Games

Game Music Revue: Rez Infinite (iam8bit Edition)

  • Credited Composer: Various Artists
  • Released February 15, 2017
  • Label: Nippon Columbia
  • VGMdb Information Page

The Rez soundtrack is the dopest shit.

It’s the soundtrack to the future, if your present is the mid-90s. It’s what you listen to when you’re in The Matrix. What you put on your headphones if your Angelina Jolie in Hackers. It’s the top 40 radio of the Ghost In The Shell universe. Continue reading

Game Music Revue: The Legend of Zelda 30th Anniversary Concert

  • Credited Composer: Koji Kondo with additional artists
  • Released February 15, 2017
  • Label: Nippon Columbia
  • VGMdb Information Page: Deluxe Edition, Standard Edition

 

Last year, to commemorate the 30th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda, Nintendo held a short concert series featuring orchestral arrangements of Zelda tunes performed by the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra. Now, less than six months later, the concerts have made their way to CD, and in a swank deluxe edition to boot. Continue reading

Game Music Revue: Toy Music – Dancing Super Mario Brothers

  • Credited Performer: Akihabara Electric Circus
  • Released September 15, 1988
  • Label: Eastworld/Toshiba
  • VGMdb Information Page

In 1988 a group by the name of Akiharbara Electric Circus released two arranged game music albums. One featured nothing but reworked version of music from Super Mario Bros. 3. It’s a weird record.

The other is this, Toy Music: Dancing Super Mario Bros.

It’s fucking batshit. Continue reading

Game Music Revue: Ghost In The Shell Megatech Body Co. Ltd (Playstation Game Soundtrack)

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For all its acclaim as an anime action epic, the original Ghost In The Shell film is actually a pretty quiet affair, peppered with only a scant few minutes of solid action. The majority of the film is a drama, that alternates between police procedural and meditative discussions on technology and what it means to be alive in a world where humanity and machine seem to be one in the same. The whole thing climaxes not with a giant battle, but with a conversation between a robot and a cyborg, discussing if life has a point without mortality.

Accompanying all of this is a legendary score by Kenji Kawai, which combines modern technology and traditional Japanese instrumentation with an end result that resembles something that Philip Glass or Dead Can Dance might compose. Just like the film itself, the score to Ghost In The Shell is haunting and beautiful, a work of art that is nearly unrivaled.

Got all that? Good. Because the Ghost In The Shell game that appeared on the PS1 is a third-person shooter where you take control of a tank and blow shit up real good. And the soundtrack is non-stop pulse-pounding techno, all of which has the subtlety and nuance of a jackhammer. Continue reading

Trials Of The Blood Dragon Review (And Narrative Analysis)

 

When a game is announced at the giant gaming convention known as E3, its release date is usually months, if not years away. But Ubisoft bucked the trend this year with Trials Of The Blood Dragon, which was announced at the press conference last week and then immediately released following its conclusion.

An odd release strategy for sure, but it is by far not the oddest thing about the game, a strange amalgamation of the Far Cry: Blood Dragon franchise and the long-running and extremely popular Trials motorbike game series. By taking the VHS B-movie aesthetic of the Blood Dragon universe and combining it with the always off-kilter Trials sense of humor and style, the creators of Trials Of The Blood Dragon have made an interesting thing, even if it whole doesn’t match the sum of its parts.

Oh, and also the game might just be a stark social commentary and allegory for America’s war on terror, criticizing how the media twists the will of the people to fit the machinations of an evil and uncaring military-industrial complex.

Or maybe that’s just me seeing that. But we’ll get there. Continue reading

Gaming is a Garbage Fire

I’m a regular visitor of the gaming website Giant Bomb, and usually dedicate four plus hours a week of my time listening to their various gaming podcasts. Not only are they frequently some of the funniest podcasts on the internet, but they’re usually a great place to get information on new games. These days they’re more or less my exclusive source for gaming news.

