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Splashdown and Melissa Kaplan

I wonder how many people that read DToid have heard of Splashdown? (No, not that old Jet-Ski racing game for PS2 and Xbox...) Splashdown is an awesome band formed in 1996, and their history and its former members are now intertwined with the game industry. I can't talk to anyone in real life about it, so I'm writing it here on Destructoid.

So I've been playing the recently released Assassin's Creed II and loving it (unlike some other people I know... :P). Did you know that it (as well as the first AC) has vocals by Melissa Kaplan in it? Who's Melissa Kaplan, and why should I care, you ask? Well, why don't I tell you?

(this is an old, but widely-distributed image of Melissa Kaplan)

Melissa Kaplan, the girl with the voice of an angel, is the former singer of a band named Splashdown. Splashdown is a late 90's band--one of the few deserving to belong in the "trip-hop" genre--and is one that I lovingly refer to as "the greatest band that never existed." The story of Splashdown is extremely tragic. To make a long story short, (or one you can read on their Wiki page) Splashdown was an incredible band. Every song they produced was magical. It's like aurally eating a milky way ice cream bar. But trouble happened between them and their record label (Capitol), and they disbanded because of it.

I discovered Splashdown post-breakup. And in a way, it broke my heart as well. It's very difficult, mentally, to become extremely excited and depressed simultaneously. To discover this incredible gem of a band, one that touches your heart so perfectly, and listening to all their brilliant music in one day and then discovering hours later that they don't exist, and you'll never be able to find or purchase any of their albums or support them in any way. Or going into a record store and asking if they have any Splashdown and the store clerk looking at you like you're crazy. I would have followed Splashdown to the ends of the Earth.

(Kasson Crooker performing with Freezepop at this year's PAX)

Anyway -- one of Splashdown's other members, Kasson Crooker, later helped in founding the band "Freezepop" (I never liked Freezepop as much as Splashdown, though) Kasson is also the audio director at Harmonix... (y'know, that little company that made Guitar Hero and later, Rock Band?) So let's talk about Kasson for a moment. Kasson was also involved with two other Harmonix games before they became "big" called Frequency and Amplitude. If you go back and play these games, you can clearly see how much they paved the way for Guitar Hero/Rock Band. You have your highway, and your vehicle that drives down it. You have notes that fly in from the distance, and you have to hit those notes at the right time to go along with the beat to win. Amplitude even has customizable avatars! Guitar Hero may take all the credit, since it became popularized due to the rock music it featured, but it's these games that are the true the pioneers of the genre.

Back to Miss Kaplan. She later formed her own self-made band called Universal Hall Pass, which most likely you haven't heard of, unless you're a Kaplan fan like myself. Krooker has helped Kaplan produce some of the tracks on her albums too, so it's almost like Splashdown is reincarnated again through this new music. UHP has 2 albums out right now, the first one is all new songs, and the second one is mostly remixes of the previous album. Some of the tracks aren't quite as good or as memorable as Splashdown in their heyday, but it's still wonderful, great music, all with Kaplan's heavenly voice leading the way. (I'm pretty partial to "Dragonfly," "Solar/Lunar," and "Avatar") Kaplan has also done a trip-hop version of Johnny Cash's Ring of Fire! So go to her site and check it out.

Splashdown left us behind a mere 55 songs: 3 released albums (2 EPs and 1 LP) 2 unreleased albums, and 1 unreleased song. They are one of my all-time favorite bands and you should give them a listen if you consider yourself a music lover. Besides, most of, if not all their music can be found easily and freely online, and the band left a note encouraging everyone to share it. Love them along with me, and support Melissa Kaplan! With a voice and talent like that, she most certainly deserves it.

Listening to: Cave Radio by Universal Hall Pass
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About Infinitys Endone of us since 11:38 PM on 03.31.2008

Favorite games, in absolutely no particular order - Just how they started popping in my head.

Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island
Super Metroid
Metroid Zero Mission
Metroid Fusion
Metroid II: Return of Samus
Metroid Prime
Metroid Prime 3: Corruption
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow
Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin
Super Castlevania IV
Megaman X
Megaman 2 (NES)
The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time
The Legend of Zelda A Link to the Past
The Legend of Zelda Link's Awakening
The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess
The Legend of Zelda Majora's Mask
The Legend of Zelda Wind Waker
The Legend of Zelda
Super Mario Bros. 3
Super Mario World
Super Mario 64
Super Mario Galaxy
Metal Slug series
Alien Hominid
Tetris NES (Tengen)
The New Tetris (N64)
Tetris DS
Bust A Move
Ms. Pac-Man
Mario Kart 64
Mario Kart DS
Super Smash Bros.
Super Smash Bros. Melee
Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Final Fantasy VI
Chrono Trigger
Secret of Mana
Seiken Densetsu III
Vagrant Story
Gunstar Heroes
Gunstar Super Heroes
Sin and Punishment
Astro Boy: The Omega Factor
Maniac Mansion
Day of the Tentacle
Full Throttle
Grim Fandango
Shadow of the Colossus
Shadowman (N64)
StarFox 64
Demon's Crest
No More Heroes

I'm also a DDR fan, but don't play it that much anymore (i'm out of shape).
and there are probably more that I can't think of right now...