Wednesday, March 30, 2016

MIDI Week Singles - 'Save/Continue/Retry" - The Legend of Zelda (NES)

"Save/Continue/Retry" from The Legend of Zelda on the NES (1985)
Composer:  Koji Kondo  (cover by xoNoodles)
Developer: Nintendo

Here is a nice little remix of the Legend of Zelda retry screen.  This song entered my head unbidden today, and hummed peacefully in the back of my mind as I went about my business.  I decided that I would write up a little Midi Week Single for it when I got home.  

However, to my consternation, the original track wasn't nearly as peaceful as the one in my head.  This is due to the abrasive tones coming from the NES soundchip.  Listening to the original version of this track brings back the sense of disappointment which comes from dying in the Legend of Zelda. So often it happens suddenly, after you've made progress in a dungeon and can't bear to do it all over again.  Rather than a peaceful lullaby, the abrasive sounds grind in my eardrums, telling me that I must start the game over if I want them to stop.  

No, thank you.  This peaceful music-box style cover is how I would prefer to remember this track.  I could stand to have it repeat a couple more times, and maybe have the volume up a little on some of the softer hits, but this is definitely the best cover of save/continue/retry I could find.  Enjoy.


Saturday, March 26, 2016

Beautiful Zelda Art

Zelda Open World
I stumbled across this art project by illustrator Jessica Smith, wherein she imagines what the words and environments of the new open world Zelda game might look like. I really enjoy these pictures, they tap into the potential of the Zelda Universe in a way that resonates deeply with me as a fan of the series since its inception.  Here are a few for you, and please visit Jessica Smith's website if you'd like to see more.

Friday, March 25, 2016

First Impressions: Tomb Raider (2013)

We've talked a little bit about when we feel it's right to write up a First Impressions article and after only two hours with Tomb Raider (the 2013 reboot), I feel that I'm just about ready, which is not to say that I know exactly what to expect from the game, just that I'm ready to talk about my two hours.

Pretty good looking game, despite all the destruction.
First off, this game is gorgeous.  I'm running the game on "Normal" settings for those of y'all who want to know, but that's because I'm not sure if my computer could handle the "Ultra" settings and even at "Normal," gorgeous.  I'm also using mouse/keyboard controls instead of a controller because the keyboand preset bindings didn't look to be too complicated (Looking at you Dark Souls and Assassin's Creed) and I have had no problems with playing the game.  There have been a number of instances where I have been required to quickly tap the left-right buttons (A and D), which is kind of awkward, but so would trying to fight off a wolf who is going for your throat.

Presently, one aspect of the game that I feel it suffers from, is the "hurry up and go do something else in the meantime" syndrome.  I'm sure there's a better name for that, but I cannot think of what it is.  What I mean is, in the beginning of the game, you're trying to locate a member of your team who has gone missing, so the remaining members start looking away from you.  After leaving camp, the person you're with radios for you to meet them up a hill.  I then proceeded to thoroughly explore two open-ish areas connected by an underground tunnel.  I also explored an optional cave turned tomb (My first foray into raiding I guess) and I still have a bit more to explore after finding a treasure map.  The point is, in each area, the game tells you how many tombs, artifacts, team member journals, et cetera can be found in an area, and I'll be damned if I'm going to leave stuff in an area unexplored and undiscovered.  It's been the same with Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, that there are some pseudo-time sensitive ("Quick, you need to do this!") quests/missions that you can put off while you explore and upon meeting back up with your quest NPC's, there is no acknowledgement that you've been off gallivanting around uncovering buried bits and pieces of who knows what.

I know that I could just roleplay Lara Croft and only uncover items when I come across them, as opposed to actively searching an open area for them, but the video gamer in me constantly tells me that I should go and find these items because getting to certain areas is basically a puzzle.  AND because the game is actually telling me that there are a specific number of items to be found and what percentage of the items I've already found, I'm going to feel like a failure if I knowingly leave an area without finding 100% of the items.  Granted I say this now, but if there's a scene where I have to Indiana Jones away from a 12 ton boulder, I'm not going to stop and look for that one elusive GPS device.

So only two hours in, I'm very happy with Tomb Raider, being the first game in this illustrious series that I've played for more than 10 minutes (I previously tried Tomb Raider and Tomb Raider 2 on the PSX, and couldn't stand the control scheme so I had to stop).  It's already passed the Bechdel Test (which is nice since it's currently 2016, although the game was only made three years ago) and Lara's outfit seems fitting for the character/story (I like the nod to a similar color scheme as the original series) and doesn't play directly towards the T&A community.  That's really all I have to say about a game that I'm maybe, 5% through.  More to follow later.


Thursday, March 24, 2016

MIDI Week Singles: "BGM - Caught Red Handed" - Mighty Switch Force (3DS)

"BGM - Caught Red Handed" from Mighty Switch Force on the Nintendo 3DS (2011)
Composer: Jake Kaufman
Label: Self Released
Developer: Way Forward Technologies

I picked up Mighty Switch Force through Humble's Nindie Bundle they put together for Nintendo's eShop last year in June and finally got around to playing it within the last week or two.  This track "BGM [Background Music] - Caught Red Handed" is the music that played during Stage 1 (referred to as "Incident 1" in-game) and it's stuck with me since.  The rest of the soundtrack is quite good and in a very similar, catchy and upbeat vein, but this track in particular seems to work very well with the character animation, particularly when there's open room to run without any enemies in the very beginning of the stage.  It's just something about the way the character runs with her shoulders hunched over, the gun pointed down by her feet, whatever's attached to her back wagging back and forth while this dubstep-esque-ish tune goes on in the background, at least for the first 14 seconds.  After that, it's somewhat akin to music Mega Man's fellow crime fighting cousin might have playing in the background.

