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About
So I play games, watch movies, eat loads of pizza, drink loads of Dr Pepper and comment far too much on this site.

Attending University, hoping to not fail too hard and become a Clinical Psychologist. And in debt. But a Psychologist first.

A Playstation fan (NOT FANBOY!) but I have a soft spot for the Mega Drive.

Chiptune music is my passion, Mega Drive being my favourite.

Kingdom Hearts is the best series ever. I will fight you if you disagree!

Anyway, enough about me. Here's Hitler-senpai.


Also Fenrif is amazing, thanks for this masterpiece man!


Kudos to Jinx 01 for the banner! You sexy, sexy bastard.

Current blogs and series:
-Genesis Retrospective
Elemental Master
Altered Beast
Michael Jackson's Moonwalker

-Standalone blogs
Emotional moments in vidogames
Top 10 fetishes of all time
Top 10 chiptunes!
10 Things about GajKnight!
I bought a 3DS!
My Favourite game:Kingdom Hearts 2
Player Profile
PSN ID:Gaj76
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Picking a favourite game is hard work. What constitutes a favourite game? The one that made you the most emotional? The one with the most memories attached to it? The best one in terms of game design and lasting impact on the industry?

At first I went for Streets of Rage 2. My dad and I spent a lot of time bonding over this game, as a kid and while I grew up into the mildly sweaty nerd I am today. When he passed away a few years ago, the game meant even more to me than it already did. A window into the good old days, when we cleaned the streets together, me with my Dr Pepper and my dad with his whisky.

Then I thought of Final Fantasy XII. To me, this game is the pinnacle of JRPG’s. It does so much right that whatever it does wrong is negligible and I’ve spent hundreds, perhaps even a thousand or more, hours just exploring, min maxing, speedrunning and a whole host of other pointless things. I spent 15 hours grinding my character to level 99 before leaving the first city. For fun. This game got me into JRPG’s and nothing has come close to dethroning it.

But in the end, there was only one answer to this question. It all comes back to Kingdom Hearts 2. And that’s because it has both the emotional impact and memories of Streets of Rage, while also being one of the best action-RPG’s I’ve ever played.

Let’s break down the components that make KH2 the best game ever.

Gameplay

The gameplay fucking rocks. Very action based, all about high speed combos and constant movement, with lots of over the top abilities (RAGNORAK!), magic and all of it totally customisable. You can make an 8 hit long combo or shorten it to just 2 hits, it’s totally up to you. While it doesn’t let you choose between focusing on magic or melee, as they level up automatically whether you want them to or not, they both are so much fun to use that you won’t even care.

And talking about gameplay, you cannot talk about KH without talking about bosses. Ice titan, Hades, Axel, Sephiroth, Xemnas, all the Organisation XIII fights. They are constantly inventive and force you to mix up your play style. Sometimes it’s just a case of mashing the attack button till they die. Others you may need to time your blocks and launch careful counterattacks, sometimes you may have a time limit. They are always different and always fun.


Especially Sephiroth's fight. Love that fight.

Also you can dual wield keyblades. DUAL. WIELD. KEYBLADES. Amazing! I’ve beaten KH2 many, many times and I’m not close to being bored. Just put the difficulty to Proud mode. It’s a little on the easy side. :D

Characters

 
Oh Sora and Riku, you so kawaii desu.

Sora, the main character and the one you play as, is a super nice guy and always on the side of justice and doing the right thing. He’s equal parts goofy, serious, smart and sensitive. Essentially, someone easy to relate to and play as. Couple that with Donald Duck and Goofy, who remind me of the best parts of my childhood and are on form in KH2, and you have a very strong trio of heroes that make any cut-scene a joy to watch.

The supporting characters all get this level of care as well. Roxas, Namine, Axel, they all have well defined identities (or not, considering they are nobodies HAHAHAHA…I’m sorry) and personalities. Even the bad guys have their own flair. From the kinda annoying idiocy of ‘DANCE WATER, DANCE!’ to Saix’s brooding manner or Xemnas’s preaching and fanatical ramblings, it makes you want to see who you’ll meet next, what you’ll see next.

This fucking guy. This FUCKING guy.
Just be glad gifs don't have sound.

And of course, Disney. If you love Disney, you’ll love KH2. Nightmare before Christmas, The Little Mermaid, Lion King, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, they all make an appearance. Hell you turn into a super cute lion in the Lion King world! It’s just so much fun to see these icons from my childhood and fighting alongside them, hearing them talk, going through the events of the story but altered. Pure joy.

