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My name's Ben. I'm pretty quiet but really easy to get along with. I've been playing video games since I was a little kid, watching my brother play the NES and sometimes playing with him. The first game I ever beat was Super Mario RPG, and that's when I developed a love for video games.

I was the Friday recapper for the Cblog Recaps team for 3 years!

I was on an episode of the Secret Moon Base Podcast! You can listen to me talk about video game bosses with the gang!

Games that I thoroughly enjoy:
Katamari Damacy
Shadow of the Colossus
EarthBound and Mother 3
Cave Story
Demon's Souls and Dark Souls
Persona 3 and 4
Team Fortress 2
Super Mario RPG
Tokyo Jungle
El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron
Mega Man Legends
Super Meat Boy
Bit.Trip series
Beyond Good & Evil
Dragon Quest VIII
Final Fantasy IV, VI, VII and IX
Mega Man 2
Majora's Mask
Super Mario Sunshine
WarioWare series
Animal Crossing: New Leaf
Endless Ocean: Blue World
Mister Mosquito

My Backlog

Other things that I thoroughly enjoy:
Sweet potatoes
Studio Ghibli films
Eels (the band... and the animal too)
Cowboy Bebop
Kill la Kill
Jurassic Park
Spaghetti westerns
Crossword puzzles
Green tea
Giant squids
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PSN ID:bbbain
Steam ID:bbainn
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I played a ton of Pokemon Alpha Sapphire this week, and it's quickly become my favorite Pokemon game ever! I've been loving the changes they've been making to the Pokemon games with X/Y and OR/AS. They've been adding way more customization options, making the game worlds feel more lively and interesting, enhancing the graphics significantly, introducing easier ways to trade and battle with other people around the globe, creating more ways to interact with your Pokemon (Pokemon-Amie is like my favorite thing ever!), and more. These last two entries to the Pokemon series have really rekindled my interest in the games, which I actually stopped playing after Ruby for some reason, and I really hope they keep it up!

Everyone probably has their own ideas of what they would like to see from future Pokemon games. Depending on how you play, you might want to see Game Freak continue to hone the battles or the story. I'm more of an explorer when I play Pokemon games. I mostly enjoy finding and catching every Pokemon I come across, building up teams of my favorite Pokemon (maybe not the most powerful, but I like them anyway), and exploring the diverse towns and routes.

With that in mind, I've been thinking about what I'd personally like to see from future releases. Most of these things have been cropping up in the games little by little, and I'd just like to see Game Freak expand on those ideas. Some of them might be too difficult to implement, but they're still fun to think about. So here are five things that I think would bring us closer to the perfect Pokemon game!

Specialized Surf sprites for every Pokemon!

This can apply to Fly and Dive as well. We've only seen a few specialized sprites for surfing Pokemon so far: Lapras, Wailmer, Sharpedo, and Kyogre (are there any I'm forgetting?). Sharpedo is even more special, because he can actually swim faster than other Pokemon! I think it would be great if they created sprites for all the Pokemon that can surf. They don't need to make them behave differently, like Sharpedo, but that could be cool too.

Wouldn't it be awesome to see your player character swimming around on the back of a massive Wailord? Or racing along on a graceful Dragonair? Or floating on a large, flat Avalugg? Or being dragged through the water while clinging to a tiny Goldeen? Or watching Rhydon do the breaststroke and wondering why the water isn't hurting it?

I think that would be really neat, and it would be fun to experiment with different Pokemon to see what they look like.

Give every Pokemon the Pikachu treatment!

Pikachu has gotten a lot of special treatment in the Pokemon games. I mean, he is sort of the mascot character, but he's still just another Pokemon. In Pokemon Yellow, he could follow behind you when you walked around. In some of the recent games, he says, "Pika pika!" rather than making a weird sound when he enters a battle. And in Alpha Sapphire/Omega Ruby, you could dress him up in different outfits!

I think it'd be cool to see more Pokemon get this special treatment. Maybe you could set it so that the first Pokemon in your lineup followed you around on the map, and you could send it back to its Pokeball if you were tired of seeing it. This might be difficult to animate for certain Pokemon (like Wailord... or most water Pokemon really. I guess they could flop?), but I think it's doable.

