Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Legend of Zelda Orchestra announces new project.

Do-do-DO! do-do-DO! Dooo-dodododo-do-dooo!

The Zelda 25th Anniversary is about to evolve into something to keep going as the franchise turns to the less impressive age of 26. Dubbed the "The Legend of Zelda: The Symphony of the Goddesses," it looks like the orchestra focused on one of gaming's biggest franchises is going to start spreading out to different parts of the world, starting in Dallas, TX on January 10th.

Tickets are on sale now through November 30th for the show, ranging anywhere from $19 to $100.

All the fine details for Nintendo's Press Release can be found here.

It was the Song of Storms, by the way.

-Make it a good one.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Game Music Appreciation: Wario Land: Shake It!

Shake it, shake-shake, shake it! Shake it like a Polaroid picture!

Wario Land: Shake It is a game that went mostly under the radar, which is unfortunate for anybody that likes good games. Developed by Good Feel, who recently did Kirby's Epic Yarn, this game features hand-drawn visuals, unique puzzle-platforming, and (the subject of this post) a brilliant score. Unfortunately, as I get about 1 hit a month on my blog (thanks, Mom), this trend of overlooking Wario Land will continue. But that won't deter me!

Stonecarving City is the first big level you get set loose on your money-grabbing adventure, and it sets a great tone. A low key, funky beat with one of Wario's familiar tunes gets you started, and it eventually evolves into a giant, all-out celebration. Have a listen.

On the theme of stones, is Stonetooth Cave. Another jazzy groove, this time adding some synthesized guitars, this track makes it nearly impossible to bounce too. It might sound a little cheesy, but that's the sort of Wario aesthetic that comes through in this game. And if Good Feel has a good grip on anything in games, it's audio-visual aesthetics.

If there's one thing I'm getting tired of in video games, it's desert levels having the same twangy middle-east vibe. We get it. It's a desert. Let's move on. Well Whoopsy Desert does a fine job of skirting that stereotype just enough to still be on the same page, but throws in a low, quick electronic beat and some swanky guitar chords to help keep it from sounding as dry as the levels look.

Touching back on the Wario Tune used for Stonecarving City, we visit Launchpad Labyrinth for a superbly salsa-fied mix. The latin flavor is like like a carne guisada of the heavens.

Using the same sound that would eventually go on to frame a lot of what Kirby's Epic Yarn would use to melt your pleasure-center into a gelatinous mound of happy, Gurgle Gulch is a wonderful piano-based tune that just feels fun.

Perhaps the most bullshit boss in the game, the infuriating Large Fry Cook was a controller-snapping experience like no other. It wasn't so much cheap: He has a very distinct pattern. But like so many Mega Man bosses of old, it's there's a narrow path to victory. His music, however, is a fast-paced jazz beat that helped balance out his enraging mechanics.

Soggybog River is a great little ditty with a deep baseline and droning melody that reminds me of something from a Sonic level. The overly-synethic construction of the song just hits me in a nostalgia zone.

I hope you've enjoyed our trek through some of the music of Wario Land: Shake it. There's so much more out there, with over 40 songs (not including the incidental stuff) to sit through. It's an audio journey that I really hope you'll take, even if you never sit down to play the brilliant platformer it came from.

What think you of this soundtrack? Have your eyes and ears been opened to a brand new sound? Am I preaching to a choir that knows good tunes? Which is your favorite? I am desperate to know!

This has been another Game Music Appreciation blog with Randy. Please. Tell your friends.

-Make it a good one.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Two Tribes totally teases Toki Tori Two.


Just posted on their official Steam pages and YouTube page, developer Two Tribes has announced that they are making a follow up to personal favorite Toki Tori 2.

Not much is known at this time, although the teaser trailer hints at some new locals and power-ups, including one that totally buffs out the strangely tech-savvy chicken protagonist from the first game.

Also announced is that they will be accepting help from the community to make this game better than ever. Details have been released on Two Tribes' website.

If you haven't checked out the original, or any other of Two Tribes' games, head on down to their Steam page and check them out. Their games ooze with visual charm, musical magic, and that simple-but-addictive gameplay that makes them hard to put down.

How excited are you for this new title? Sound off below!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Ocarina of Time: then and now.

