Friday, June 22, 2018

Completely Unnecessary E3 2018 Wrap Up That You Don't Really Need To Pay Attention To: Special 2018 Edition

The Logo That Never Gets Old! Special 2016 Edition Maybe

So E3 happened, and while I tried to pay as much attention as a full time employee is able to afford themselves, I was really only able to watch Bethesda's pre-E3 presentation on that one Sunday night.  The rest of everything I caught up on four weeks after E3 was over. . .or something close to that; you get the idea.

So in the vein of previous E3 articles that we have featured on our sliver of the gaming rambling portion of the Internet, I am going to continue with listing and briefly talking about games that managed to peak my interest over the last week.  And these are games that I had no prior knowledge of before this last week, so games like Dark Souls: Remastered for the Switch (which I have already pre-ordered), Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (because I have no interest in the franchise), or FIFA 19 (because I like to keep my sports games simple), I will not be mentioning.  Again.  I am going to stick to the previously unknown to me.

And this is by no means an exhaustive list as I do not really have that much time, so if I have forgotten about your favorite game, franchise, character, or DLC, leave a note down below in the comments and I will look it up.

So, without further ado, here is an alphabetical list:

I was completely unaware of this game, in either its board game or video game form.  And while my paranoia about playing board games against a computer is fairly well documented, I feel like after watching the trailer, I am more apt to pick up the physical board game.

Cyberpunk 2077
It is kind of odd that I feel semi-obligated to put this game on here having only played one game by CD Projekt Red, but I guess that is how a studio gets their hooks in you.  With one really good game.

DOOM Eternal
I loved DOOM on the Switch, and previous entries in the DOOM series, so this should make a lot of sense.  And because of the success of the revamped DOOM, I am not surprised that this looks similar to DOOM II's take on demons of Hell have invaded/attacked Earth.  Also more Mick Gordon music is a good thing.

I really was not expecting any announcements for The Elder Scrolls, so when Blades was announced for both mobile devices and consoles (coming later apparently), I was pretty excited.  Now, I am probably not going to be playing this on my phone as I am not a fan of touch controls on mobile devices in the way that they show here (although if it is as engaging as Dead Space: MobileI may just have to), the fact that they said it is also coming to consoles (which hopefully means the Switch) is an added bonus.  At least as far as I am concerned.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Very Special Edition
This was a pretty hilarious part of Bethesda's presentation and I really appreciated that they were able to laugh at the public's semi-ridiculing of their porting Skyrim to as many devices as it is currently playable on (currently nine I believe).  Then on Monday, I thought it would give it a try on our Echo Dot (thanks again Shramp), and lo and behold, it is a real thing, although it does not have the level of actions that are present in the trailer.  It is still pretty fun, albeit repetitive, to play.  My skill with a weapon, skill with magic, and my shout are all level 7.

The Elder Scrolls VI
I realize that this trailer was probably created to appease The Elder Scrolls community who would have been (and was) upset at the announcement of Fallout 76, considering that Fallout 4 was released only three years ago, but it was still a pretty great teaser.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Fire Emblem: Shadows of Valentia on the 3DS was my first foray into the Fire Emblem series and while I was more than happy with SoV, the style and tactics of the series definitely got its hooks into me, so now I am awaiting this game as well.  Let us just hope that the game is not sold in three separate editions where you have to buy each one in order to experience the entire story, although I can easily see either DLC or amiibo related DLC as a component here.

You know, I really like the visual aesthetic here, possibly because it reminds a little bit of RiME, but obviously more detailed.  Also the music is a major factor in being drawn to this game.  I also liked that they specified that it was "hand crafted" as opposed to procedurally generated, probably to distance itself from being labeled as another No Man's Land.

Rage 2
I really liked the first Rage game so I was pretty excited to see the Walmart announcement that Rage 2 was going to be showcased at E3.  The trailer looks like more of the same of what I liked from the first game, although this one seems to take place closer to after the asteroid hit earth than the first game, which is you basically saving the world.  Either way, I will have to upgrade my computer if I want to play this thing.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
After watching the trailer, I would have been surprised if this was not a game from FromSoftware as it seems very Japanese (in the best way possible), and very Dark Souls-esque, although the combat seems looser and more fluid that either Dark Souls or Dark Souls II (I have yet to play any other game by FromSoftware, but I feel like those are good tastes of their style).

So those are a handful of games that I felt like talking about that were either announced at E3 2018 or were news to me after the week long HERE'S OUR STUFF fest.  I realize that if you were coming here to find out what all the top games were and how our predictions matched up to reality, then I welcome you to our site for the first (and maybe last?) time, because that is not how we do things here, but you are more than welcome to stay nonetheless.

