets and abilities based on exactly WHEN you evolve them. Some evolutionary stages learn certain types of moves while simultaniously, an earlier evolution will learn an entirely different move you might want, at a later level. While this may be supported by a theory that "Pokemon evolving and adapting in such a way represents how living creatures in our world will adapt to certain environments based on their individual atributes," it really is not an easily translatable theory into a game which is designed (usually) to have an end game; a finality and goal.


I've had this game for about a month now and am excrutiatingly frustrated that in order for me to play the way I learned to play when I was just a wee tot, I need to go online to sources like bulbapedia.com and seribii.net to gather information that other players have provided to determine at what point I need to evolve a Pokemon to get the learnset I desire. And let's be real for a second? THERE ARE SOME POKEMON THAT I DON'T EVEN UNDERSTAND HOW SOMEONE COULD FIGURE IT OUT WITHOUT A STRATEGY GUIDE. There is literally a Pokemon in later generations, that in order to get the Pokedex info, you have to have an empty slot in your team (you know? like how you always only carry 5 out of 6 Pokemon with you ever since your 3rd route) as well as a Pokeball in your backpack, in order to get.


Who figured that out? How? I weep for that person. Seriously.


Am I alone in this? I love Pokemon like a mother loves a child, but I feel...unsure. The ever-expanding Pokedex keeps getting larger and I keep up'ing the calculations on how long one must play in order to complete the Pokedex. And to top it all off there are Legendary Pokemon and Event Pokemon which cannot be bred that keep popping up everywhere, and if you don't live in the right continent, then you are fresh out of luck....it's homework it's JUST. HOMEWORK. And I'm not a fan of extra Homework.
I keep pining for the days where the strategy was to know the best move a single Pokemon and it's evolutions could learn, and then hold onto the first stage until it reached it. It was still just as difficult, but with less strain. But I guess those days are over. God forbid somoene try to do the Poke-rap. What are we at now? 700?

 

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12:48 AM on 02.04.2015

Amiibo....and it's gone.

It's no secret to my friends that Nintendo and I have a long standing financial relationship. Since I was merely a tot, I have been almost exclusively buying Nintendo's gaming products and seldom have I ever been disappointed our arrangements. I would hand a retailer some money. They would hand me a product with that little oval logo, and I would return home satisfied with that "New-Game" smell. With our history fresh on the brain, as a consumer, I am beside myself with crippling concern and confusion about my future with Nintendo's products when I stand back and take a good, hard look at the amiibo situation, because let's face it: it's a situation here in America.

When amiibo was first announced, I hung with the crowd and listened as the people I knew and trusted to be Nintendo representatives relay that amiibo were never meant to be collectables. Sure, they would be in limited supply, but you would get the ones you wanted and be happy. And that was exactly what I intended to do. I like to consider myself a smart consumer. From the very start, I knew that ALL of the released amiibo would be an absolute stretch for my wallet; there are a lot of characters that would likely be beyond my interest, and more power to the people that wanted to purchase those figurines. What I did NOT anticipate was that A LOT of the characters I wanted to purchase were going to be out of my price range, and sometimes out of my grasp, hours after being in stores (and in some cases, NOT in stores).

My situation may be slightly unique compared to other Nintendo fans in the market for amiibo. In order for me to reach a retailer that is selling amiibo, I must travel AT LEAST 30 miles. It doesn't seem like much in light of how far these $13.99 toys travel to get to the states, but we are talking about getting up at 6am in order to get to the nearest store that sells them at 8am, only to stand in line with anyone else in the area, to possibly get their hands on one. Even that fact may still sound like a bit of a "how-could-this-happen-to-me" moment, but I also would like to explain with a small story that a lot of other collectors of amiibo can relate to.

With the most recent wave of amiibo being released at Target in the US (on a scattered schedule I might add), I got up super early in order to get to a retailer nearby that would have the one I desired, namely Rosalina & Luma. I also was interested in picking up a Sheik and Toon Link, and maybe even a Bowser since I'm a huge fan of both the Mario and Zelda series. Arriving at the Target, I noticed that a total 0f maybe 10-12 of us had gotten there at opening time to purchase said product. Out of the 10-12 of us, maybe 6 of us got all of the amiibo we wanted, not including me. I did get the Rosalina & Luma that I was searching for, but it was only by SOME MIRACLE that Auburn had one for my friend, as well as the other two that I was hoping to purchase. And I will add that at least three other people walked by while I was in mid-purchase, looking for the same amiibo and had to return completely discouraged as well as empty handed.

Day one. Hour one. I witnessed 7 people, In a potential market of 156,000 in the areas spanning between Nevada County, Auburn, and Roseville able to purchase the full line of amiibo that had been released.