Making it feel right

   13 years ago, exactly half as old as I am now, Ocarina of Time was released on the Nintendo 64. While it may not be my personal favorite game, it was an important game, especially then. It was a big deal. And while I'm getting through the newest remake on 3DS, I'm remembering some of the other things in my life that were going on, and what all I'm bringing together to try and recreate the glory days of my youth.

This is how you remember it looking.

   When Ocarina was originally released, I was living in Wichita Falls, Texas. These days I'm in Austin Texas, a few hours south. And while I've actually spent the majority of those 13 years in Michigan, it feels right that I'm back in the south to replay a timeless classic.

   The music. Yeah, the music of Ocarina of Time is classic, but during that time I had another favorite album. Yeah, laugh at me all you want, but the soundtrack of Austin Powers was almost always in my CD player. I still do love that album, and I've pulled it out of storage (where CD's now go to die, just like cassette's before them) to relive some of the atmosphere.

   Having friends to play with is another thing that cements me to the past. More than the game itself, everybody talking about it and their experiences is what made this such an important title for me. It's lucky, then, that I have an amazing boyfriend as well as a workplace full of nerds, so that we can all talk about it again.
This is how it actually looked. An improvement? I think so.

   There are, however, some things I just can't recreate to put me back in 1998. For one, I'm not going back to America Online. I'm just not. Another thing? I'm not 13 anymore. I'm 26. I drive, vote, drink, and I make my own paychecks. So I don't quite have that youthful spark anymore. Oh and one more item: it was winter when I got the game. A step outside to the gas station tells me that it is anything but Winter right now in Austin, Texas.

   That's my little anecdote about Ocarina of Time as I plunge into the newest release of it. What of yours, readers? Where were you in your life when you first played it? Is the 3DS version perhaps your first? I would love to know more!

Until then, make it a good one!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Of PC and Console - The PC Overshadoweth.

Up until a year ago, I wasn't much of a PC gamer. And three years ago, it was only City of Heroes, Team Fortress 2, and struggling through Left 4 Dead. I mean clawing my way through these games. Not to say these were bad games, far from it. The frustration I endured through playing them on my piece of crap Acer was overwhelming, though. Back then I would turn to my 360 as this powerhouse and bastion of great gaming. Mass Effect, Fable 2, Fallout 3... Things my computer would collapse in on itself if it tried to run, my 360 made possible; and better.

That's not true anymore.

Yeah, mate. We're in space.

I now find myself with a system pushing World of Warcraft, Team Fortress 2, and Portal 2 at 60 frames per succulent second. All the bloom lighting evaporating my eyes with beauty, the textures crisp as apple pie in October, and the particle effects. My god, the particle effects.

At this point, it's hard to find myself getting Portal 2 for the 360. Why should I, aside from the fact that I already own it? If I get into a game, I can kind of b e crazy. I'll buy it every chance I get. (Peggle: 3 times. Plants vs. Zombies: 3 times. Portal: 3 times. And let's not count the fact that if Nintendo remakes it, I will come). But that tide is quickly receding, and I don't know if I'm going with the flow or not.

I'm addicted to Mass Effect, which is in itself an entirely different story. In the past two months I have cleared through both the first and the second, making that the 3rd time I've completed Mass Effect 2 this year alone. I have a problem, but again that's a different story. Suffice to say I have made some Shepards, and I've decided the fate on some galaxies. At this point, wanting to continue life as Shepard in Mass Effect 3 is a given. But. I don't know if I can. Why? Because I played Mass Effect on the PC, and the difference is like playing a new game.

The original Mass Effect was a shoddy train-wreck of a technical disaster on the 360. Cutscenes dropped entire chunks of frames, textures would pop in literally 10 seconds after you've started moving around. Combat was impossible to follow due to the slowdown. I still loved it, despite it's technical failures, but the PC version (purchased on steam for 5 fucking dollars) is perfect. There is no flaw. It is 60 frames per second, bloom lighting, etc. etc. I think somebody muddled with it because it looks technically more advanced than it should, but in any case it's better, and so is Mass Effect 2.

So why play this on 360 if I have a clearly superior version? I've invested hundreds of hours into this series already on 360, so I'll likely finish it there. As I do, though, I'll be left wondering. Wondering why I'm not playing it on the PC. Wondering if these achievements really mean anything to me anymore. As I watch whatever fantastic final moments play out (likely planning how I will differ my actions in the subsequent 4 playthrough's), each time I will ask how much better it must look on PC. Then, some time later, it'll be on Steam on sale for $10. Then I'll get it, and punch myself for the time not spent playing it here from the beginning.