Cause You Make Me Feel So Brand New

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

MIDI Week Singles: "Title Theme" - Flying Warriors (NES)

"Title Theme" from Flying Warriors on the Nintendo Entertainment System (1991)
Composer: Akinori Sawa
Album: No Official Release
Developer: Culture Brain

I felt that it was fitting to feature another piece of music I discovered while delving into the #AllTheNESMusic (as referenced in Monday's article).  This one really surprised me, especially after looking at that wonderful cover there.  What I was not expecting was a theme that reminded me a lot, especially in tone and instrumentation as opposed to melody, to Craig Safan's theme for The Last Starfighter, or Alan Silvestri's theme for Back to the Future.  You know, some might even say that there is some of John Williams' Star Wars in there, but I feel like this is more fantastic and less operatic, but that is just me; bloody hell that sounds snobby (hold on, my glasses fell down my nose).

While listening to the rest of the music from Flying Warriors, it was really nice to hear this main theme sprinkled throughout the rest of the soundtrack, to remind the player that, "While these warriors do apparently tend to walk around a lot, they're still FLYING WARRIORS!!  So you watch out Demonyx!"


Monday, June 18, 2018


It was a while ago while deciding what to do for our MIDI Week Single article that I came up with this idea.  Every so often, I feel like I hit a rut and am afraid that every other song we post is composed by either Koji Kondo, Nobuo Uematsu, Jeremy Soule, or Hirokazu Tanaka.  I also fully recognize that here at Stage Select Start, that we lean pretty heavily on the Nintendo side of things, mainly because that is what Dr. Potts and I grew up with; although the Dr.'s family did have an Atari 2600, but music from that era is more of a sound effect than 80's era video game music.  Then there is an Instagram account I have been following for a while (Gametracks) and I frequently realize how much video game music is out there that I have not been exposed to.  

That is where #AllTheNESMusic comes from.  I decided to start off with only NES music for a couple of reasons, with the first being that this was the system I grew up with.  Even then, there are a lot of licensed NES games, maybe not as mind boggling as in today's PC digital marketplace, but in the mid 80s to early 90s, for a single home console 716 games can be a lot.  And that is only North America and PAL region NES games, which does not include all of the 231 Famicom games, although there is some cross over.  #AllTheFamicomMusic coming your way Spring 2020!

So I decided to start listening to the music from NES games, even if the majority of NES era games never received an official soundtrack release.  There is a community on YouTube that has ripped the music from games and has made that music readily available for listening.  And this listening I have primarily done while at work, and I count myself fortunate enough to work at a place where I am able to have music playing in the background.  So before I go any further, a massive "Thank you" to both Wiiguy's 8BitStereoGBlair, and a handful of others for uploading hours upon hours of music.  And in a few instances, I have had to use longplays in order to listen to the music (looking at you Defenders of Dynatron City).

On the first day, I had originally thought to listen to games chronologically based on their North America release date (because 'Murica!), but after listening to 10 Yard Fight, I decided that I would rather have games crop up with 1m28s of music throughout the entire list, rather than trudge my way through 30+ at the beginning.  Plus, I was not trying to write a piece about the evolution of NES era music, I just wanted to listen to AllTheNESMusic.  So I reordered to list the titles alphabetically and. . . started off with 10 Yard Fight.  Again.

To date, I have made it from 10 Yard Fight up through Fun House.  There have been some odd soundtracks that have cropped up like the Fischer Price series which consisted of primarily MIDI arranged traditional kids songs ("Row Row Row Your Boat," "Pop! Goes the Weasel," etc), but there has also been a lot of music that surprised me.  Some of these new-to-me tracks I have featured on recent MIDI Week Single articles because I feel like they need to be shared.  I currently have a list of songs that I may end up featuring, but as I delve deeper into the alphabet, I know that this is only going to grow longer by the week, and I may never get around to using the music from The Adventures of Rad Gravity or Bandit Kings of Ancient China.

Three of the most interesting things that I have come across while streaming these songs, are the number of games that I have heard of or at least recognize the box art, the number of games I have never heard of before, and how these unheard of games have impacted other peoples' lives.  Games like 8 Eyes, Conquest of the Crystal Palace, and Cobra Triangle are all games that I can recall existing, but nothing more than that.  They are games I never rented from Placer TV/Video, but might have seen them on the shelves there, or at G&G Games.  Then there are games like Banana Prince, Day Dreamin' Davey, and Digger T. Rock: The Legend of the Lost City which were all new titles to me.  But what has really struck me as intriguing, is reading comments from someone who might have played Caveman Games and loved that music as much as I loved the music in CrystalisThere is just something about reading that a particular game someone had a lot of fun playing when they were younger and here I am just finding out that that game existed.