Memories

KH2 holds a special part in my heart. I was around 14 when I played it and it left a huge impression on me. As a shy kid who had quite a few friends but only 2 really close friends, I looked at games as my main avenue for having fun and seeing new things. Before KH2 I just played games for the fun of it, to enjoy the gameplay and character’s, not looking at how they made me feel, what the main themes were or anything below the surface. But KH2 changed all that. All this talk of ‘darkness’ and ‘nobodies’ and ‘shadows’ seems like convoluted tripe but for me, it just went deeper.


Good times man.

It was a story about friendship and looking out for friends, no matter what. It was about redemption, owning upto mistakes and amending them the best you can. It was about identity and what YOU think about yourself. KH2 kick-started a radical shift in my perception of videogames and helped me look critically at games, dissect them more than I ever did before. And therefore, it helped me enjoy games on a whole other level.

And it has Donald Duck wielding a sceptre in it, Goofy sliding around on a shield like my mother at an ice rink and Pete tripping me up with marbles!

What a marvellous game.
Also best fan-fiction ever.









So you may have heard of this Zoe Quinn malarkey? I have. While I have my views on it, both sides have acted like idiots (as they always fucking do, omg I donít even know why Iím surprised) so Iím extremely tired of it. Therefore Iím doing another of my Retrospectives. It lives!


Yo dawg, I'm, like, alive and shit. Whatevs man. Radical.

Anyway, the game weíll take down memory lane today is Michael Jacksonís Moonwalker. Thinking about this game makes me laugh in many, many different way. First letís talk about the premise.

You play as Michael Jackson and go through 5 stages which are split into 3 parts each. The goal of the game is too rescue children. Wait, what? Yep, rescue children, specifically Katie from the Moonwalker movie which the game is based on.

Now the game was released in 1990, before the charges of abuse were brought up. But still, itís quite hard to look at the game in the same way in retrospect. I played the game in 1998 (I think, probably, sure lets go with that) and I was thinking Ďam I seriously playing this game?í As a kid, I believed MJ was guilty as hell. Now, not so much. The point is, those events paint the game in a different light.


I love the guy but damn his personal life was messed up.

But moving past that, the gameplay consisted of MJ doing his thang, walking around, pulling some sweet ass dance moves and shooting sparkly projectiles from his hand. Because heís the king of pop! Geddit? Nor do I. The levels are multi-layered and MJ usually works his way around, beating up gangsters in spiffing blue suits and some Ďladies of the nightí, I assume. His attacks include his signature hand flying out to the side, his wobbly leg thing that was cool for some reason and those aforementioned sparkly sparkles of death. And pop.

The goal is to open doors, where multiple Katies (again, I donít know) are being held. One of the most annoying things in the game was that EVERY SINGLE TIME YOU SAVED KATIE, SHE WOULD SAY íMICHAEL!í AND IT GOT OLD REALLY FAST. Especially with the Genesis soundchip, which made her voice sound like Maleficent talking through a kitchen roll. Not pleasant. Eventually youíll save all of Katieís clones and then a money with a gun will appear, jump on your shoulder and guide you to where you have to go.
Iím not even going to comment on this, there really is no need.


Monkey's fucking wrecking shit, getting his hoes back from da man yo!

Once you reach the area that Monkey wants, heíll fuck off and then a minority in a trench coat will say ĎHAHA! YOUíLL NEVER CATCH ME!í He will then run away, while MJ stands by like an idiot and a flood of enemies invade the screen. This is where you can use the best, most awesome thing in the game. Pressing down a button makes MJ spin like a Beyblade spun by Super Saiyan level 4 Goku. It drains health but youíll not need it. If held for more than 2 seconds, the enemies will awkwardly jiggle themselves into position and perform a dance number! Seriously! Itís pretty rad, they do that leaning crazily to one side thing and then everyone except MJ dies, usually. Too much fabulous, not enough time.


So, so, so much kawaii desu.