I know I'm not the only one in the world just incensed to see that there is money by the buckets being funneled into 3rd party eBay accounts for these little toys that Nintendo has conjured. And I have only seen it get harder and harder for people interested to get their hands on these things. I can't help but wonder, why?!

Nintendo HAS to have seen by now that there is market for these things in the American economy. While Europe and Japan boast FULL SHELVES of these trinkets, America bears an uncanny resemblance to bread lines of The Great Depression, where you would stand in line for hours for something that you may or may not be able to even see by the time you get halfway through the line. And it's just plain absurd. As someone who knows how to make at least A LITTLE money, If you have a product that someone else can buy, and notice that they are reselling your product successfully for 2x, sometimes 4x as much....why not allow your company to pad you pockets. Not some scapler.


Although it may look like this article was merely a page full of mindless venting, I did also write this article in order to offer a couple of wayward solutions to this amiibo fiasco. And while I am merely a consumer, with no business experience whatsoever, I do think my ideas have some vaidity to them.

A) Simply, Plainly, bring more Amiibo to America

A small gesture such as this would do wonders, Nintendo. You have more than enough sales numbers and physical evidence to state that there is a ROCK SOLID market for these statuets here in the states. And by NOT supplying retailers with what demand requests, you are allowing someone else to make excellent profit on your product. So just put more in circulation here. Trust me. We'll pay it back, tenfold.

B) Make a Direct Option available

I may not be in the electronics industry for a living, but I do sell products to people. And I do know one thing to be a fact,: If the only way to get something is literally from the people who made it to begin with, consumers will still pay; sometimes more, and sometimes a lot more to get what they need. It may not be economically sound for Nintendo as a company to continue to make ALL of the amiibo during the course of the series production, but something as simple as a direct line to Nintendo for purchase during a current wave would go a LONG way for consumers interested in a product. I know of many people that would be excited to pay above standard retail price, directly to Nintendo, if Nintendo was able to ship them a product that retailers in their area were simply out of. Consumers might have to pay a bit extra as well as some shipping in getting them directly from Nintendo, but at least they would be available- something that cannot be said for today's stock of the different amiibo loosely scattered across retailers shelves in a manner befit a small hurricane.

I started buying amiibo with the intent to purchase two and only two: Link and Yoshi. I now own eight. Out of those eight, only one have I had to pay above retail market price, shipping the long lost Wii Fit Trainer from a Japanese outlet. Trust me, I was HAPPY to do so. I'm not excited for the future of amiibo after first hand seeing just how quickly these things disappear. And it's only going to get worse if something is not done about it. So...


Dear Nintendo,


I love you, your products, and vast library of games and characters. I am literally a walking pile of your unspent money. Please allow me to give it to you.
signed, Amxwolf

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11:22 PM on 12.30.2014

Why is NO ONE talking about Shantae and the Pirates Curse?!

I have always had a love/hate relationship with the gaming industry whenever the holiday season rolls around. The world becomes a cluster of angry people shifting about, looking for the best deals on the hottest games of the season. Some of the larger retail chains and third party distributors start rolling out the deals like their inventory was going to turn to mushy bannanas an hour after Christmas day. It's hard to tell if a game that comes out on or near Christmas is going to be good, or if the developer is just squirting it out in order to get profits fueled solely by jingle-bell-fueled-consumer-anticipation.

The WiiU gets played pretty frequently in my household when the holidays come a-knocking. It's a chance for my family to get together and enjoy a pasttime that most of us love. Casually browsing the Nintendo eShop, I noticed that there was one title in particular I had my eye on that had been released Christmas morning; a little known installment to the relatively popular series by WayForward Technologies by the name of Shantae and the Pirates Curse.

I had bought and played a previous installment available on the Nintendo 3DS and had been keeping track of the series since then, and not just because the main character was a curvy, half-genie, half-naked belly dancer. I'm sure most of you recall the composer of the music for a game you may have heard of by the name of Shovel Knight? Well Jake Kaufman, responsible for the glorious music in that epic title was the composer for the wonderful music in Shantae. The original was an impossibly fun platformer with a wide range of interesting and lovable cast, all accompanied by enjoyable chiptune music. So, seeing that a new installment had been released with pretty good reviews, I figured $20 was a pretty good price for something that looked genuinely good, not to mention finished; a somewhat rare quality in games these days.

After only a handful of minutes into the story I was hooked. Seriously. Hooked. It was impossible to put the WiiU tablet down. So now I'm burdened with a serious question: WHY IS NO ONE TALKING ABOUT THIS GAME?!