Before I started this, I knew that there were songs from early video games that were just part of the collective consciousness, like "Above Ground BGM" from Super Mario Bros., or "Overworld" from The Legend of Zelda; coincidentally both by Koji Kondo.  However, I began to appreciate just how much music there is out there (specifically NES era music at the moment) that someone took the time to compose that I myself am just completely unaware of, and I aim to change that.

And again, that is just the North American/PAL versions, with the Famicom possibly/probably coming later.  And on my list I have specified NES despite only listening to NES games.  Or maybe this means that I will get around to SEGA Master System (SMS?, #AllTheSMSGames?) games as well?

At A Rate That's Sure To Agitate

Thursday, June 14, 2018

MIDI Week Singles: "Stage Theme" - The 3-D Battles of World Runner (NES)

"Stage Theme" from The 3-D Battles of World Runner on the Nintendo Entertainment System (1987)
Composer: Nobuo Uematsu
Album: No Official Release
Developer: Square

This song came up while doing my #AllTheNESMusic listening (which you can follow over on the Twitteringverse).  So welcome to the world of semi-obscure NES games that I have only seen in one place.  And that place was primarily my neighbor Dellaños' parent's house across the street from where I grew up.  I did borrow The 3-D Battles of World Runner a number of times and I am pretty sure that I was never able to make it past the first level, which consists of running forward on a semi-3D plane dodging enemies and jumping over pits.

And then there is the stage theme, which apparently does not change when you make it to Stage 2, or Stage 3, or the next.  It is the same 45 seconds of music for however long it takes you to get to the boss of each stage, and then it is back to the Stage Theme.  And before writing this article, I was unaware that Square developed this game, and that Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu had composed the music; which really helps to explain why the song is so damn catchy.  YouTube reviewer ThruN00b even came up with lyrics which actually do a decent job of describing the game while making sense of the game's insanity for the most part.

Maybe I will follow up with Dellaños so he can jump in (eh!?) with what experiences with The 3-D Battles of World Runner?  Ideas.


Friday, June 8, 2018

About "The Last Jedi" and "Solo": A Star Wars Article

Before we go any further I am going to start this article off with the following statements (and yes, there will be spoilers for both films of sorts):

  1. I enjoyed and liked Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi
  2. I enjoyed and liked Solo: A Star Wars Story
If either of the two above statements seem to cause you physical pain or elicit a visceral reaction akin to being sucker punched in the pineal gland, then buckle up partner because this is about to get wild.  And if you are someone who did not like either film for reasons that are among those not listed on /r/theredpill or were not part of the reason why Kelly Marie Tran just closed down her Instagram presence then I can assume we are good.  I could probably start a list with all of the things that people have had issues with and put down my counter argument, such as how bombs fall in zero gravity, how light speed works in relation to ships directly in the path of said ship going to light speed, or why Luke Skywalker apparently pussied out and hermitted himself on an island and died in the lamest bitch-ass way possible, which in turn destroyed everyones view of what Luke Skywalker meant to the universe.  For more about my thoughts on The Last Jedi, I will direct you to the article I wrote last December after the movie was released.

And because I was purposefully vague in December's article, I will clarify a bit on what I meant about certain characters not being handled well.  That character was Captain Phasma.  Considering how her last scene in The Force Awakens was left to a call back joke to A New Hope, I half expected her return here to mean something more than sauntering in, ordering an execution, reusing the "traitor" line, and falling into a pit of fire.  Granted I have not read Phasma, which may cover some of that story, but ultimately, I thought that the character and her second death(?) could have been written a bit better.  But, that did not ruin the rest of the movie for me.

In regards to the two big events that apparently really riled up some people (I do not know if it was a lot, most, or quite a few, so let us stick with "some") was the death of Luke Skywalker, and the discovery that Rey's parents were not anyone of note; These are going to be handled very quickly for the sake of my own sanity.

Luke Skywalker's Death:  Based on what little information was given in The Force Awakens, I felt that Luke's reason for going into exile after being betrayed by Kylo Ren was left up in the air.  I never felt that he was off buffering up Jedi energies in order to open up a devastating can of whoop-ass on Kylo and the First Order.  How it was explained in TLJ, made perfect sense to me.  We also do not know all about the time that Luke spent on the island.  Maybe he did go back to muster energies and ended up coming to the conclusion he did by the end of TLJ.  Was I sad to see Luke die?  Sure, but I do not feel that his death demeaned the legacy of the character at all.