A few weeks ago on the Giant Beastcast (the East Coast crew’s podcast) host Vinny Caravella went on a bit of an uptempo tangent, professing that this was the greatest time to be a gamer. Not only did we have new technology like VR coming down the pike, but the sheer girth of games, from big-budget AAA action spectacles to indie point-and-click adventure games, assured that everyone, no matter what their tastes, could find something they liked.

And to a certain extent, I definitely think he’s right. Games are better than ever! There’s more variety than ever before, and at more price points. Speaking strictly in terms of consumer value and customer choice, it’s the greatest time ever to be into video games.

Speaking from just about every other avenue imaginable though, it’s a complete disaster. From top to down, gaming is screwed. It’s so screwed that, to paraphrase Roseanne, the light from screwed would take a million years to reach it. And no matter where you look, from the fans to the developers to the games themselves, things are bleak. Continue reading

Game Music Revue: 8-Bit Music Power

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So this is a weird thing. Continue reading

The Witness Review: A Witness to Disaster

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I feel that over the years I’ve gradually slid out of step with the mainstream when it comes to games. Whenever I glance over at “Best Of” lists at various gaming sites, I inevitably find a list of games that I either have no interest in playing or have played and didn’t like.

For example, I absolutely abhorred The Last Of Us. Bad controls, horrible story that’s been told a billion times over. Fallout? Hate it. Buggy mess. Ditto for The Elder Scrolls games (a Bethesda logo is a kiss of death to me). The original Dragon Age? Ugly, shitty characters, couldn’t make it for more than a few hours. The Batman Arkham games? Pretty vacant, with repetitive (and unresponsive) combat coupled with the pathetically heavy-handed writing. Dark Souls, Metal Gear (any of them), Undertale, The Witcher, The Walking Dead, I either hated them or couldn’t even be bothered to start them because they looked so boring, derivative or just not something I’d be into.

My point is that I am more than used to not being in jive with the critical consensus, and with rare exception I caulk it up to being an outlier. I hate a lot of popular games, but I realize that in many cases the issue is with me, not the game.

That being said, even I was surprised by the gulf between the critical consensus of and my personal views on The Witness, a game that many critics are lauding as one of the greatest of all time, and a game that I feel is a worthless exploration into just how little a game developer can care about his audience. Continue reading

Game Music Revue: Streets Of Rage (2015 Data Discs Edition)

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A few years ago Death Waltz Records opened up shop and promptly took the the record geek community by storm with its high quality vinyl re-issues of classic horror soundtracks, presented with heavy duty sleeves and pressed on creatively-colored vinyl.

Since then, we seemingly become lousy with labels looking to cash in on this sudden re-issue trend. Some, like One Way Static and Invada, have done good by releasing quality soundtracks that sound great and feature amazing art. Others, like the atrocious Waxworks and the flipper-friendly Mondo (who bought Death Waltz rather than compete with them) have often sacrificed audio quality and consumer friendliness in efforts to put out ultra-limited edition items that not only sound horrid, but become impossible to find thanks to their finitely small print runs.

So I was a little skeptical at first when I found out about Data Discs, a new label dedicated to releasing classic game music on vinyl. With the vinyl craze continuing to reach new heights, I feared they were just in it for the money, hoping to snag a quick buck off of hipsters who put presentation and nostalgia over actual audio quality. Still, when I saw that they were releasing the soundtrack to Streets of Rage on vinyl, I had to take the bait and grab a copy.

I was hoping for the best and fearing for the worst – but thankfully I was pleasantly surprised. Continue reading

Game Music Revue: The 30th Anniversary Super Mario Bros. Music

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  • Credited Composer: Nintendo (Koji Kondo, Hirokazu Tanaka, Kazumi Totaka, Shinobu Tanaka, Mahito Yokota, Ryo Nagamatsu, Asuka Hayazaki)
  • Released September 13, 2015
  • Label: Columbia/Sony
  • VGMdb Information Page

Continue reading

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