This isn't a PC vs. Console argument per se. There's still a ton of reasons for consoles to exist, and honestly I still like them more.. for the most part... But I do question whether or not it's time for new consoles to start coming down the pipeline. Mass Effect 3 could be so much more, and I want it to reach that potential, while enjoying the convenience and comfort of my console home. If I could transfer my Shep's over, I probably would. As it stands, I am creating new ones (never did try that tech class!) so we'll see how that goes.

If you haven't played Mass Effect before, and you're in possession of a beefy enough computer, I say go for it on PC. If not, please still play it on 360. It's an amazing series and well worth your investment

So where do you stand on PC's versus Consoles? Do you have games that you prefer on one or the other? I would love to hear back from you. Both of you.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Most Difficult Puzzle

"Layton's Apprentice Strikes Again"

The Professor's arm trembles under the weight of the job to be done, compounded by the weight of the weapon he carries. The barrel of the high-caliber rifle rests on the windowsill, Layton's trembling hand struggling to steady its aim.

"Every puzzle has a solution."

That was before the puzzle was Luke.

Growing up Luke was always a bit different. He had an unusual kind of inferiority complex that always flared up at the slightest provocation. And let us not even get started on the part about conversing with fauna. Layton had always thought it charming; the untainted aspects of a proud youth, still wrapped in his world of childish wonder. Never had Layton suspected, or at least allowed himself to believe, that those tendencies would only worsen, leading Luke down a dark path.

Luke reached the age of 16 when he took his first life. While trying to solve a mystery concerning a car bomb that meant to assassinate a visiting diplomat from the States, yet left no body, Layton and Luke thought it best to split up to investigate. Luke ended up down a series of alleys in a seedier part of town, and was eventually propositioned by a lady of the evening. Luke, being young, was able to feign an innocent curiosity; the same he had been feigning for the professor for a years. When the lady offered to take him around the back, Luke nodded. She took his hand in her own and guided him, not noticing that his other gripped a stray beer bottle out of a garbage can as she did.

They began to kiss. Then he struck. Repeated blows to the head left their imprint in her skull and her body on the ground. Luke panted heavily, wiping the sweat from his brow. The job was done. His years of puzzle solving came in handy when it came to hiding the evidence.

All of that was two years ago, and officially the murder was never solved.

Layton didn't suspect Luke until the 3rd victim was found. He never had proof, but his keen intuition was starting to kick in. His ability to place things together that most people wouldn't catch was unmatched; except, as it turns out, by his denial. Never being able to find solid proof, and never wanting to believe it true, Layton continued investigating the murders. It wasn't until the most recent one that Luke slipped up. A splash of red on his otherwise pristine blue outfit, explained away as berry jam from tea time, but unmistakable to a seasoned sleuth like Layton. When they found the body two blocks away, he was positive.

Now the Professor stands in a the 3rd story room of a rundown hotel, watching Luke through the sight of his weapon. Luke is speaking to another woman. She smiles at him, swaying in a gentle, seductive manner. He takes her by the hand.

"You have to do this, Layton," he mutters to himself. "A true gentleman cannot allow this monster to live." He began to imagine the headlines.

"Professor Layton trains to murder?!"

"Layton's apprentice strikes again!"

"Questionable relationships raised murderer!"

He could not let that stand. Whether it was his own reputation, or to save lives, Layton would have to argue later why he really did it. First, it must be done. He lines up his shot, just below Luke's blue hat.

Everything is accounted for. The current wind velocity, the lady's position (to minimize risk of harming her), and even the shaky aim. To compensate, Layton takes in a deep breath, his finger squeezing on the trigger.

"Every puzzle..." echoes in his mind just before squeezing the trigger. He let's out a deep sigh.

"... has a solution."

From the Writer: Thank you for taking the time to read this. I want to do more pieces like this in the future; little short fictions based on my crazy and wild interpretations on the video games I love. More of these will likely be coming down the line. How was it? Do you have any constructive feedback to leave? I'd love to hear it. Again, thanks for reading.

-Make it a good one.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Three Dee Ess has Landed

I'm going to keep this one simple and sweet. I've spent a lot of time with my 3DS so far, and in short, it's pretty awesome. The built in software is great, the 3D looks way better than I thought it was going to, and even in 2D the games are looking pretty solid.

