For quite some time, I've pondered which waste of time do I prefer: music or video games? Fingers clawing down my face, leaving trails of blood and sickly yellow fingernails. Nasty, nasty marks that will never go away. I can't just relax and enjoy myself, I need answers.
This latest blog probably isn't going to help much. Call it a spontaneous vomit of digital bullplop from a total lack of an understanding of self, because that is exactly what this is. You might get a kick out of it, but I take no pleasure in redoing what I've already fucking done. It's a vent, pure and simple. (Probably) Nothing to be taken from it, hardly anything for me to gain.
Enjoy, if you're an awful person.
"Kakariko Village" - Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
This be the hottest version, though, as far as I'm concerned. Sometimes, when an older track is updated with clearer instruments and more polish, a little bit or even much of it's charm is lost in the process. Not in this case, guy(s). It's still such a beautiful melody, and it's spirit has increased tenfold. Definitely getting a Paper Mario: Sticker Star vibe from it.
"Midboss" - Shin Megami Tensei IV
The most badass/intense collaboration of keys, drums, bass and guitar you will ever hear. That's a guarantee from somebody who knows what they're goddamn talking about. I'm a Dream Theater fan!
Initiating a hard blow on an enemy at any of this track's various crescendos is one hell of a thing to experience. Some of this game's best moments were so easily implanted into my brain.
It's barely audible, but that guitar gets super wankery around 14 and 51 seconds in. And I love it. Naming a more hype boss theme is pretty complicated. Naming a more hype RPG is even more complicated. I would love to see this game sell twice the amount of copies it did during it's prime. Like most other JRPG's, it has a slow start, but once it gets going it's incredibly hard to put down. Take it from me, the mustachioed strongman with the opinions about video games.
"Space Is Everything" - TxK
Oh bloody hell! YouTube doesn't have this? Well, it will eventually. It consumes all. Except decent Simpsons clips and sometimes more obscure music releases like this.
The Vita got it's most killer exclusive since Persona 4: Golden with TxK, a re-imagining of Tempest 2000 from the very man responsible. Which should sound awesome to anyone who's played even a few spare minutes of any Tempest iteration. It's one of my favorite retro titles, and TxK does it justice and then some.
The soundtrack is also pretty nifty. I can't help but murmur along to "Space.. is everything." as I'm staring, wide-eyed, down into my screen like I'm on some sort of transcendent high. I'm not even usually a fan of techno/dance tracks. I haven't been this enraptured with any track of it's kind since my last "Rhythm of the Night" binge. Ah, the 90's.
No game has given me quite as much pure happiness as Octodad: Dadliest Catch has given me. Even if only 60 to 70 percent of it's very short hour and a half to two hour length truly nails what makes the Octodad concept so great, it's first several levels along with it's several variants of the main theme are just that infectious.
There's definitely something to appreciate in a main hook sung that low and on point. Especially when it's about an inconspicuous octopus, posing as a human being.. and that nobody suspects a thing (except for the marine biologists, who know a fish when they see one). That's truly baffling.
"Axis Chemical Factory" - Batman NES
I tried so hard to think of some especially great soundtracks from way back when that weren't also Nintendo or Square IP's... or Castlevania (yeah, I was picky). Then I remembered Batman games before Arkham were a thing. I mean, I haven't actually played Batman for the NES, but I wagered it had some sweet music. I was right.
What would've been a pretty solid track otherwise is made all the better by it's hyperactive percussion and bass. It's impressive how much work composers put into music that would've likely become mere background noise for most players. Hell, that's still the case today, but it's especially interesting given the unconventional means of making music for the Atari/NES/SNES generations.
"Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)" - Stick It To The Man
For those who had viewed my original "25 video game tracks..." blog, you'll know I included a few choice licensed tracks. Not technically "video game tracks", but when they're as good as they sometimes are, it's hard not to feature them.
In fact, for a long time, this has been a Top 10 track for me. The simple genius of that "what condition my condition was in" hook, the backwards fades on that intro, the sick lickage layered in the background, it's a brilliant song. And how can you not picture this face along to it all? Unless you've never seen The Big Lebowski, in which case... you've lost me.