Shantae and the Pirates Curse is one of the best platformers I've played since I got my hands on Shovel Knight earlier this year, and I can personally atest to the gameplay being JUST as rewarding. Playing as Shantae, a half-genie who has recently lost her powers, the player teams up on an exciting adventure with the witty and scantily-clad pirate, Risky Boots to investigate a surge of evil in Sequin Land. Tying in classic platforming gameplay to gorgeously crafted sprites, you easily lose yourself in the sassy world of Shantae, whipping some serious monster butt with the power of a wickedly painful ponytail! Not to mention the abundance of clever and useful power ups you obtain along the way. The movement of the main character cannot be described as anything other the fluid and precise. There's a certain joy to be had by feeling that the character the player controls feels like an extension of his or her own instincts and thoughts; none of the movements or actions feeling misplaced or awkward.

Don't even worry about it. It's just a fire spider. I'm sure it's more scared of you than you are of it.

The stylized touches to this game are absolutely wonderful. As previously mentioned, the sprites and other animations in this world look incredible and provide a creative and immersive environment for the player to dive into. And I would be doing you all a disservice in not mentioning the absolutely INCREDIBLE music that this game boasts. Jake Kaufman does it again by taking a heap of favorite tunes from previous installments and recreating them into even more magnificent works of wonder to compliment the story. It's impossible not to enjoy playing this game when every time you debark onto a new island, you are greeted with a tune that's even better than the last you heard.

Another great feature to this game is the way the dialogue between characters is set up. I'm a huge fan of the dying art that is text only dialogue. While giving your characters a voice can help to connect a player to the characters more, I believe there's a certain amount of free creativity in allowing the player to give each character whatever voice they so desire. Each dialogue box is illustrated by an image, brimming with emotion and personality from the character speaking, adding a sort of comical feel to the mix. While Shantae will speak every now and then, the dialogue is mostly written for the player to read, allowing conversations to feel as fluid as the player wants to read them, at whatever speed the player wants to process them.

Just in case anyone was wondering if there's fan service to be had...

This game caters to SO many player styles. There's the obivious attraction to the players out there that enjoy platforming. But it also should be said that there are rewards to be had in this game for players (like me) who are completionists; personally vowing to obtain everything there is to obtain in a single title, along with those who aspire to complete an adventure in as little time as possible (you know, Speed Runners)

With such versatility, and so much fun for a straight up FRACTION of what a lot of games cost these days, I just do not understand why not very many people are talking about this game. Do yourself a favor. Save up $20. Pick up Shantae and the Pirates Curse. You won't be disappointed.

"Ret-2-go!"

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2:08 AM on 04.02.2014

To Write or not to write? The eternal question.

Hello again C-blogs. It's been a while my lonely lady. We have to talk...


...about my ridiculously long absence from the blogging scene. I really had no intention of discontinuing my MWHA blog, because more so than other readers liking it, I liked it. A lot. And I still do. I plan to pick up right where I left of here soon once I gather the last few of my lost life flock and herd them sheep back into the pen where they belong.


Get back in there you! Ok so let's see, friends...family...love interest...gaming F***! Where did my job sheep go?!


A relaunch however, always bears the question: Should changes be made? I know that I've asked myself questions of this nature towards my writing multiple times. I feel as though there may be a possibility to flourish in the video blogging industry, and not just because I do in fact own a pair of cleavage. ;) (P.S. I ACTUALLY REALLY HATE THAT SOMETIMES THAT'S THE ONLY PREMISE BEHIND SOME FEMALE BLOGS EVEN THOUGH IT'S HARD TO TELL IF WE'RE DOING IT TO OURSELVES OR AT THE REQUESTS OF OTHERS....)

*ehem* *clears throat*

In any case, the type of blog that I have been posting requires a lot of Audio input, and there's a distinct possibility that it may do better as a video with links to the various songs and such with some fun editing. 

So! For those of you who care, I put it to you this: Do you think this blog stands alone fine in the written form? Would you be more inclined to click if there was a cleverly edited video with maybe a transcript of the words attached? Some other idea I haven't come up with? Let me know if you'd like, but you can be sure to see some more MWHA blogs in the future. Passion, just can't die. ^_^   read


3:57 AM on 01.04.2014

Griefcraft - Everyones love/hate relationship with Public Minecraft Servers



I try not to remember my elementary school years when I can. Vivid memories of being that awkward little girl on the playground just kinda trying to hold my own against the other children around me, each with their own desires to be popular and underdeveloped ways of achieving that goal. It very much felt like a little slice of the wild Serengeti; there was always a wounded zebra for the lions to take down and devour. And interestingly enough, there's a game out there that unintentionally recreates that same atmosphere: Minecraft. Single player Minecraft can be a very rewarding experience when you get into it. You can create massive structures, works of block art, or a giant penis made completely out of TNT. Unfortunately, only YOU would be able to enjoy your incredible mansion and your tower of testes. This is where the servers come in. Imagine what you and complete strangers could build together! Imagine the looks on their pixel faces when you show them the biggest, blockiest "pair" they've ever laid eyes on...

...and then imagine it being gone two seconds later. Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Griefcraft. This may be coming a bit late, but for those of you looking to get into the Multiplayer Minecraft world, let me introduce you to the hole you're digging yourself into.