[Edit: I just found out they actually did this for HeartGold/SoulSilver! You should bring this feature back, Game Freak!]

Giving each of the Pokemon voices could be annoying, or it could be really cool. I guess I'd have to see it done first. Dressing your Pokemon up could also be fun, but probably not for everybody. I know I enjoyed dressing up my animals in Tokyo Jungle though, so it could work. And if I could give my Cubone a cute little scarf to wear around its neck, I would be so happy!

Oh my gosh!

(Image via emilysculpts.deviantart.com)

Change the way HMs work!

This is more of a technical thing which I've always found kind of annoying. They haven't really changed the way HMs work since the very first Pokemon game, and they've always been rather problematic (at least in my opinion). I still don't understand why you can't delete an HM move whenever you want, and instead you must go speak to the Move Deleter to do it for you. I guess maybe they were afraid players could get stuck somewhere if they deleted an HM move that they needed, but they had deposited the HM to their PC so they couldn't learn it again? In the newer games, though, you can't deposit your items anymore, so your HMs are always with you in case you need them. The Move Deleter seems entirely unnecessary to me.

I also think they could stand to change the way HM moves work in general. There have been up to eight HM moves so far, and given that your six Pokemon can only learn four moves at a time, that's eight out of the 24 moves your team can learn. That takes up a third of your moves! Many people actually resort to creating "HM slaves," which are Pokemon that only know HM moves, so they don't have to waste move slots for their other Pokemon, essentially rendering the HM slave useless for battle.

Maybe a better idea would be to have special skill slots, specifically for HM moves or moves like Sweet Scent or Dig. These slots would be separate from your attack slots, so you wouldn't be able to use them in battle. I don't think anyone would complain that they could no longer use HM moves in battle, as most of them are either mostly useless or other attacks exist that do essentially the same thing. Or maybe they could be learned as an attack as well, if the player really wanted to use one of the moves in battle (Surf is a pretty nice attack, after all). I just think it would be nice to be free from the restrictions that HM moves place on your party for once.

Create a dolphin Pokemon!

I mean, seriously Game Freak. What's the deal? We already have like five different seal Pokemon, but no dolphins? Everyone loves dolphins! Get with the program!

More Pokemon in the wild!

This was something new to Alpha Sapphire/Omega Ruby (I believe), and I thought it was a really cool idea! In some areas, you could see Pokemon moving around in the wild, such as Wingulls flying around the beach, Relicanth and Chinchou swimming through the deep sea crevasses, Beautifly fluttering through the air, and more. You couldn't reach them to battle them, they were more like scenery, although you could look them up with your Pokedex. But they made the world feel so much more lively and exciting!

I'd like to see them expand on this idea. They could have Krabby scuttling along the beach, burrowing into the sand when you come near. Or Zubats hanging from the walls of the caves. Or Kakunas and Cascoons hanging from trees. Or Haunters and Duskulls fading in and out of sight around a graveyard. Or Mantykes and Magikarp leaping out of the water periodically.

Stuff like this would really help to make the world of Pokemon pop and feel more realistic. If they really wanted to go all out, they could make it so they all the Pokemon you catch are seen moving around on the field, but that wouldn't really be necessary. Just seeing them in the background is good enough for me!

How about you? How would you improve the Pokemon games?

Photo Photo Photo

Hello everyone! I meant to make a post on my actual birthday (November 22nd), but then video games happened, and I couldn't stop playing them. I am speaking of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and Pokemon Alpha Sapphire, of course. I was also planning on buying a PS4 for my birthday, so I could play The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, among other games, but again, video games happened. I'll probably pick up a PS4 later this week instead. And then Persona Q comes out tomorrow... there's just so many games to play!

So yeah, I've pretty much been playing Smash Bros. and Pokemon non-stop since Friday. I figured I'd share some of my thoughts about both games, from what I've played of them so far.