Itís pretty much this for the entire game. Each stage has its own theme (club, street, woods, cavern and hideout in that order) and own enemy types, including thugs in hawt leather jackets, zombies that love jumping and generic military laser gun men in blue and green varieties. But itís the final fight that settles this game as a masterpiece (slight hyperbole there). After doing that youíve done the entire game, youíll face minority in trench coat one more time. AndÖhe fucks off again! No fight against him, no sir. Instead about 100 enemies will flood the screen. But wait, why is MJ flashing? Whatís this cut-scene? Whatís on MJís face? IS HE TURNING WHITE? Oh shit, heís turned into aÖrobot?


KELLLLLLLLLL! I'M SCARRRRRREEEEEEDDDDDDD!

This game guys and gals. This game. So MJ is now a robot that can shoot laser out of his eyes. Time to wreck shit! After killing way too many enemies, itís done, a message screen commends you for killing all the bad guys, evading all the traps and Ďsavingí the kids. They will love their new home at GajKnightís Brothelô. Not really. Itís not called GajKnightís Brothel.

But wait, thereís more! Itís seems, wait, itís time to fight Mr Big (really, thatís his name. Yeah.) So off we go to space in our spaceship in pursuit. Wait, wait a minute, wait. WHAT?!!!


Literally my reaction.

So after killing bad guys by making them fall over, following the directions of a monkey and turning into a mecha, the only logical conclusion is a space battle, amirite? I can dig it. The actual battle itself is from a cockpit view and has you lining up shots to take out Mr Big and various ships. Itís pretty crude honestly, not the hype as hell ending I expected. But you are playing as Mecha Jackson in space. Thatís still pretty hype, all things considered. Beating Mr Big rewards you with a cut-scene of Mecha Jackson flying off to god knows where, probably Uranus to rescue the indigenous people from the plague of Justin Beiber or something, I dunno. Then the credits roll and MJ is shown dancing. With a random black kid because why not?


Just had to put this here. Great tune!

Honestly, Iíve never seen Moonwalker so I donít know if all these things are part of the movie. But judging the game on its own, itís just batshit insane. It has no context, no reasoning for anything (who da fuck is dat monkey though?!) and itís just plain weird to see people being killed by dancing. Though Iíve definitely hurt many people with my sick moves (read: literally, they make people sick), Iíve never killed anyone. Intentionally.

I couldn't talk about this game without mentioning the controversy around its soundtrack. Apparently MJ himself worked on the music, something which he denied afterwards, yet Sega insist he did. I donít know and frankly I donít care because I love the soundtrack. Trying to get MJís music to run on the Genesis and still keep that soul and tone of the original is not an enviable task by any means. Fun, exciting, maybe. But you probably donít want to mess that up. Thankfully all the tracks are well done and keep the music intact while playing to the Genesisís strengths: sick bass and thumping good tunes.



The bass is so nice in these tracks. Just sitting there in the background giving a nice ambience to everything. The punchy tunes are classic Genesis sounds and mesh well with MJís music. These versions are very close to the originals I found. Unique enough to stand on their own but similar enough to invoke that nostalgia value.








Well thatís another soundtrack done and dusted. As always, download links for the tracks are below in various formats. So what do you think? Does the game pique your interest? Howís the music? Is Mecha Jackson the most awesome thing ever concocted?! Sound off below. Thanks for reading nerds!

Download Links.
http://www.16bitaudiophileproject.org/michael-jacksons-moonwalker/
FLAC, MP3, you get the drill.








So bear with me a moment guys. Recently I finished watching Neon Genesis Evangelion. For anyone who doesn't know, itís a very famous anime that basically breathed life back into the genre in the 90ís and is looked on with equal amounts of adoration and hatred. But the point is, I finished watching it. And, on me mams life, I cried the most I have cried in a very long time.



NGE really got to me. Its plot fascinated and enthralled me. Its characterís really touched me. Shinjiís (the main characterís) inner demons, his self-doubt and his relationship with his father were enthralling. And I spent a lot of time reflecting on my experience with this anime.

To bring this back to videogames, I realised soon after that me crying isnít much of a rare occurrence. Iím actually really sensitive and didn't realise it or at least didn't acknowledge it. And most of my more sensitive moments were videogame related. So I thought Iíd put together a little blog about the gaming moments that touched me deeply.
(Note: Spoilers for Shadow of the Colossus)



rain (ending)

rain was a small game from Studio Japan that came and went. It flew under the radar sadly, which is a shame because it is up there with Journey in terms of PSN gems that everyone should play. In it, you play as a boy who can only be seen in the rain. He sees a girl similar to him who is being chased by shadowy monsters and he runs to help her. The restÖwell, play the game nerds!