#1-Spawn Killing

While a lot of good servers are set up with safe zones and other rules to inhibit this kind of behavior, there are some players out there that get a twisted thrill out of staking out the world's spawn point. Usually in groups, usually decked out in complete diamond armor and weaponry, packs of players that can be more accurately described as wolves will descend upon players the minute they step out of the "Safe Zone" forcing the newcomer to either remain in spawn, continue to die, or just rage quit. More and more lately I've been seeing people really fighting against this kind of behavior, but it still does exist.

#2-"Pay" to Play

Keeping in mind that every server is probably being payed for out of one or two persons pockets, it is to be expected that with public, join-able servers, there will be a coin pot available for people to donate to in order to keep their world up and running. Usually, these donation perks are extra commands normally not available to players (teleporting, enchantment shops, flying) or sometimes you can use real money to buy precious materials like diamonds. But there are a lot of server's out there that require you to sign up on their site and sometimes even make a monthly donation to play on their server as an actual player with a name and not a Guest.

#3-Beggers

I have found myself in a situation before where I could not find a passive mob  on the map that would provide sustenance if I was the last player on earth. I'm not sure I've ever felt the need to express that in chat. Granted, if people want to be charitable or ask for a bit of help every now and then, I see no problem in that. Hell, if we're all going to be living on the same World, it makes no sense to completely ignore our countryman's needs. But every world seems to have it's native hobo player - the one that can't build a house on his own, can't find food, can't mine material, and wanders the world in search of handouts. One time, sure, have a cooked fish. Twice....okay, but there's like a herd of cattle just over that hill there. Three times, you know what? here's a fishing rod - do you need me to teach you how to use it?



#4-Abusive Chat

For whatever reason, on any given server there's going to be that one player that just cannot find the common decency within his or herself to just let the other players be. Said player will usually spend most of their time on the server getting into profane arguments with other players involving land and resources or sometimes just picking fights for the sake of fights. A lot of the time they will butt into conversations that don't even involve them just to see their name pop up on that chat window. Pretty much every server I've encountered has  at least one of these players, the key is finding the server with the least obnoxious ones, or at least one with an Admin that will do something about it.

#5- Squatters

One of my most irritating experiences that I think I've had on a public server to date involved a very weird arrangement that I begrudgingly gave into with another player. I'd built a house fairly close to the spawn point, hoping to easily locate it again if I died. A new player came on, commented on how nice my home looked, and wanted to know if he could live there too. Knowing that I'd never hear the end of it if I declined, I rolled out the welcome mat. Upon returning the next day, a comrade of that other player spent probably the better half of ten to fifteen minutes trying to kill me and yell at me claiming that I was trespassing on the other player's home. There are going to be players that come along that don't want to put forth the initial effort of homesteading. If you build a structure close enough to spawn to be seen by the majority, just know that there will be at least a few eager-beavers looking to claim that castle, by diplomacy or force.....which leads me to my next and probably the most common issue with public servers....



#6-General Griefing

Even with the introduction of the Faction play, general griefing is still a pretty common occurrence in any public server. There's an underlining fear that in the time spanning between you logging off and logging back in later, everything you have built and recovered from the world could be destroyed. Griefing takes many forms. Sometimes players will set fires to neighboring structures or foliage to allow your structures or even your crops to ignite. I've seen elaborate TNT trails topple enormous structures in a devastating domino effect. Griefers derive pleasure from destroying and pranking to create an illusion of omnipotence and just for the fun of it. "It took you two weeks to build that mansion and I just destroyed it in two seconds....you mad bro?". But their jests can also include force-suffocating characters by dropping sand/gravel blocks on unexpecting players, encasing them in near-to and unbreakable blocks such as obsidian or bedrock, or even something as obnoxious as filling a character's inventory with useless stock such as rotten meat or dirt by dropping it on them. Griefing is just....causing grief. Some servers say they will ban griefers, and some of the more active administrators actually do. But a lot of public servers just accept it as a thing that will happen and warn players that no punitive action will be taken just to close the flood gates of complaints. You will encounter it. Period. End of story.

If and when you do find the Cinderella Server to your glass shoe, it's wonderful. When you get a group of people that are in it for the love of the game and can effectively enjoy everything public play has to offer, it's awesome. You can make new friends, get ideas for builds, and just have fun. But....there will always be the possibility of any one of these players showing up at any time. After all....it is Griefcraft.   read


12:32 AM on 10.04.2013

The Most Important Thing Ever From Animal Crossing: New Leaf

Holy god. I just made the most important thing in Animal Crossing: New Leaf ever guys: a Mr. Dtoid shirt.

Heehee. Sorry, not a particularly in depth Community Blog for those late night readrers, but if you don't buy this game for any other reason, I highly recommend it for those who think, "You know, I wish I could draw this on a grid and then wear it."