Quick thoughts on Super Smash Bros. for Wii U

- I've tried out the majority of the characters by now, and I think King Dedede is still going to be my main. I already wrote a blog before about why I like him so much. He has changed slightly since Brawl, but not so significantly that he's no longer my favorite. I am really sad they changed his final smash, though. It might be more powerful now, I guess, but it's just not the same. Plus, I hate having to aim at a specific character now, rather than just activating the dance and sitting back to watch the chaos. Oh well... They also changed his side B attack so that he only throws out Gordos, rather than randomly throwing out either a Waddle Dee, Waddle Doo or a Gordo. I liked the randomness of his old side B, but the new one is good too. It's more useful, but it can also backfire if someone hits the Gordo back to you. Other than that, Dedede is pretty much the same. He's still my favorite character :)

- My favorite new character is either Pac-Man or Bowser Jr. I can't decide which one I like more. Pac-Man always just looks so happy, and I like how most of his attacks are retro-themed. Bowser Jr. has lots of cool attacks too, and is very fun to use, and I like how you can choose to play as any of the Koopalings. I usually go with Roy.

- I like Mega Man and Villager, but they seem kinda difficult to use. For some reason, Mega Man's buster gun feels weird to me, and I always screw up my side smash attacks. I like using the Leaf Shield, just because I love Wood Man, but it doesn't seem too useful or powerful. Some of his other attacks are really good though. As for Villager, my favorite thing to do with him is to plant and water a tree, and then run around hitting people with the axe (muahaha!). I really like both of these characters, so I'll have to practice with them a bit until I'm more comfortable with their moves.

- I really hate the Wii Fit Trainer, you guys. I thought it might be funny to play as them just to annoy people, but I end up getting really pissed off just using them, or even fighting against them. Their snarky fitness comments and yoga moves make me so angry, especially when they're beating me!

- Most of the other new characters I'm rather indifferent about. I've never cared about Fire Emblem, so I'm probably never going to use Robin or Lucina. Same with Shulk. Greninja is OK, but I prefer to use Charizard or Jigglypuff if I'm gonna pick a Pokemon. Duck Hunt is silly, and I'll probably experiment with them a bit. Palutena and Little Mac seem to have some cool attacks, and they seem kinda fun to use, but I'm not sure if I'll play as them much. Dark Pit seems entirely unnecessary, I'm not sure why he had to be a separate character. Also I don't really like Rosalina, she's kind of a boring character (I actually keep forgetting she's even in the game).

- For now, my usual rotation of characters includes King Dedede, Bowser, Bowser Jr./Roy, Ness, Diddy Kong, Olimar/Alph, Jigglypuff, Wario, Dr. Mario, Falco, and Pac-Man.

- My favorite new stage is the Boxing Ring. It's simple but fun, and seems like a perfect choice of stage for the game. I'm actually kind of surprised they didn't think of it sooner!

I actually thought it was a Kirby stage before I remembered Punch-Out is a thing.

- I also kinda like the Wrecking Crew level, but I'm not even sure why. Wrecking Crew was sort of a boring game, but for some reason I still kinda like it anyway. I feel the same way about games like Ice Climber, Balloon Fight, and Clu Clu Land. I hate playing them, but I like that they exist (actually, I do kind of enjoy playing Balloon Fight).

- I'm a little jealous of some of the 3DS-only stages. Especially Magicant, because I love anything Mother-related. Mother wasn't even a handheld game! Mother 3 was, but there wasn't a Magicant in Mother 3.

- The best new items are the beehive and cucco, for obvious reasons. Muahaha!

You all get BEES!

- Worst new item is the gust bellows. It was a stupid item in Skyward Sword, and it's a stupid item in Smash Bros.

- All the new assist trophies are so cool! I love seeing characters like Dillon, Ashley, Starman, Isabelle, Elec Man, Mother Brain, and Skull Kid on the battlefield! I'd actually love to play as any of those characters if they were made into fighters, especially Dillon, Ashley, and Skull Kid. I guess Mother Brain wouldn't really work as a fighter, though, haha.

I still think Sonic should have been replaced by Dillon.

- I honestly don't have a preference between For Fun and For Glory. They're both fun for their own reasons. Hopefully I can fight with some of you guys online someday, maybe during a Friday Night Fight?