Anyway, I went into rain looking for a nice, moody little art game. And I got exactly that. But what I didnít expect was to feel so, well, emotional. As the game plays, ambient music in the background subtly works to engage you emotionally. One of my favourite pieces of music ever, Claire de Lune, is in the soundtrack and, hand on heart, itís my favourite version. The characters donít talk, yet you love them so, so much by the end. They are beautifully animated and their voiceless communication and antics just make them that much more endearing.


The most beautiful thing you'll hear today.

But the ending tipped me over the edge and opened the floodgates. I wonít spoil anything but Iíll just say that ĎClaire de Luneí plays, a cut-scenes starts and I have a moment of utter happiness and crushing sadness. Iím getting a little emotional just typing this honestly. Itís just pure interactive beauty, something only a game could do because Iím so invested after everything IíVE done.

I honestly canít really explain why the ending go me so emotional. It just did. I was sobbing within seconds and I didnít have the faintest clue why. Itís one of those I guess.



Persona 3 Portable (ending)

Iím going to assume everyone knows about Persona 3 by this point so Iíll save the intro. ;)
Well the True Ending of the game, like the ending of rain, got to me. This also applies to Persona 4 Golden as well but I played P3P recently so Iíll use it as my example. Same deal with rain, I was so invested in the characters, setting, everything. But what made me bawl like a baby wasnít really the ending (though it was a very beautiful ending). It was that the journey was over. I spent 70 hours in P3Pís world. 70 hours hanging with my bro Junpei, romancing all the girls (but I felt most for Mitsuru because I could relate to her plight the most), eating Takoyaki, listening that infectious music. I LIVED in that world. And now it was over. Done. It was too†


This song has still not left my damn head!

Saying goodbye to all of that was hard. It may sound lame, and really it is. Itís a bunch of pixels, who gives a fuck right? But still, it was sad. Thinking about it though, itís that good kind of sadness really. The kind where it breaks your heart but you know that you can always come back and start again. Itís not the end really.



Shadow of the Colossus (Agroís death)

Iím also going to assume most people have played or know all about SotC. Because if you donít then omg, what is wrong with you?
SotC is an emotional rollercoaster anyway. Slaying these massive behemoths, flying through the air clinging to wings as big as a planeís, being dragged underwater and surfing on the back of one of them, you experience and do a lot. And through it all, Agro is there with you, diligently carrying you to each encounter and even fighting with you on occasion. In retrospective, his death was obvious. But I damn well didnít know that!


Actually this is the most beautiful thing you'll hear today. :P

So when Wander and Agro cross that bloody bridge and it gives way and instead of Agro trying to rush to the end, he just throws you to safety and plummets to his death, I was shocked to my core. I didnít want to continue. It wasnít fair. I and Agro had made it this far, TOGETHER. Why bond me so completely too this horse, this dumb horse who didnít follow my commands and controlled terribly, just to rip him away at the last minute? It was cruel for him to die and I quite literally hated the game. Needless to say, I shanked that last colossus so hard.


Best. Horse. Ever.

I really love Shadow of the colossus. It, to me, is the culmination of everything I love about videogames, of living and breathing another world and giving up reality for something, well, better and nothing has come close to toppling it. Because it made me cry over a horse. A dumb, stupid, horse.


There are more moments but I felt these were some of the stronger ones. What all this made me realise is how powerful games can be. I can count the number of TV shows, books and movies that me extremely emotional on one hand (Breaking Bad, Taxi Driver, No Country for Old Men, His Dark Materials trilogy). Yet there are at least 10 games that made me all tight chested. Such is their emotional weight.†

It makes me excited for what the future may bring, how developers can use these pixels to twist my emotions to their will and transport me to somewhere where Iíll never want to leave. Iím excited for whatever new project Studio Japan have cooking. Iím excited to meet all new characters in Persona 5. And I still clutch to the hope that The Last Guardian will one day be released and live up to its full potential.

Because this really is the reason I play games.


So how about you guys and gals? Any games that made you cry like little babies? Or just feel really emotional? Or am I just a massive pussy?








Everyone has a fetish, albeit with varying levels of extremity and fluids. Sometimes itís a type of person, an object, a situation or just a feeling. But we all have one. Well I have 10 of Ďem! Of all time!