The fact that Stick It To The Man has this on repeat on it's start-up menu, with some pretty nice and strangely appropriate 2D on 3D animation going on in the background, has it up for best start-up menu of all time.
"The Crystal Spire" - Darksiders II
The Crystal Spire was around the time Darksiders II was starting to improve from it's lackluster middle sections. But, that was until after that Earth section, which was like Halo: CE's infamous Library level, only without any of the satisfying gunplay.
Yeah. You shoot things for about 45 minutes to an hour in Darksiders II.
Senses dulled, you would forgive me for not taking notice of this lovely track until just recently. It combines snappy synth strikes, hearts, piano, backing choruses, and more in a way I've never heard before. It's kind of fucking gorgeous, and I only wish I could clearly express my fondness for excellent orchestrated pieces beyond that. It's rare that they grab my attention like this.
It's that hard to choose a favorite from Mass Attack. I was about ready to just feature 10 of my favorite game soundtracks, one of them being Mass Attack. I feel sorry for just singling Night Desert out, but I did the best could. Check them ALL out, because you're ambitious like that.
Whereas Zelda's Kakariko Village sounded so much better with "proper" instrumentation, sometimes it works the other way around with more conventional tracks being compressed into works like Night Desert. All it's best bits stick out more, and there's quite a charm to hearing any sort of vocals in songs like this. Even if the quality is considerably worse.
"Shadow World" - Persona 4: Golden
Just like with the Mario tracks from last time, I'm featuring not one, not two... but THREE amazing tracks from within the Persona franchise!
Even though I haven't beaten even half of Persona 4 (to be fair, it's easily a 50+ hour experience), it's the JRPG I compare to all others. ATLUS really has an eye, ear and feel for quality. Persona 4: Golden hits it on all fronts, and I've never even once skipped the pre-game intro because of Shadow World. It's friendly, incredibly upbeat nature makes me smile everytime I hear it. My heart, swooned with joy.
Seriously. DAT HARMONICA. Anybody have one I can use to totally butcher those sick licks?
"Oh? You need a new theme tune for your re-release of Persona 4? After all that work on the original soundtrack? ... Hang on, I got dis." - Shoji Meguro
"Unbreakable Tie" - Persona 2: Innocent Sin
Don't think I've ever heard such a long post-chorus before a second verse.
Still, what an excellent mix of several styles of music. The chorus has a power metal thing going on, while the verses are something of a forgotten track off the original Sonic Adventure coupled with... hip-hop vocals (actually, this probably could've been one of Knuckles' tracks)? Sure! It's pretty hard to surprise me with music these days.
Anyway. Have you SEEN the accompanying animation for this track? It's a fantastic way to waste the next couple minutes. If only the actual game were up to par (though, I probably should give it a second chance).
"Master of Shadow" - Persona 3
Across both Persona 3 and 4, this is probably my favorite of the battle themes.
The intro always gets me, but the breakdown is what sells it as a whole. During battle, it's your moment of clarity before the intensity starts back up. I distinctly remember most of my decisions being made during those precious seconds. It's not always beating you in the face, and that's a welcome change of pace from most other boss tracks I've heard.
It took me long enough to warm up to Persona 3's soundtrack, as someone who first started with Persona 4: Golden. They're almost completely different, yet clearly of the same composer. God, I love this Shoji gentleman.
"Orphan Wolf Legend" - Asura's Wrath
Of course it hard to start with a pick slide! Cheesy guitar and Old Western whistle melodies. This song absolutely oozes charm. Somebody get me a shot of whiskey and a valiant steed of pure, glossed metal.
Far be it from me to expect anything less from such a (with all due respect) stupid game, but it was still so different from everything else on the soundtrack that it stuck with me and I had to look it up immediately after hearing it.
"Simian Acres" - Blast Corps
What other Rareware IP does this remind me of? Ack! It's at the tip of my tongue, but... oh, nevermind.