Rey's Parentage:  I personally never subscribed to the wants of a lot of people that wanted her parents to be either Luke, Han & Leia (being Kylo's sister), or even Obi Wan's child.  I never liked the idea that since A New Hope, only members of the Skywalker family were able to use the force, and since Rey was force sensitive, that the only explanation was that she was a part of Anakin Skywalker's bloodline.  A lot of this desire for her not to be a part of an existing family stemmed back to a number of people calling for a Pirates of the Caribbean sequel where Will Turner's father to be Jack Sparrow, or that he would be reunited with his in-movie claimed father, Bootstrap Bill Turner; even on the writers commentary they said something along the lines of, "No, he's dead and crushed at the bottom of the ocean once the curse was reversed"; I feel like I have talked about this before.  I was also not excited that R+L did in fact =J, despite all of the hints that I managed to miss that were thrown about during the first five books.  I just really liked the idea that Rey didn't have "royal" parentage, and I still feel fits in perfectly with the subtext of the film that small people can cause great change.

Moving onto Solo: A Star Wars Story and what I have decided to call "The Waterworld Effect."  If you were alive in 1995 and of cognisant mind to recall the build up to the film Waterworld, you will recall all of the bad press that the film received even before it came out.  There were network TV news stories (on either KCRA, KOVR, or something) that reported the atrocity that was the ever ballooning $200,000,000+ budget that included the sinking of an entire set, and apparent blowouts between Kevin Costner and director Kevin Reynolds; I am sure there were others, but those were the two that always come to mind.  Then the summer of 1995 hit, Waterworld was released and I was one who saw it twice in one week.  I thought it was a great movie with an amazing soundtrack.  That was when commercials started airing applauding how much fun a movie Waterwold was, how it was the biggest blockbuster of the summer, and that it was the movie "to see" for the entire summer.  But it was too little too late.  Months of bad press led to a lot of people lauding the movie and it suffered at the box office.  This may not have been all the fault of the press it received, but that was how 15 year old me interpreted it and still do to this day.

This is very similar to what I saw happen with Solo.  There was a lot of talk about Alden Ehrenreich requiring an acting coach.  There was the talk about the first two directors leaving the film after having shot something like 50%+ of the movie.  There was talk about the fact that until There was talk about how John Williams was not going to return to do the score which was suicide for a Star Wars movie; never mind the fact that Michael Giacchino wrote the music for Rogue One.  And on top of all of that, there was the talk about certain segments of the Star Wars fanbase who called to boycott Solo because of how much they disliked elements in TLJ and because they didn't like anything that was not in the original trilogy; that last one may be a bit of a stretch.

I can understand some sentiment with not wanting to continue to watch a series if were unhappy with a film in a series.  I was unhappy with what Joel Shumacher did with Batman Forever and have never seen Batman & Robin.  After X-Men: The Last Stand, my interest in the series plummeted and I had not seen an X-Men movie in the theatres until last year when I saw Logan with Dr. Potts.  I understand that movies can put a bad taste in your mouth, but the amount of vitriol that was apparently created by a very vocal portion of the population who were unhappy with The Last Jedi, combined with a lot of the bad press that Solo received leading up to the film is something that I have not heard a lot of places talk about in regards to Solo's performance at the box office.  

And I do genuinely think that there is a bit of Star Wars burnout.  With the original trilogy, there were two years between each film.  For the prequels, it was still every three years for a new Star Wars film.  Now we have a main film every other year along with a separate story to fill in the gap.  And TLJ was released less than six months before Solo.  That is a very short time, and coming off all of the toxic hate that is still brewing from The Last Jedi probably did not lend any favors to a film in the same universe and being developed and released by the same studio.

(Very much not) in short, if you did not like The Last Jedi or Solo, I do not have a problem with you.  Just do not tell me how two movies that I very much enjoyed should have ended/altered/been completely different because they were full of SJW nonsense that have no place in a Star Wars movie.  We can part ways here and forever.

Everybody Just Sighs

P.S. This article was conceived and written after reading two comment threads on two separate Instagram posts from the official Star Wars account.  People tell you not to read online comments, and at times they are not wrong.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

MIDI Week Singles: "Daytime Stage - Part I" - Bram Stoker's Dracula (NES)

"Daytime Stage - Part I" from Bram Stoker's Dracula on the Nintendo Entertainment System, Sega Master System, Game Gear (1993)
Composer: Jeroen Tel
Album: No Official Release
Developer: Probe Software

I decided to use this song partly because I am playing Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon (and I do not yet have the soundtrack to that game), but also because I feel like I was unaware of this games existence up until last week.  And jeez, this music is something else!  It was composed late in the life of the NES which is probably why it sounds a lot more complicated than a lot of earlier NES games released back in the mid-late 1980s.