So hereís my top 10, totally serious, not at all written for a joke list of fetishes. I also dedicate this blog to Dreamweaver and sonic429. You sick fucks. ;)

10. Dtoid (specifically Hamza)

If you donít have a fetish for this hot piece of ass, then what is wrong with you?!




9. Yaoi
Yaoi (not to be confused with the other Yaoi) is the sexual attraction to Yaoi Guaiís (totally correct spelling). Yaoi Guai's have it all. A bit of fur to stroke as I ponder the future, strength to protect me from all aggressors and big strong paws to jerk me off with vigor. Truly the all in one pleasure machine.




8. Bathrobes
Itís not so much the robes themselves (though Iíd never say no to a baby blue robe and a glass of champagne) but the insinuation that the person is wearing JUST the robe. Nothing else.

Hawt.



7. Peering into peopleís heads
Iíve been doing this for years, with a wide variety of people and itís been consistently enjoyable. There is nothing better than using the tools at your disposal and a little ingenuity and force to peer into someoneís head and saviour the beauty that resides inside.




6. Tsundereís
Now this is actually not so much a joke. I find tsundere characterís pretty interesting. The whole Ďcold but gradually open up and become welcomingí angle works for me. Much better than other anime tropes



5. Actirasty (AKA attraction to sun rays)
You know what Iím about to do.
Praise the sun!



4. Sonic Fan-fiction
In the year 1991AD, our lord delivered unto us our saviour, Sonic. With his birth an age of wonder began, filled with platforming perfection and words that are now rendered immortal and a code that we should live by. ĎGotta go fastí. Alas our lord has gone into hiding, cast out by the heretical scum of the Mario pagans and the failing of his own father, hallowed be his name. But we, his beloved and maligned children, have carried on his legacy, with our writings, theological discussions into his past and possible (sexy) futures and, of course, our bountiful images that do not do our master justice.

We are his offspring. We carry his legacy on, in all of us, we carry a piece of Sonic.
Sonic is love. Sonic is life.




3. Millions of crawling spiders inside bosoms
I never knew I wanted this. But the many musings of a certain community member who shall not be named have awakened in me a wish. That wish is spiders.
Millions and millions of spiders. Just barely kept back by skin stretched thin by the bulging mass of legs and eyes. Thin, milky white cords of silk interweave like tendons, straining to keep back the flood within two sacks of a buxom maiden, filled with her beautiful children.
Truly, this is the American Dream.




2. DP
I love DP.




1. Naoto Shirogane

What is there to say? The embodiment of perfection. She is what we all try to measure up to and none of us come even close. Perfection, personified.


So that's my (totally legit) top 10 fetishes. What are yours? I know you have one, you naughty boy/girl/sonic429. Share with me your secrets!








Another top 10 list! Cause there just ainít been enough of them amiright?

No but I love top 10 lists. Simple and straight to the point, without all the faffing and essay structuring. So here are my quick top 10 chiptunes. They are in order of awesome, of course.



10. Shovel Knight-Strike the Earth

Iíve not played Shovel Knight yet. I really should though, I think weíd get along so well (GajKnightÖShovel Knight, geddit, yeah, gg, job done) but Iím holding out for the Vita release. I did download the soundtrack the moment it became available though. Jake Kaufman OSTís are day 1 buys for me, no doubt, and Shovel Knight just didnít disappoint even slightly.

I could fill this list just with Kaufman tracks but suffice to say, heís truly a gifted artist and I hope he makes sweet, sweet music directly into my earhole for a long time.

Directly. Into. My. Earhole.




9. Hotline Miami- Hydrogen

YES I KNOW ITíS NOT A CHIPTUNE! Itís still really, really amazing though. So let us just pretend it is and save ourselves 2.5 minutes of arguing. Also I couldnít think of another joke so thereís that. Humourís hard yo.



8. Sub-Terrania- Funky Writer

Sub-Terraniaís another game Iíve never played. I should really play these games to hear the context of their music. Regardless Funky Writer is a really good track, from a respectably good soundtrack. Itís got a foreboding atmosphere lurking behind all dat funk and bass.

Interestingly, Jesper Kyd composed this soundtrack. He also composed some of the Ass Creed and Hitman soundtracks, as well as Borderlands, State of Decay and Darksiders 2 (totally did not steal this from Wikipedia).

I also thought he developed Lone Survivor but that was Jasper Byrne. Easy mistake I guess. Not really. Iím dumb.