Quick thoughts on Pokemon Alpha Sapphire

- I haven't acquired my ideal Gen 3 team yet, but my plan is to have a team consisting of Zangoose, Wailord, Relicanth, Ninjask (or Shedinja), and I'm not sure who else. Maybe Tropius, for flying. Who should I pick for the sixth slot?

- There are a few Pokemon I used to dislike based on appearance, but they look a lot better as moving polygons than they did a sprites, so now I kinda like them. Examples include Vigoroth and Poochyena, who both have really cool expressions now. I also like how Slakoth just splays out flat on his stomach, he looks really funny on a 3D plane.

This is me every morning.

- Polygonal Wattson is awesome! (He's one of my favorite gym leaders :D)

- I'm not too far into the game, just now got to Mauville City, so I haven't gotten to see many of the remade locations that I'm most excited to see, such as Fortree, Sootopolis, and the underwater section. I like what they've done with the locations so far, though. Mauville City in particular is really neat! I also like the remade gyms, they're all really cool looking.

- I mean, it's a remake so there's not too much new stuff to talk about, but I'm loving the game anyway.


That's all I've got for now. It's been a really exciting week for video games! Hopefully my birthday next year will be just as exciting!


Photo Photo Photo

Sometimes I find myself thinking a lot about the little things in video games, things that other people might overlook completely, yet somehow, they stand out to me as something particularly unique and intriguing. One such thing is the collection screen. Many games have collectibles, which you can find by exploring the world or accomplishing tasks, and some games will have a screen dedicated to viewing the things you've collected. Sometimes these screen might be a bit boring, but every once in a while, I'll come across a game where it's very clear that someone put a lot of time and consideration into making their collection screens fun and interesting.

My favorite example of this can actually be found in my all-time favorite game, Katamari Damacy. In Katamari, you spend your time rolling up random objects, people, and places into giant balls, and each unique item that you roll up is recorded in a collection. You can view every item that you've found, but the best part about Katamari's collections are the unique descriptions that somebody wrote for each and every item in the game. The descriptions are often hilarious, and were written from the point of view of The King of All Cosmos, who clearly has a very warped perception of the human race and the things that they use in their everyday lives.

I can imagine some gamers all but ignore these screens, maybe just checking them to make sure they've found everything, but I actually enjoy going through and reading every single description. I'd get excited whenever I found a new object in the game, wondering what the King had to say about it, and obsessively completing the entire collection just to read every last word. I think it's awesome that it was somebody's job to write all of these things; they clearly had just as much fun writing them as I did reading them!


A few of my favorite Katamari item descriptions:

Peach - A butt-shaped fruit that is more tasty than butts.

Canned mackerel - There appears to be fish inside. The fish may not be alive.

Gum (pack) - There is a trap which looks exactly like this. Be suspicious.

India ink - Black liquid for writing stuff. Squids puke this, but they are not writing.

Nail clipper - Used to clip human claws. We wonder if it hurts.

Flashlight - Very useful during blackouts, but difficult to find during blackouts...

Handcuffs - If you do something really bad these may be used on you! Or if you are good...


Many other games have created unique collection screens like this as well, offering all kinds of information to entertain and educate gamers as they collect things in-game.

Space Channel 5's collection screen gives you information about the civilians and aliens that you rescue throughout the game, with bits of trivia about their personalities and statistics, including random things like their blood type or their favorite ice cream flavor. This information is entirely unimportant to the story of the game, but still fun to read. Actually, the Space Channel 5 team made their collection screen even more interesting by including a sort of mini-game, where you had to talk to certain people in a particular order within the collection to unlock special outfit options for Ulala. I love getting rewarded for my completionist habits!

The trophies in the Smash Bros. games are another interesting example, as Nintendo used the trophy descriptions to relay a lot of different information about the history of the company, the games they made, backstory for the characters, and more. I learned a lot about Nintendo games just from reading the trophy descriptions, including some Nintendo games I've never even played, like Cubivore, Doshin the Giant, The Legendary Starfy, and more. Not to mention, looking through the trophies in Smash Bros. actually got me to play some Nintendo games I'd never tried before, including Earthbound, Animal Crossing, and Chibi-Robo, all of which I absolutely loved!