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10:54 PM on 09.15.2013

MWHA- Track #11- Title Screen - Little Nemo: The Dream Master

Alright. So This is my first request MWHA! And I most definitely have to thank Addison for the great request. This game had flown under my radar, but the music is really REALLY good, and I am very happy to share it with all of you!

Back in the good ol' days of NES development, Capcom released a game for the Nintendo Entertainment System by the title of Little Nemo: The Dream Master. This game was based off of a Japanese adaptation of a 1905 comic strip called Little Nemo. The game Little Nemo: The Dream Master, follows the story of Nemo, a little boy who is summoned to Slumberland to become young Princess Camile's playmate. Despite his reservations with playing with "a girl," Nemo is eventually convinced to fly off on a magical dirigible at the prospect of getting candy. From there, a vast and actually quite difficult adventure begins with little Nemo traversing the many levels in search for keys to progress. Each level is filled with various enemies and animals with different attributes and skills that Nemo can utilize by feeding them candy.


Nemo is a master of leap frog.


Composer Junko Tamiya (credited as: Gonzou) is the mastermind behind these melodies. This game came quite a bit later in Tamiya's career than Bionic Commando, which appears to be the game she's best known for. But there's definitely a reason why Capcom is quoted saying she "was very talented." And even though it's short, sweet, and to the point, I would have to characterize the Title Theme, as part of this talent.



The great thing about game music from this time period was that while the cartridges and such could not handle massive orchestrations for each game, the music was very intricate and special in it's own way. To this day, chip-tune style music is widely sought out because of the distinct sound. And Little Nemo delivers these sounds perfectly. I know that I've said this before, and it still remains true that Title screen and file select screen songs act as portals into the music world the player is about to be swept away in. This is perfectly illustrated by Tamiya's work in Little Nemo. The melody is playful and wonderfully embellished with some cleverly laid out harmonies and chord progressions. Just loop it! Over and Over again! Don't tell me that didn't put a smile on your face and make you want to climb inside a big lizard and crawl up trees!

Now I did find a couple remixes of the title music here on the web but I wasn't particularly impressed with either one myself. I will go ahead and list the one of them that I still thought was cool in a sense that it was pretty well laid out for guitar; just having some minor rhythm issues:

Little Nemo Title Screen (Guitar Cover) by: NickJonesSon

Thank you again Addison for bringing this game and it's amazing soundtrack to my attention. I think it's safe to say that I will probably be doing many more blogs about this game and Tamiya's other works. She did an excellent job capturing a childlike adventure and wonderment in this 8-bit dream.   read


12:23 AM on 09.05.2013

Video Game Music Panel Strikes a Chord With PAX


As an aspiring composer, I can tell you with true passion that the "Three Decades of Music" panel at PAX Prime 13 was an inspirational hit and quite possibly one of the highest energy panels PAX had to offer at Seattle this past week. Featuring C418 (best known for Minecraft), Danny Baranowsky (best known for Super Meat Boy), Jimmy Hinson (best known for Mass Effect 2), and the "living legend" Grant Kirkhope (best known for Banjo Kazooie/Tooie), fans from all over were treated to the experience of hearing opinions and stories from a harmonious collection of indie as well as AAA title composers.

The mood was almost instantaneously set as the panel began; Hinson began humming a note, and before long Kirkhope, Baranowsky, and C418 joined in, creating a beautiful chord that began to change shape over the course of about ten seconds before slowly dying out. But in those few seconds, the audience and panelists became tied together by the silky yet forever mailable and indestructible thread that is music. Beyond nuggets of information handed out about breaking into the industry and the evolution that has taken place in game music, the overall atmosphere of the panel was very playful. From time to time, panelists would lovingly jab one another over different aspects of their careers or musical aesthetics. But the core of the discussion was much more than a friendly roast of C418's relatively young age and Hinson's success with the sometimes trod-on series, Call of Duty.

The information passed on to the FULL HOUSE was very heartfelt and meaningful. Kirkhope and crew touched on important subjects such as the in-determined importance of documented musical training as well as what life can be like composing music for a your bread money.


This was taken a few minutes after they capped the line; maybe about 30-40 minutes before the panel started


As a member of the composer (well aspiring composer) community, it was immensely inspiring to see the flocking of game music enthusiasts to this one panel among the masses. It's a reminder that music is becoming more and more and actively recognized part of what makes games great. And It's a reminder that there are others out there like me (and probably you) that have either a deep desire to get into writing music for the many game titles just waiting to be created, as well as those who just love the accompanying sounds and songs that are crafted to embellish the mood of a journey or classic gaming moment. It's not just some weird hobby that someone may have developed over the many years of playing games. IT'S A THING.