I couldn't find a proper Youtube video (they all sound funny) so here's a direct link to the album on Bandcamp.

7. 1001 Spikes-Abanís Theme (Both versions)

Another game Iíve not played! This is becoming a problem now.
But regardless of whether the game is good or not, the soundtrack is REALLY good. Abanís theme especially is the best track in the album. Misokaís version is classic stuff, great backing beat, lovely synth on top and all wrapped up with really good production.
Then the Key version comes after and dials it upto 11. The backing track is more aggressive, the synth is even synthier(?) than before, itís just so good girl. Love it.



6. Elemental Master- Until the End of the Earth

Iíve talked about this track and this album in my last blog (read it now nerd!) so I wonít go into too much detail. Suffice to say that this track made me go and hunt down the iso so I could play the actual game. Totally worth, it, fantastic game, even better soundtrack.


Extended version cause WHY NOT?

5. The Revenge of Shinobi- China Town

I have a love-hate relationship with Revenge of Shinobi. Iíve never beaten it, ever. It was the first game I ever played and it almost turned me off of games completely due to how BALL-BUSTING hard it is! Iíve recently bought it on PSN and died countless time just trying to get to the second level. Argggh, this game man, this game. Iíd call it cheap and out-dated but Iíd sound like a lame ass baby.

But one thing is clear. The soundtrack kicks ass. And China Town especially. It has that old Japanese feel to it with the oriental sounding tones but the sick bass and poppy sounds lend a modern semblance. Essentially this is the perfect track for an old-school ninja fighting in a modern city. One day I will know that feeling.



4. Altered Beast- RYSE FWOM YOUR GWAEV!

This is another track and album I covered in detail before (go read that too nerds!)
So hereís Altered Jesus.


Why is not a thing?!



3. Outrun- Magical Sound Shower

This is the final song from a game Iíve never played, I promise! But what a song.
I canít even begin to describe how, well, just how nice this song is. It reminds me of long drives in the countryside during sunset, or sitting in the garden reading while simultaneously dodging birdshit and suicidal squirrels. Good times. Itís simple, clean and oh so good.



2. Sonic 1- Green Hill Zone (AKA pure happiness)

This was coming. You knew it, I knew it, everyone knew it. It came.†

Everywhere.

Green Hill Zone is the best track in all of the Sonic soundtracks. And that comes down to one word. Nostalgia. That moment when you put Sonic 1 in and start the game proper. The graphics pop up, in all their sexy, 16 bit glory. Sonic moves like a blue streaked lightning bolt, with perfect momentum. And this track plays. One of the most magical moments in gaming right there.

Realistically, I would say that Chemical Plant Zone is really the best Sonic track overall. But my nostalgia goggles are firmly blinding me. Also Mega Drive Sonic>Mario. Come at me!


LOVE THIS SHIT!!!

1. Streets of Rage 2-The entire fucking album man, I donít know, sue me. Expander, there ya go.

What a contrived and totally expected first spot. Yeah I know. But if it ainít broke, donít break it. Thereís a reason people cite Streets of Rage 2 as one of the best soundtracks in gaming and thatís because itís baller ass, sick wicked awesome.

Expander is, I guess, the best track because itís fast paced, with amazing bass, synth, build ups, everything. All condensed into 2:29 of head bopping glory. But Go Straight has that amazing nostalgia value that only first level songs have. And Dreamer is just so awesome as well. And so is Never Return Alive. And Alien Power. And Revenge of Mr X.

Best. Soundtrack. Ever.


So that's my top 10 chiptunes. I think it's a pretty alright list. What do you think?
Leave your vitriol in that space below these words. See ya later dudes!








The Genesis (or Mega-drive, for us Europeans) is easily one of my favourite consoles of all time, just edging out the PS2 in my esteem. With it's varied library of amazing games, unforgettable experiences and innovation, it definitely deserves it place in video game history.†

But mentioning the Genesis without mentioning it's incredible musical accomplishments would be an oversight of biblical proportions. Paving the way for dance/synth music in video games, it gave us classic soundtracks from the likes of Streets of Rage, Revenge of Shinobi and Sonic the Hedgehog that still hold up as some of the best soundtracks available today.

With this blog series, I hope to bring back some attention to the forgotten gems in the Genesis library and rekindle my own love of these classics. The focus is on the music, as that is what I love the most about the Genesis but I'll also go into detail on other things. (Shout out to robertoplankton for the fantastic idea!)