I still remember seeing the Totakeke, Tom Nook, and Mr. Resetti trophies in Melee and being excited for whatever game they were going to be in!

Other games use their collections to educate players with factual information. I spent a lot of time reading up on all of the biological information about the sea life in Endless Ocean: Blue World, via the in-game encyclopedia which unlocks as you discover new species while diving. I learned a lot about different kinds of fish and other creatures that I'd never heard of before, and also reaffirmed my knowledge about the animals I was familiar with.

Another game that went with the educational route was Valiant Hearts: The Great War, in which you can collect war memorabilia and read up on historical tidbits related to those items. I actually didn't know any of these historical facts before, probably because I never really paid attention in history class. History was always my least favorite subject in school, but somehow, Valiant Hearts made learning about history fun! It's like studying and playing video games at the same time... crazy!

There's even a small little (free!) indie game designed specifically around its collection screen. The game is called Tanaka's Friendly Adventure, and the joy of the game comes mainly from finding friends and learning about them in the collection. The actual gameplay is not very exciting; you literally just walk around and choose different paths until the game ends, and every new path you take unlocks a different friend. Yet somehow, I couldn't pull myself away from the game until I'd managed to find all the friends. It's really bizarre that such a simple, non-challenging game (a "walking simulator," if you will) could be so enjoyable to me, but it was. They took an often overlooked game feature and made an entire game around just that, and it made me smile.

Does anyone else enjoy browsing collection screens in games? Any other good examples? It's not something that a lot of people mention when talking about games, even though you can find them in many games. I really just wanted to express my appreciation for these things that tend to go unnoticed. I love that there are people out there who work hard to make these screens interesting for gamers, even though they probably never get feedback from gamers about their work. But surely there are other people besides me who enjoy perusing their in-game collections, right?


Photo Photo Photo

I like to try using as many different characters as I can when playing Smash. I usually rotate through a rather large list of characters, including Lucas, Ness, Diddy Kong, Bowser, Wario, Olimar, Ice Climbers, Jigglypuff, Pokemon Trainer, Falco, Ganondorf, or maybe try someone new. But there's one character who I always come back to, someone who I feel I can claim as my own, at least among my group of friends.

King Dedede was by far my favorite fighter in Brawl, and he'll no doubt stay my favorite fighter in Smash Bros. 4. But why do I like him so much? I mean, I never had too much investment in the Kirby series, although I do really like Kirby Super Star and Kirby 64! Still, something about Dedede just makes me love him.


He may be the bad guy, but he's just so happy!

At least in Brawl, Dedede always has a huge, infectious grin which makes me happy just looking at him! It makes me wonder how such a happy guy could be the arch-enemy of Kirby, but then again, does Dedede ever do anything truly evil in the Kirby games? Usually, when he does something bad, it's because he's been possessed by some greater evil. In fact, he's sometimes even seen helping Kirby out on his adventures. I don't think Dedede is really a villain. Perhaps he just has a healthy rivalry with Kirby.


He's a penguin! (maybe?)

Everyone likes penguins, right?


For his final smash, Dedede does the happiest dance ever!

Other characters might have giant laser beams or armored tanks or impressive sword techniques, but how does Dedede defeat his enemies? By singing and dancing! His jolly dance also summons a bunch of Waddle Dees and Waddle Doos to join in on the fun, creating a hectic mosh pit of happiness. Any fighters who can't handle the groove may find themselves overwhelmed and unceremoniously bumped out of the battle!


He has an army of friends willing to help him out!

His Waddle Dees and other friends don't just help him out during the final smash sequence, either. At any point in the battle, Dedede and summon a member of his army of friends to help him fight. They can block projectiles and other attacks, provide a distraction, and even do some damage, so they're useful for a variety of situations. Plus they're pretty adorable!


His hammer is almost as big as he is!

Seriously, look at that thing. It's massive! It's almost as big as Dedede himself, and Dedede is just about the biggest character on the roster. That means Dedede's hammer is bigger than most of the fighters he's smashing with it! Not to mention he's secretly housing some kind of dangerous mechanism inside the wooden weapon, making it even more powerful. It's truly a force to be reckoned with!