All of the panelists touched on their musical influences and favorite soundtracks; another grand insight into the minds behind the melodies. The panel felt tragically short, and the audience could have easily been captivated for many more hours by the collective charm that these four had to offer. If I had to share one gleaming moment of this panel with those who couldn't be there, I would share a funny, yet very real moment brought on by Mr. Kirkhope. In response to the in-determined necessity for documented musical training he replied resolute, "If you can hear it, you can write it"; a very simple yet eloquent idea that artists sometimes forget. This was later jokingly quoted by Baranowsky as having been the "most inspirational thing he'd ever heard you [Kirkhope] say". But it still rang clear and true a thought, reverberating within the hearts of the audience.



My opinion is probably a bit biased, being a person who has a deep and strong rooted love for not only Grant Kirkhope's many compositions, but also C418's "mine-bliss" he created for Minecraft as well as the work he did with FZ: Side F. But this panel in particular was one of the most rewarding experiences of PAX13. And if they do another next year with any composers from the industry, I would say simply this: DON'T MISS OUT! PUT THIS ON TOP OF YOUR PAX PLAYLIST! I've said before,and I'll say it again. Music is a language we all speak fluently, and what better a way to come together at PAX than through something as alive and binding as music?   read


12:50 PM on 07.27.2013

MWHA- Track #10- Starlight Highway -Snowboard Kids 2


Begin Transmission: Remember not too long ago when I tapped you on the shoulder and shoved earphones in your ears, mumbling something that sounded like sweet nothings about game called Snowboard Kids?

*Shoves earphones in your ears*

So! Taking you back into the world of creative and more artistic racing, our good friends Atlus and Racdym decided that one take on the Snowboard Kids series was not enough to satisfy the cravings of their fan base. In early 1999, another cartridge bearing the likeness of our favorite kid snowboarders hit the shelves and did nothing but exceed all of our expectations. It was said that "The game-play of this game is similar to its predecessor's, yet very different." But by no means was that meant to be taken as an insult. All of the characters were redesigned with new outfits to match the course, the game-play was radically redesigned with a full load of new items and different ways to play. Yet it all still had the charm of the original Snowboard Kids that we grew to love.This of course, included the music.; ALL of the songs off the Snowboard Kids 2 soundtrack are just incredible. The one I'm going to refer to you today was a piece that really reached for the stars and took hold: Starlight Highway



This gorgeous piece of ear candy sets the tone for an out-of-this-world racetrack by the name of (can you guess it?) Starlight Highway. The story of this particular competition begins with young newcomer Wendy Lane summoning a flying saucer to come and essentially abduct both her and her friends for an all out battle on the surface of an orbiting space body. Once there, the crew debarks and straps on their gear, ready to glide across space age booster tunnels and rivers made of materials unknown!

Sure! I'll go! Cuz you know, this seems to always go well with the people in the moving pictures.


The song utilizes the same sounds and synths that are characteristic to this series, but the way this particular piece was composed was very clever. It SOUNDS space-agey! And, it is incredibly gorgeous! The melody is just urgent enough to give the player just the right amount of pressure during this twist-and-turn race. It also features an excellent use of fifths throughout (for those who are musically inclined) and dances ever so fantastically up and down the chromatic scale to create a marvel that rivals the stars themselves.

RIVERS! IN! SPACE!


I was able to find some pretty good mixes of this song out there in the forever expanding void of the internet:

SBK2 Starlight Highway mixed by: DrWaldo

and Starlight Highway mixed by: ellebirdy23

I was hoping to find a bit more information on the specific composers of this piece for my readers, and my web-diving did net me a few names. Tomohiko Sato, Isao Kasai & Sayuri Yamamoto were listed as composers for some of the other pieces woven into this game so....maybe them? If someone does know exactly who is responsible for the millions of chills I get during this piece, please do not hesitate to correct me! They should be properly commended for their work in the various songs from this game, because Starlight Highway, among the others, is nothing short of a Masterpiece. End Transmission.   read


2:45 PM on 07.07.2013

MWHA-Track #9 - Heliopolis - Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy



Am I the only one who feels like anytime I mention a GameCube game that I'm talking about an ex-boyfriend/girlfriend that I dated for maybe a week? Well, your relationship with the short-lived GameCube set aside, there were actually some decent titles put out for this system, even though it only put out titles for about seven years. One that may have flown under your radar, was the relatively entertaining and kinda quirky Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy. This game has it's flaws as all games do, including a save-point debacle that causes a door to be permanently sealed and subsequently causing the player to have to restart the entire adventure over. But one thing that I did very much enjoy whilst exploring the various lands of this game was the music and I would be remissed if I failed to mention the delicate yet powerful piece for the land of Heliopolis.