Speaking of which, why does nobody ever talk about Blast Corps when they talk about Rareware titles that need to make a comeback? I guess we've had our share of destruction-based titles since then, but despite it being one of the best-selling N64 games of all time and one of the highest-ranked games on Metacritic, nobody ever talks about it.
Listen to the music, and cry along with me.
"Radio Ga Ga" - Grand Theft Auto V
The second and last of the licensed tracks.
On the morning Rockstar was to release it's character trailers for GTAV, I was at the edge of my office chair hours in advance. Michael's was easily my favorite, as not only was it a nice surprise to hear more Queen from a GTA soundtrack, but it fit so well against the trailer's many edits. It was an exciting trailer, and I will always remember my first watch.
Nevermind the song itself. It's a fucking classic, thanks in no small part to Mercury's, as always, spirited, powerful vocals and that infectious as hell bassline.
"Threes is the Bee's Knees" - Threes
When you set out to create the only song you'll hear throughout the entirety of a game, you don't want it to stick out too much lest you annoy your player during longer sessions. You want it to bleed into the background.
In that way, this track succeeds. It's smooth and goes well with all that heavy thinking. But, you dig a bit deeper and you realize it's actually a pretty well-layered track. The accordion is a nice touch, those bass chords that pop up a couple times hit me right in my pleasure center, etc. There's a lot to get out of it during it's whopping 7 minutes of playtime.
Can you imagine another Mario Galaxy with music like this and those brilliant Wii U visuals? HNNNNNNNNNNNNG!
Jazz has always interested me, but never hooked me in enough to become someone that sought out jazz albums or anything like that. But, mixing in jazz with Mario melodies really brings out the fun and soul of your better modern Mario titles. Jazz is about raw expression and high spirits, which is very Mario. All warm and fuzzy, yet loud and exciting.
It's something I can't help but snap along to and that wind down towards the end into the climax gets me everytime. It's a beautiful rendition.
"25.3oN 91.7oE" - Risk of Rain
An uplifting track, to say the least. Euphoric, even. Quite odd, given Risk of Rain's extreme difficulty.
I could listen to it all day. Gets me in a very good mood. Makes me sigh, and then I'm at total peace. The synth and guitar work so incredibly well in tandem. Almost like they're dancing together in a deep blue space, infinite discovery awaiting them. Nothing to hold them back, except the limits of their curiosity. But, with so many wonders of the universe to see, how could they ever stop?
Personally, I've always loved 40's/50's/60's blues. The haughty guitar and soulful horn sections make me wish I had the yelping chops to sing along with it. But, it's still fun to falsetto your own stupid lyrics. Probably something about kissing a girl you really don't want to, but you end up falling for her anyway. Oh, no! I'm almost glad my teenage years are far behind me.
"Main Theme (Reprise)" - Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
If you want epic melodrama, look no further than this track.
"Epic" is, really, the best way to describe this one. This rendition of the main theme is at a much slower pace, but it's filled with plenty more subtlety and implied sense of scale with how much more each note rings out into the next. It's a much more interesting track, to me. How it builds up to the original's melody, playing those first couple notes several times to almost bring you up just to keep you on the edge of your seat.
When it finally hits, it's like sexual release.
"Lake Side" - Stunt Race FX
What a weird little game Stunt Race FX was.
It was one of the few SNES titles that featured fully-rendered 3D graphics. It also sported a fairly impressive physics engine (for it's time) that gave each vehicle a satisfying weight when gliding or turning. It also featured cars with eyeballs, not unlike those unnerving Chevron vehicles.
Really, it was a very primitive game. But, it was ambitious. It tried so hard to be cutting edge, and it succeeded in being a pretty fun game at worst. You can't hear this music or watch the gameplay and not smile. Seriously. I dare you to not smile.
"The Goddess and the Forest" - Deadly Premonition
It was very very hard to not include Life is Beautiful for obvious reasons. But, I love a good arpeggiated acoustic track, possibly even more than smooth acoustic jazz.