He has the most impressive belly in the Smash Bros. roster!

And he seems pretty dang proud of it too!


His "crouch" is hilarious!

Instead of crouching, Dedede strikes a seductive pose when you press the down button. It makes me laugh every time :)


So basically, Dedede is the best. I don't see many other players choose Dedede either, so he feels special to me because no one else seems to use him except for me. He's a powerful, happy, lovable penguin, and he's my favorite character in Smash!


Photo Photo Photo

7:24 PM on 08.21.2014

Boss music is often the most thrilling, intense music found on a video game soundtrack. Then there is the final boss music, which takes things to the extreme, highlighting the climactic action of a game. Everyone has their favorite final bosses, and I'm sure everyone also has their own favorite final boss music! Let me know what your favorites are in the comments!

The Battle for Everyone's Souls
Persona 3

If I had to pick one absolute favorite final boss theme, it would certainly be this one, hand down! It's just about the most epic battle music I can think of. Even the name of the song is epic! My favorite thing about this song is that they mixed in parts of Aria of the Soul, the operatic song that plays in the Velvet Room, only now it's faster paced and far less calming. Rather, it gets you pumped up for the grand battle against Nyx Avatar. Chances are, it's going to be a hell of a long fight, so you're going to be hearing this song for quite a while, but luckily it's so awesome that you won't even care!


Nier has just about the most perfect soundtrack I can think of, and the final boss music is no exception! Like many good final boss themes, this song starts off slow and ominous, but quickly builds up to an exciting crescendo as the battle starts to ramp up in difficulty. Like many of the songs from Nier, the Shadowlord's theme consists of Nier's mysterious language sung by a choir of angelic voices. It's really just beautiful to listen to. You'll definitely see more of the Nier soundtrack in future posts, because I cannot stress enough how great it is!

Gwyn, Lord of Cinder
Dark Souls

Not many games go with a somber tone for their final boss music. In fact, this is just about the only example I can think of, personally. And yet, I found it to be so incredibly effective! It really sets a unique mood for the fight against Gwyn. Like, should we feel sorry for this guy? He is ruling over a land of ashes after all, reduced to the title of the Lord of Cinder. Maybe Gwyn knows he is going to lose this fight, so the music reflects his current emotions. He's just trying to go out in the most noble way he can, by fighting with all his strength, maybe to return some of his lost honor? Well, he certainly puts up a hell of a fight, that's for sure!

Pokey Means Business!

Pokey may not be the actual final boss in Earthbound, but he basically acts as the battle's first form, since you fight Pokey and Giygas back-to-back. Plus, Giygas' theme is just unsettling noises and not really music. Pokey's battle theme, on the other hand, is absolutely awesome! The beginning of the song is cool enough, with an ominous chiptunes sound, certainly befitting a final boss fight. But then around 50 seconds in, it suddenly becomes this intense heavy metal song, with double bass drums and electric guitars. I was actually kind of surprised to hear this coming out of my Super Nintendo! I guess it was just so different from the rest of the music in the game that it caught me off guard. At the time, I thought it was so unique and unexpected, and I still kinda feel that way. It definitely sets the mood for a wicked final boss showdown!

The Final Battle
Final Fantasy IV

This was a really difficult choice: which final boss from the Final Fantasy series has the best theme music? They're all pretty amazing. Kefka's Dancing Mad is epic as hell, but I sometimes feel like it goes on a bit too long when I'm just listening to it. Necron's music is pretty sweet too; I like how they worked the sound of souls wailing in agony into his theme. I also have no problem with Sephiroth's One Winged Angel, which I feel gets a lot of hate these days. But I think my favorite will always be Zeromus' final battle theme from Final Fantasy IV. It was the first Final Fantasy game I ever played. Actually, it might have been the first RPG I ever played, so the music will always stick with me. The Zeromus battle has two forms. During the first form, the Prologue theme plays (possibly my absolute favorite song from the Final Fantasy series), but once you reach his second form, the battle music picks up and it becomes this epic fight for your life! I'm sure everyone else has their own favorite final boss music from the Final Fantasy series (I'm willing to bet it's probably Dancing Mad!), but this one has always left the biggest impression on me.