   
Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy was released in North America late 2003, developed by Eurocom, a company recently fated to bankruptcy, and published by THQ. The storyline follows a demi-god by the name Sphinx and the undead Tutankhamen, mummified by the disguised dark god, Set. The game mischievously bounces between the two lead roles, with Sphinx doing most of the exploring of the various realms, and "The Cursed Mummy" sneaking around the castle of Uruk, solving puzzles to retrieve items to assist Sphinx. One of the areas Sphinx sails to, is Heliopolis.


You better get used to this face because he makes that same terrified look through the entire game.


"Heliopolis was once a great kingdom. Now it's no more than a forsaken desert wasteland." This composition is the background music to the realm where Anubis' temple is built. It provides the perfect ambiance as you explore the shores looking for the various species of monsters and solving the problems befallen the locals. The song is a perfect example of how well done the soundtrack for this game was put together as it utilizes some very eastern-desert sounding instruments to create the ancient-Egyptian sort of mood to dive into. I personally love the marimba/xylophone in the background of the piece giving a very soothing attribute to the main melody.


    
The composer listed for the soundtrack was Eurocom's "in house" composer Steve Duckworth. Considering how marvelous Heliopolis was for my ears, I was quite surprised to find very little information on Duckworth out in the expanse of the world wide web. But some of the other games you may recognize Steve from include 007 Legends and Cruis'n World.
   
Now, due to the pretty much COMPLETE lack of reception of this game, I was not even close to surprised to find a grand total of zero remixes of this song. In fact, when I mentioned the game to my friend, he quickly responded with, "Oh yeah, that game. I don't remember anything about it, but I remember that sphinx looking guy." But who knows? Maybe this blog will scroll across someone's browser one day and inspire them to make a remix for this game; a game that would appear to have been lost within the sands of time.   read


9:44 AM on 06.12.2013

Super Smash Brothers-Kazooie?



Ok Nintendo, are you listening?

I've been hearing a lot of things lately about a new Super Smash Brothers installment to this immensely popular series. It goes without saying that the OG, Melee, and Brawl were probably some of Nintendo's best selling titles. And why not? It brought all of us gamers together, under one roof, to take part in the indescribable bliss that was watching our favorite Nintendo characters beat the tar out of each other with baseball bats, beam sabers, and bom-ombs.

In the last few days, the gaming community has been given a sample of the newest Smash Soup that Nintendo and Sakurai have apparently been simmering since (conceivably) the orgasmic reaction to the release of Super Smash Bros. Brawl back in 2008. The question is, as it always has been with the release of a new Smash Brothers, the eternal, "Who will the new characters be?" I'd be lying if I said I wasn't excited about Mega Man, as well as genuinely curious, in the absolute purest sense about the Wii Fit Trainer. But I can't help but feel as though Nintendo has seriously overlooked a possible gold mine for a character; a duo whom time hasn't forgotten, but simply relocated. I am referring to one of my favorite video game tag-teams of all time, the ever ridiculous, super splendiforis: Banjo and Kazooie!

So. Why you ask? Other than it being 110 octane awesome, I have prepared my reasons for why Nintendo should seriously consider putting our favorite short-wearing and Breegull-toting bear into their newest installment, even if it means paying out the nose:

1)(Possibly the best reason of all)The fan-base is staggering.
    It's safe to say that if you grew up in the 90's, or owned an N64 in 1998, you were aware of the release of the timelessly entertaining adventure that is, Banjo-Kazooie. It was, and still is, a series that stands on it's own, regardless of which console you own it for. There are thousands of people that out there nipping at the heels of Microsoft to produce another new adventure for this bear and bird. That being said, there's about an, oh, I don't know, 150% chance that the mere announcement of their placement in this series will result in a massive pants explosion amongst the fan base and most likely hundreds of pre-ordered copies just for giving us the opportunity to not only peck the witch's butt, but our friend's butts as well.

2) There's at least 22 different stages to choose from for Character Based Stages
    Now I apologize to the Nuts and Bolts fanatics out there for excluding those possibilities, but since I know very little about that game (due to personal BK-beliefs and aesthetics), I won't insult you by trying to talk about it. My ignorance aside, there's at least a whopping twenty-two absolutely iconic stages that can be adapted for some awesome Kick-assery. From the golden sands of Gobi's Valley to the icy hot region of Hellfire Peaks, there is a veritable well of well thought out levels to be adapted for the Super Smash Brothers series. The best part is, the fans know these levels so well, that they would SO VERY EASILY mix with the Zelda and Mario worlds that are equally as recognizable and satisfying. I for one, would love to see a Mad Monster Mansion stage, putting the church on display. Or maybe even better yet would be a Witchy World tribute, complete with Big Top and Saucer of Peril. The ideas and the potential for success, for lack of a better term, are staggering.