Truthfully though, I mentally skipped over this soundtrack the first time I listened to it, but when it cropped up again when I was done with the last game music I was listening to, I thought, "Huh, this is a pretty cool track."  And when I looked at why it sounded familiar, I felt that composer Jereon Tel must have done something right with his very different sounding music for an NES game.  So that is why I wanted to share it will you all today.  Good music deserves to be shared.


Monday, June 4, 2018

Monthly Update: June 2018

I would say that beating two games on the Switch and acquiring two more could be seen as somewhat productive in supporting a platform just over a year old.  I beat Bayonetta 2 (of which I had multiple things to say) early in May and RiME later in the month.  Two completely different games, with the first being a beat-em-up over the top action game, and the latter, a low key and very emotional adventure and puzzle game.  And the two games I picked up this month, Runner3 and Battle Chasers: Nightwar fit into the platforming rhythm game on rails, and a turn based Japanese-style RPG that continues the story from the Battle Chasers comic book series.  And I am going to definitely have to talk about both games, although it is looking more likely that Runner3 is going to get a First Impressions article waaaaay before the Game EXP article comes out.

For June, I received the slightly delayed Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon, an 8-bit Castlevania-esque game developed by Inti Creates as a standalone game that originated as a stretch goal for Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, which is slated to be released in the coming weeks.  And then on the 29th we will see the re-release of the Nintendo Classic, which will hopefully not see the crazy scalper laden days/weeks leading up to and after.  I may just have to show up 30 minutes late to work that day, but at least the Target stores around here open up at 7 AM, so 6 AM wait time it is.

If you have been following us since the beginning of the year, you will have noticed my sporadic mentioning of the horror-esque game Perception, and only Saturday morning I finally finished, and if playing a first person game where the protagonist you play as is blind sounds at all interesting, then you will want to read my Game EXP article which should go up by sometime next week.  And you know, I should probably write about Kamiko too as I have beaten the game with one character and am about 25% of the way through with the second character.

In other realms, the only movie that I have seen over the last month was Solo: A Star Wars Story, and I had thought about putting out an article back on Friday May 25th, but I did not want to come across as the person who went out on Thrusday night to see the movie in order to talk about it less than 24 hours later.  But if you look towards Friday June 8th, my review of the movie should be up by then; although it will have about 0.08247% in staving off all of the bitter and angry people who were upset about nearly anything that happened in The Last Jedi who feel like a boycott retaliation was/is in order.  Yeah, I guess you could say I too am a bit bitter, but that bitterness is directed at the people online who create headlines like "Everything Wrong with The Last Jedi," "Even Mark Hamill Hates The Last Jedi, And Why You Should Hate Solo: A Star Wars Story," "Why Solo is Bombing at the Box Office."  In short, I really liked The Last Jedi, and I really liked Solo: A Star Wars Story, so I guess you could say that I am part of the reason why Disney is destroying the childhood of millions of Star Wars fans.  And to answer that last headline briefly, let us call it "The Waterworld Effect" for now.

In upcoming movie news, I am very much looking forward to Hereditary, of which I know nothing about aside from the fact that it is supposed to be a good horror movie.  Plus it is being distributed by A24, which over the last five years have distributed some well made movies: Under the Skin, Ex Machina, The Witch, The Lobster, and It Comes at Night to name a few.  I will also hopefully make it out to see Avengers: Infiniti War before it leaves theaters.  And the two video game movies, Rampage and The Tomb Raider seemed to have come and gone a lot quicker than I had anticipated, although considering video game movies in general, I am not at all surprised.

On a different note, I am a little sad about our general lack of Dungeons & Dragoning.  Granted we did have two sessions in April and none in May, and after looking at our weekend availability for June, I discovered that there were only three possible days.  Such is the adulting life.  Oh, and earlier in the beginning of the month (it might have even been late April now that I think about it), I picked up the Sanctum of Twilight expansion for Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition, of which we still have yet to play.  You know, I do not think we have played Mansions since we moved into our house back in November.  We could probably chalk that up to no longer having the TV in the main room and limited space to play along with a computer/TV screen.  That should be something we rectify very soon.  On both counts.

So I am going to leave it at that for now, although I am sure there are things that I could go on a bit longer about, but let us leave that for their own articles.

But Is It Though?