4:27 PM on 07.24.2014

The past few weeks, I've been playing Wild Arms. It's a pretty solid fantasy RPG, but what drew me to the game in the first place was its western theme. Much of the game seems to be tenuously related to the western genre at best, however. It's essentially a typical fantasy RPG, with some western flair to help it stand out from other RPGs. The game's soundtrack is pretty great, though. It was inspired by the music from some of my favorite spaghetti westerns, namely The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, as the overworld theme in the first game is a cover of The Ecstasy of Gold, my favorite song from Ennio Morricone's soundtrack.

This got me thinking about all of the great western-themed songs I've heard from other games. Westerns tracks tend to be a favorite of mine, because they always remind me of Sergio Leone's films. My fascination with the western genre is sort of a recent development, I only started watching westerns about four or five years ago, when I got the sudden urge to watch a Clint Eastwood movie and decided on The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. It instantly became one of my favorite movies, and since then, I've seen most of Sergio Leone's other films, and a few westerns from other directors as well.

This week's theme will obviously be the western genre. I thought of a lot more than five examples that I really liked, so there will probably be a sequel to this theme in the future (in case you're wondering where Guacamelee is). What do you guys think of western films/games?

The Shootist 
Red Dead Redemption

Ah, Red Dead Redemption... by far the most perfect game to play after binging on a bunch of spaghetti western films! If you ever want to play a game where you can pretty much be the Man with No Name, this is certainly the game to play. Of course, you do have a name, and a family and everything, so it's not exactly the same, but it's just about as close as you're gonna get. Obviously, the whole soundtrack is worth looking into if you like western music. The Shootist just happens to be my personal favorite track. It's got everything: whistling, rattlesnake noises, twangs, horns, men shouting "hah!"... and it's got a slick sound to it, befitting a talented gunslinger like John Marston.

Spike in a Rail 

The Bastion soundtrack is a beautiful thing. It manages to simultaneously bring to mind images of the Wild West and some sort of futuristic fantasy world. Some of the tracks sound like they could have been taken straight out of Firefly. The vocal tracks are definitely the highlight of the soundtrack (I'll no doubt be revisiting those in a future blog), but the instrumental tracks are, in my opinion, equally brilliant. There are several tracks I could have chosen here (Slinger's Song is another excellent choice), but the energy of Spike in a Rail makes it a favorite of mine. It sounds like a theme song for a badass cowboy riding into town like he owns the place, while outlaws stand around giving him the stink-eye.

Shadow's Theme
Final Fantasy VI

This song was an interesting choice for a character who is essentially a ninja. You might expect something with a little more eastern influence (kinda like Cyan's Theme), but Shadow's twangy theme certainly evokes images of the west. And somehow, it makes perfect sense. Shadow is a loner and a mercenary, much like the Man with No Name. Working on your own and taking assassination jobs to make money does seem like a very Wild West thing to do. Only instead of having a faithful horse companion, Shadow has a super loyal doberman partner.

Hidden Village 
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

I'll be honest, I actually completely forgot about this song until I heard it in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. This is probably because I played Twilight Princess before I started watching western films, so it didn't stand out to me as much back then. But now, the Hidden Village is one of my favorite areas in Twilight Princess. It's essentially a ghost town; only one resident still resides there (Impaz).The town certainly looks like something straight out of a western; I'd expect to see some tumbleweeds roll by as Link rides his horse up to the nearest saloon! Too bad the place is deserted...

Nowhere to Run
Rayman Origins

This one gets bonus points for the whistling. There's nothing like a good whistled tune to give something that old Wild West feeling. I mean, look at all the tunes the Man with No Name had, whistling as he rode into town. Or even the cowboy from Cowboy Bebop (you know the one). Aside from the music, the Land of the Livid Dead is not a particularly western setting, it's basically a graveyard of undead, agitated grannies. Platforming-wise, it's also the most intense level of the game, so having some awesome music to accompany the often frustrating difficulty certainly helped make these levels very enjoyable. I found myself whistling along to the music as I died over and over!