The software lineup isn't stellar, but it's doing me well so far. Street Fighter is pretty fun, and I'm really digging Pilotwings. People are criticising teh lineup alot, and while I agree it's not the greatest immediate batch of games, it's probably one of the better launches for a console. Way better than the original DS line up was.

I have some complaints about the 3ds, and it's mostly the finish. It's way to attracted to fingerprints, which makes it subject to looking kinda grody after a while. Also, and this one is more for me personally, I've been spending a lot of time with the DSi XL, so the small screens are getting used to. I say small, but they're comparable to the DSLite screens, only wider at top.

So that's it in a nutshell. Obviously you're the only one who can decide whether you think it's worth it or not. That's just my two copper on the whole thing.

And here's my friend code: 5412 - 9891 - 9098

Feel free to leave yours down in the comments.

Make it a good one.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Still Catching 'em All

Pokemons Black and White come out in less than 12 hours, and now seemed like as good a time as any to chronicle my love of Pokemon, and explain what the series means to me.

On the surface, it's quite simple. I was the target demographic when that game came out. It's an excellent series with hidden depth and approachability that make it enjoyable on a multitude of levels. You could just be here for a playthrough; catching a few pokemons, earning your badges, and becoming the champion. Or you could go even further, learning high-level math to help breed an unstoppable team of wrecking machines to take into some outrageous PVP. Also? Those Pokemon be cute as fuck, brah. Every kind of player can come to this series and get something out of it.

It was for the Christmas of 1999 that I received my Lime Green GameBoy Color and the Pokemons Red and Yellow. It was only a couple short months after moving from Texas to Michigan, so I had lost a good stable of friends. Relatively common, given my role as a child of somebody serving in the Airforce, but depressing all the same. We were staying with my grandmother, so I didn't really have my own room, just a borrowed one. None of my toys (yeah, I still had toys, what of it), my Nintendo 64, or my movies were there. It was that GameBoy and those little monsters that kept me company during those times. So few things then were mine, but those Pokemon and I were together. I played that game alot, and I've been playing it a lot ever since.

Silver still holds strong as one of my favorite games, though. With Pokemon Silver, the friends I had made while living in Michigan and myself had a game to talk about. It was something we all played and shared at the time, and no other game was quite like it. In fact no game really is to this day. But that social environment surrounding Pokemon stayed with me as much as the game did.

Here I am literally 10 years later, and it's about to happen again. I no longer live in Michigan, having moved to Austin to be with the man I love. I have a job where I have made a considerable number of nerdy friends, and guess what. A lot of them like Pokemon, and are just as crazy as I am. At least 4 of us will be picking it up and hanging out tomorrow, talking about what's new and (ideally) taking this crazy new journey together. It's a great time, since the game has this big "it's all starting over" vibe going on. Arguably, my life has changed significantly as well, so it's nice to have Pokemon along with me. And while I'm a great deal excited for a lot of things on the horizon (*cough3ds*cough*), none of them, I think, will be hitting the level of a shared experience that Pokemons Black and White will be.

I'm as excited as I was 11 years ago when I first opened up that Christmas present, and for that I could not be more grateful to Sugimori-san and his team at GAMEfreak. As long as I'm breathing, I'll still be collecting 'em all.

What about you, readers? have you any stories of Pokemon you wish to share? Feel free to drop a comment below.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Nintendo World - 3DS Summit in Japan

   To say that I'm excited about the 3DS, Nintendo's successor to perhaps my favorite gaming device, would be an understatement. So in that vain, I have been gorging on the Ustream coming out of Japan. There's a lot of neat stuff, including what appears to be face recognition Mii Creation.

   Details on the 3DS are all well and fine. You'll probably read more comprehensive takes on them all over the net, but that's not what I wanted to talk to you about. Video game music is super important to me, and the live stream of Nintendo's event has presented with me a unique experience that I needed to share with you.

   Nintendo hired a professional band to perform some video game music on stage, and the results are amazing. I've found a Youtube video so you wouldn't have to navigate Japanese text to find the video. I know you're all fluent in multiple languages, including those of the East, but I thought I would save you a few page clicks all the same. I love you that much.

    Fucking brilliant. What was your favorite song out of there? I'm quite partial to the Donkey Kong Country and Animal Crossing pieces myself. But it was all good. I would buy this album twice. Thanks for taking time out of your weekend to spend with me. I look forward to presenting some discussion about level creation in Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem soon, so stay tuned.

-Make it a good one.