The vocals here are the standout element for me. The way they follow along to the instrumentation is very gentle and calm. Even with all that power behind each acoustic strike during that first bit, the vocals are just kinda cruising along. Clear as a crisp spring morning.
For so few songs that play during the entirety of your Deadly Premonition adventure, they at least made each one distinct, memorable, and of very high quality. Lord knows that budget didn't go into graphics or animation, ain't that right Zach?
"The Wretched Automatons" - Nier
Nier is, quite possibly, the most interesting game I have ever played. Combining Zelda with action/RPG combat, switching perspectives, bullet hell, random stat-altering weapon/magic attachment drops in the form of various syllables, and so much more.
I was glad that people had not been hyping up the soundtrack for nothing. It's fucking great.
I love this track so goddamn much. The beautiful female vocals, with such an interesting melody, along with that dark talkbox-like effect that never seems to let up and the metal clanks of the percussion? It's captivating, and easily amongst my favorite video game tracks of all time.
"The Wonderful Star's Walk is Wonderful" - Katamari Damacy
I've always been fascinated with how much an artist can do with a single underlying composition or melody.
Throughout the entirety of this track, it keeps building on top of that first acoustic bit. Bringing in horns, bubble pops, synth, frantic distortion, various percussion effects, eventually breaking into that quirky fanfare section a couple times, etc. It's an odd, though very awesome track.
I can never get enough of it. I feel I notice something new about it everytime I listen!
"Balance Slays the Demon" - Alan Wake's American Nightmare
Like The Poet and the Muse before it, Balance Slays the Demon held a significance to American Nightmare's story. Less so, given that no character directly references it's relation to the story, but... well, it's easier for you to just play the game(s) to understand.
Poets of the Fall, the real band behind The Old Gods of Asgard, totally channels Ozzy with this one. Heavy-hitting, cheesy, awesome, and metal as fuck. It blew me away on my first listen, me literally shouting "That was fucking awesome!!!" as I walked Wake's avatar off to more important things like saving the day and stuff.
Why didn't Wake just bring a Walkman or something? I had to awkwardly shamble over to the radio several times before finally hearing what I wanted to hear. Jeez.
He was a member of a community, rallying around a site called Destructoid. His Destructoid username was SeymourDuncan17.
SeymourDuncan17's pastime around Destructoid was conversing in the front page comments, occasionally breaking off into the site's subsections and even sometimes having a go at writing his very own blogs. His latest blog, he thought, would be about video game music! It would be quite the effort, but he figured it was a great excuse to gush his totally viable and sizably-educated opinions.
So, every so often, at his desk, he'd think of songs to include and in what ways he could talk about them. His potential audience was massive, but he knew, deep down, many wouldn't care to actually read whatever he would write, and it, no doubt, would be quickly forgotten by those that did. But, he insisted on continuing, pretending he was important like so many other introverted attention-seekers.
He'd type away, each stroke as dull as the last. But, in a way, Seymour was... happy. He figured things could be worse. Much worse. A day living, and healthy, is a day successful.
But then, one day, Seymour hit a block. He stared into his notebook screen, and not a single word had been typed for his most recent entry. He was perplexed that, even though he very much enjoyed this track, he couldn't quite articulate why. 'Why is it so good?', he'd ask. The words were floating about somewhere in his head, but they were blurry and shambled about in a nonsensical manner.
Dumbfounded, and having not moved a single muscle for several minutes, he finally came to a solution! He would playfully riff off of Stanley Parable's intro scene, where the music for this entry had been featured. Words then flowed like hot steam from a busted pipe, and by the time he was finished, he was satisfied and almost proud of his work. 'It all sort of came together, didn't it?', he said with a half-smile.
Seymour then stood up from his chair, walked out of his room, and took a leak.
WELL. Months of work, finally put to rest and out there for people to read. I may continue doing blogs like this, but probably not for a long while. It's a hellova lot of words to keep up with, at the least.
Give me some more music to listen to, and tell me I did a good job you asshole!