So without further ado, lets start off this weeks entry with a game that is extraordinary in every respect, yet tragically overlooked: Elemental Master


The American box-art is much better than the Japanese box-art. And even better than the European box-art...which doesn't exist.

Elemental Master is a top-down shoot-em up released in 1990 in Japan and 1993 in North America. Sadly Europe never got it (damn you Sega!!!) so I only got to play it a few years ago through 'other means'. I'm glad I did though because it is fantastic in every way.

Interestingly, the game does have a story and almost all of it happens in the very beginning! As soon as you start a new game, a pretty good looking cut-scene starts that shows your character, Laden, confronting the antagonist, Gyra. But wait, what's this?! Gyra takes off his mask and reveals himself to be...Roki, Laden's brother! OMG! This all happens at the very beginning, before any gameplay at all and was pretty cool because I can't remember a game, especially a shmup, that would drop such a big story bomb literally 20 seconds in.†


You do that Laden. Enjoy your fratricide as well.

The music that played during this section also sets the tone for the rest of the game perfectly. Upbeat and with a strong techno vibe, if you're not bobbing your head to the beat then you clearly have something wrong with you. I mean seriously, this is super impressive stuff. So much going on and just, ah, I love it. So good!


Great tune. And it's not even the best one.

After the cut-scene, you had the choice to pick from 4 levels, each representing a different element (Fire, Water, Earth and Wind) and which can be tackled in any order, Mega-man style. After these are 3 more levels in linear order then the final boss. Moving onto gameplay, the game set itself apart from the other shmups of it's time by letting you control a character on foot (which leads to the 'running in place' animation looking exceptionally stupid), rather than a ship or vehicle, and allowed you to shoot at the top of the screen but also at the BOTTOM! This meant enemies could come up from behind or flank you and you'd have to turn around to shoot them. And since the screen auto scrolled and enemies would send projectiles every which way from both the top and bottom, the pace was RELENTLESS!

And there were other factors to account for too! Environmental hazards littered the level, like lava streams. So inbetween attacking enemies from the top and bottom, you also had to dodge these hazards. Chaotic doesn't begin to describe it.


This is a more quiet moment. Savour it as it doesn't last long.

Enemies are fairly standard fodder and aren't really stand outs, though they look very nice. They could use more animation to feel more, well, animated but they're fine. The bosses though completely blew me away with the large amounts of animation that they had and them being multi-sprited only added to their size and presence. The battles really felt fun to fight and dodging and weaving the hail of projectiles was exhilarating. The water boss stands out as a firm favourite, as does the final encounter with Roki. And the ending cut-scene...well, that was seriously good shit, made the entire journey worthwhile!

But despite all this, the game won't tax shmup enthusiasts. Laden has a lot of powers and all are useful everywhere besides a few encounters where you have to use a specific power. And you can charge them up for very powerful attacks. Add to that health increases and pickups everywhere, you get a moderately easy game. I managed to beat the game on my third go and I don't even play shmups!


This boss was the one that killed me the first time. But I got that fucker, got him GOOD!

Finally getting to the best part of this game, the soundtrack. It kicks so much ass you don't even know. This is one of my favourite Mega Drive soundtracks, up there with Streets of Rage 2 and Sonic 2.†

Standouts include 'Until the End of the Earth', an amazing, high energy track that just has so much awesome in it that I can't even describe it. By far the best track in the game, which is saying something.



Then there's 'Blood-stained Lake', which hooks you with it's satisfying bass claws and doesn't let you go.†



'Fate' is another fun track with some really heavy bass and a super quick tempo.†



'Calling on the Dark Dragon King' rocks. I love the distorted sound the Genesis makes here, it just fits so well.†



And the song that ends the game, 'Setting Out'. The upbeat, happy vibe is so good after the final boss and the variety in the track with all the build ups just shows that the composer had a lot of fun writing this piece.



These are only some of my favourite tracks from the game. All the tracks are amazing and worth listening too in their own right.



So that's another one done and dusted. I hope reading about a fairly obscure Mega Drive game was at least partially entertaining. If not then I hope the music tickled your fancy!

What do you make of Elemental Master? Sound like something you'd enjoy? What about the music, is it your cup of tea? Till next time nerds, Gaj out!

Download links
http://www.16bitaudiophileproject.org/elemental-master/
MP3 (320), FLAC and 96/24 FLAC available.