3) If Nintendo chooses to keep using assist and collectible trophies - There are PLENTY of characters to model

    One has to admire thorough game design. And when you give literally every character and enemy in the series with a personality-bestowing name to go by, you're thorough to say the least. I'm sure I'm not alone when I say that I would actually watch the entire credits sequence for Banjo-Kazooie simply because I enjoyed reliving all the various puzzles and baddie-blasting. This is something that I can't really say for most of the games I've spent time playing over the decades. Between the various characters, the enemies, and the items, finding models for assist trophies and other usable items (not to mention collectable trophies) would be almost TOO EASY. I mean, the mighty Jinjonator? Gruntilda? Mumbo?! The Zubbas? CONGO?! CLANKER?! HUMBA-WUMBA?!?! BOTTLES?!?! JAM JARS?!?! *walks off into the distance naming various characters and items*


4) There is music to be used, and arrangements we've been begging for.

    I know I'm not the only one that got school-girl status giddy when I heard about the Banjo-Kazooie orchestration that came out recently. From the lips of a DIE HARD Kirkhope fan, I would positively melt at the prospect of playing fisty-cuffs whilst listening to either the original or a new arrangement of ANY of the Banjo compositions. There's  a bunch to choose from and clearly, a desire to have them. Grant Kirkhope's songs in these games have reached a level just short of immortality. So why not utilize this stash of wet dream, ear-gasm fuel to help push for even greater sales?

    OK ok. In the interest of not boring you, I won't blather on and on about how this SHOULD already be happening. But I must ask, with so many reasons why it should happen, and knowing that the reception of this news would make waves across the gaming community, can Nintendo afford NOT to include this duo in their new game? Who Knows? Allowing Banjo and Kazooie to step back into the spot light may reignite the series, which at this point would appear to be a fuel-saturated match. And in doing so, Nintendo might bring in a brand new generation of Banjo lovers for the gaming world to nurture and Microsoft to inevitably profit off of. I know that the RareWare/Nintendo/Microsoft exchange was sloppy and heart wrenching enough to rank with some of the worst breakups in the history of mankind, and more likely than not, putting Banjo and loyal Kazooie in the ring with some of Nintendo's greatest will come at a great price. But I promise you Nintendo....I promise you: The game will sell. The game WILL SELL. We've all been waiting for both a new Super Smash as well as a new Banjo.

Simply put: Reserving a slot for Banjo and Kazooie? Well, that's just the last piece to the jigsaw puzzle now isn't it?


  read


9:01 PM on 06.06.2013

MWHA- Track #8 - Big Snowman - Snowboard Kids


In the gaming world, there's a type of game that requires a certain amount of nurtured skill and a dash of pure unadulterated luck: Racing games. And while the goal of each title is usually the same (you know...make it to the finish line first), players can easily recognize the different styles of racing games developers have been producing for years now. We have the simulation racers, making things as life like as possible. But there's also a market for the more eccentric and imaginative racing games. For me, one of the classic series of fun and creative racing games was a little series by the name of Snowboard Kids. Released in Japan around mid December of 1997, Atlus and Racdym (Now going by the name of Racjin) opened the door to a wonderful world of snowboard impossibility. Courses in the first Snowboard Kids included a dry desert and a dark lit highway; places where snowboarding wouldn't physically be possible. And while I'm most familiar with the second installment of the game, I can't help but adore some of the songs that accompanied the first in the series; songs like the epic and entrancing Big Snowman.




Set in a winter wonderland, the player has plenty of time to get acquainted with the music on this relatively long, 2-lap race down the mountain. And if you manage to dodge the opponents bombs, rank-sapping parachutes, and falling pans, 1st place will net you a grand 3,600G. Not too shabby.


No one is really giving anyone in this game points for their clothing style during this race.


Those of us who are familiar with the Snowboard Kids series can almost immediately identify the music behind these creations; The Racdym Sound Team has managed to create a specific style for their games from their incredibly well thought out and implemented melodies, to the synths that pack a pleasant punch. Big Snowman is a CLASSIC example of how amazing these songs can be and turns a run-of-the-mill snowboarding course, into a magical adventure.

There were only a couple of notable mixes to this piece that I was able to dig up in my research:

Snowboard Kids-Big Snowman, Mixed by: ZOMGBIE

The second one I came across was actually (to my knowledge) unfinished. Even so, what has been recorded so far, is pretty good (in my opinion) and I would not be doing my job if I didn't share what has been created so far with you guys:
Snowboard Kids Idea, mixed by: Manamaniac

The childlike nature of this game is one of the key factors to why this game is so purely fun. There's an air of innocence to the plot that reminds us all of the playful competitions we all participated in as kids around the age of 10 or 11. I however, wasn't nearly as good at snowboarding as the Snowboard Kids cast, and in no way did I have as much access to the kinds of artillery they pack in those boards of theirs (which is a shame). Otherwise, I probably would've won a few more basketball games with the ability to you know, freeze the other team solid.   read


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