Tuesday, 10 April 2012

My soft spot for Video Game music

If there's one thing I enjoy about gaming, it's the music I sometimes bump into. There's nothing quite like playing a game and then hear a tune that just makes you smile or bop your head to the beat. Whether that's One Winged Angel kicking in at the final section of Final Fantasy 7, or the boss theme from Xenoblade Chronicles. The very calm, soothing sounds from Journey's story sections, or the up-tempo beats from Child of Eden. I can get more into a game if the soundtrack is right. I also like collecting the ones I really love. It's one of the reasons that I will always look for a soundtrack of some kind when buying collector's editions of games. How did this all start though?

Quite predictably for me, it started with Final Fantasy 7. Some fantastic music just bringing a brilliant RPG to life. The physical soundtrack cost around £45 from Forbidden Planet back when I was young. A bit too much for me at the time. A while afterwards, I recall getting hold of the ending theme for Ico from the official Ico website (I think that was just pure luck!)

In fact, the PS2 in general was a great time for music in games (at least for me). I had great fun with Gitaroo Man. There's not much I can do when I have to fight off a musical UFO or a trio of skeletons doing a Mexican number on me. As well as Ico, there was Shadow of the Colossus's moving themes in each battle, building up to a climax as you start to get the better of your foe. I can't forget Okami in the mix either. A beautiful game matched with a fantastic soundtrack which gave the game a more Japanese feel. The final boss theme in particular was a particular highlight. The ending theme was enough to make me buy the artist's actual album (though I was heavily into finding Japanese music by that point)

Then there's Persona 3 and Persona 4. Similar but modern soundtracks that matched the game's background. Square-Enix deserve praise for putting Persona 4's main soundtrack in with the game (all dungeon and battle music). While we're on the subject of modern sounds, there's also The World Ends With You from the DS, which packed a very modern and great soundtrack at all stages of the game. Dissidia: Final Fantasy and it's sequel (both on PSP) obviously packed the classic Final Fantasy tunes from every single game except FFXIV. Lots to choose from - even if you only use it as a backdrop for a one minute fight...

Coming into the modern generation, Xenoblade Chronicles stands out as one of the best soundtracks I've heard. Battle themes, town themes, story themes, all easy to listen to and keeps you going as you explore the vast plains and swamps (amongst other areas). Then you have Flower and Journey. Both short games but making use of the music to set a mellow atmosphere to relax you into their worlds.

Finally, this brings me up to Child of Eden. The whole game is music based as you score points based on how well you can fire lasers to the beat of the music. Just as well that the music was good enough to make me hunt for a dedicated soundtrack for that as well. Except that there isn't one. I did persevere though and found that Genki Rockets created some of the pieces of the music in the game. I bought both of their albums recently and they've barely left me since!

In short, I love video game music...

(Oh and I did eventually get the FF7 soundtrack - thanks to the Distant Worlds concert in London...)


Final Fantasy 7 - One Winged Angel
Ico - You Were There
Gitaroo Man - Flyin' To Your Heart (English In-game version)
Okami - Rising Sun
Persona 3 - Mass Destruction (Battle music)
Persona 4 - Reach out to the Truth (Battle music)
The World Ends With You - Twister
Xenoblade Chronicles - Gaur Plains
Flower - Sailing on the Wind
Journey - Apotheosis
Genki Rockets - Fly! (sampled in the final stages of the first level in Child of Eden)

Monday, 9 April 2012

What I've been playing - Since the last time - number 2...

Here we go again...


Trine 2, Journey, The Sly Trilogy and Elevator Action Deluxe (or as someone said via PSN, what the hell is that?). Oh, and I won Trails in the Sky from Ghostlight (thanks guys!). I'm yet to play it but expect my views once I get to play it...

Elevator Action Deluxe

Probably counts as one of those retro games that no-one's heard of (I certainly hadn't heard of it until recently). The game revolves around trying to gather secret documents, hidden within the doors of each building while guards try to shoot you, blow you up or fire rocket launchers at you with no regard for their own safety. Part of the game involves stealthily hiding in doors and slamming them into your enemies faces and other parts involve jumping deftly to avoid gunshots while rocket shots are shot above your head.

The game really came into it's own when I played the game with my sister, trying to beat the game together. Hilarity ensued as our jumping ability (or lack of it) and various other failures (including getting squashed by the token elevator and rocket launching our partner in the back/face) resulted in the most laughs we'd had for a long time. If this has interested you, PSN Europe has this on sale for £4 until Wednesday. Have a go at the demo and decide for yourself. Be warned that there's no online multiplayer.


The final Sony exclusive game from thatgamecompany (who created fl0w and Flower) has been anticipated for ages and it certainly hasn't disappointed in the reviews department, with a metacritic score over 90 and becoming the fastest selling PSN title to date. The game is exceptionally short but an absolute beauty in terms of the environment and the ambient music in the background.

Going into the game fresh and completing it in one go is the best way to go about it. The reason for this is the unique multiplayer aspect of the game where you can find a partner in the game, but you won't know who it is. There's no way of communicating with each other and all you can do is either follow each other through the landscape or just go your separate ways.

Despite only playing the game once, the game was a fantastic experience and one that I'd recommend to everyone who asks. Probably the only regret I have is leaving the game right at the end when real-life took over. I lost sight of my playing partner and it's not a nice feeling to have when you played through the majority of the game with them...

Trine 2

Here's a fact. Trine was the first and only platinum trophy I achieved until I got my Everybody's Golf Vita trophy a few weeks ago. Trine was a fantastic puzzle platformer where you control 3 different characters through some great scenery to (obviously) save the world. I loved the original so much that the sequel had to be brilliant to beat it.

Sadly, something about Trine 2 just holds it back. Normally, I wouldn't (and really shouldn't) care much about trophies but when I look in the trophy list, my heart did sink a little bit. Where's the trophy for completing the game? Where's the trophy for finding all those green experience bottles? Essentially, gold trophies are handed out like sweets on Hallowe'en and you don't need to complete the game to achieve the platinum trophy. What incentive is there for me to do everything?

Still, I hunt on for the experience bottles and look around the worlds (I'm about half-way through now). I'm also finding the puzzles a lot harder to navigate through and I've been in levels for a long time trying to figure out where to go next. Trine 2 is still a good game and some of the levels are fantastic.

Cladun X2

It's the post-launch lull in Vita world so I started working on my PSP backlog. I managed to complete the story in this complex dungeon crawler (well, sort of) but I'm stopping short on conquering the 99 floor random dungeon because I just don't have enough time or patience to get there.

Other News
Too much to remember but there might be a bit of juicy gossip tomorrow after the embargo expires on Capcom's Captivate event. Also, the PS4/XBox 720 rumours are getting annoying. The latest rumour I heard was that both consoles will run hot enough to cook bacon in the disc tray (assuming they have a disc tray)