This being my first game scored by Mr. Jake Kaufman, I am likely to listen to what else he has to offer and it looks like his bandcamp page has most of what he's composed recently, so I have quite a selection to choose from.  Damn, the intertubes are awesome!


Monday, March 21, 2016

60 Minutes in an Escape Room

I had a hard time deciding whether or not I should mention the company that Conklederp, myself and four other of our friends patronized this last Saturday, or go into glorious detail about the specific themed escape room which contained one puzzle in particular that I had initially thought was too complicated outside of an Indiana Jones movie or an early Resident Evil video game, but it happened, it was awesome, but in the end we ultimately failed in escaping the room that we all willingly put ourselves into.  

Escape Rooms are something that I've only recently heard about, easily within the last year.  There was an episode of Extra Credits that covered them and an abbreviated breakdown on how escape rooms function.  I tried to get a group of people (our D&D group) last October for a Zombie Escape Room, but our schedules couldn't be synced in time; end of the year obligations all around.  But Conklederp was able to organize a day among four of our other friends who would be able to join in.  In short, Escape Rooms are rooms that contain a number of puzzles that you are required to solve in order to "escape" from the room, often times with a time limit of one hour.  Obviously escaping could happen with unlimited time, but that takes away from both the company's source of revenue as well as the tension, which helps to drive you as you scour the room looking for clues and puzzles.

Escapism Portland is the company that we decided to go with, partly because of the overall cost of the outing, but also because of the themes they have for their escape rooms.  I won't divulge which of their currently three offered rooms we did, because some minor spoilers might be speckled throughout my talkings, and the last thing I want to do is possibly ruin a puzzle that someone took a fair amount of time to figure out and execute.

Alrighty then, now where to start.

Our group, some of whom had never met before worked remarkably well together.  None of us had done an escape room before (which apparently surprised our host) but we all play video games at varying levels, so I felt that we would do well.  Another aspect of our group that I feel very fortunate about is that no one took over the Alpha role, which might seem odd, that no one person took charge of collecting all the information from the various puzzles, or ordering people around.  There was a clipboard with pen and paper for us to write notes on, but various people took hold of note taking at various points.

As for the puzzles themselves, we were told beforehand by our host what would not be used in the puzzles as apparently groups in the past spent a lot of time trying to figure out why certain objects were where they were and what would happen if they were rearranged somewhere else.  Also that we didn't have to to worry about objects being hidden behind paintings, pictures, or anything else hanging on the walls.  While initially this gave me an "Awwwwhhh," I later appreciated not having to worry about removing a picture or a clock only to spend an additional two precious minutes trying to put the object back on the wall by fitting the nail into the tiny hole in the back.  An unlocked emergency exit (which was right next to the door we used to enter the room) was pointed out and again, I thought "Awwwhhhh" at having an obvious way out, but I understand the logistical and legal (fire code/safety) reasons for having the exit fully accessible.  There was also a phone in the room that the host used to call us every 15-20 minutes to let us know how much time remained as there was no other time keeping device in the room.  We were also able to used the phone to call out to ask for hints, which we only used once after misinterpreting one of the clues.

There were a number of highlights during our hour in the room, most of which I again, cannot divulge without giving away the secrets of the room.  I will say though, that one of the combination locks that we had to find the combination for, I accidentally found.  Upon further examining the room, I noticed the time on the numberless clock and thought that that might work.  After putting in 832 (not the real combination, but for ease of explaining), the combination lock opened.  We found what was inside (more clues to additional puzzles) and moved on.  Only later upon examining a clue we had found earlier, did we discover that 832 was hidden within the puzzle.  I looked back at the clock and noticed that the time had changed.  It turned out that the clock was indeed functional (although the time was incorrect) and that the time (give or take a minute) displayed on it when I was looking at it, just happened to be the combination for the lock.

As previously mentioned, we were unable to make it out of the room, although I will admit that it was not for lack of understanding the puzzles.  In the end, we had all of the pieces to the final puzzle and knew how to go about solving it, but there was another piece to a puzzle (that we knew how to solve), but we were missing an integral piece that allowed the puzzle to be solved.  After the time was up, our host unlocked the door, congratulated us on getting as far as we did and asked if we wanted to know how to solve the rest of the room.  We agreed (I'll get into that in a bit).  It turned out that the missing piece to the second to last puzzle wasn't hidden by another puzzle, but in an area that we had searched earlier, but not searched well enough.  If we had found that elusive piece, we would have been able to decipher a code which would have allowed us to find the final piece of the puzzle and unlock our way out of the room.  

The largest downside I can see with this escape room, is that there is practically no replay value if you get to the end of the room without being able to solve the puzzle, but only if the same puzzles are kept in the same places.  Escapism Portland currently has three rooms with two more on the way and I know for a fact that we (some iteration of our group) will be supporting them in the very near future.  But without new rooms coming every few months (or at least two a year), then there will be a point where we will be unable to give this company any more money.  So when our host asked if we wanted him to show us the solution to the puzzle, I at first thought "No, why would we want to see how it's all done?" but seeing that we only had a few more steps to go, it made sense.  If we were to have returned to do the same escape room (paying the same amount because business reasons), then the experience would have been very diluted (not quite like going through Portal a second time, but more like having to buy Portal again to go through again) and we would have blown through the room in less than 30 minutes.

So in the end, even though we were unable to make our way out of the room, everyone, from what I could tell and from what we all talked about afterwards, had a lot of fun.  We have even started planning on making our way to one of the currently other two escape rooms offered by Escapism Portland.  So if you're in the Portland, OR area and are looking for an escape room, I would have to recommend Escapism Portland.  Of course your experience might vary depending who all is in your group, which I feel is a pretty integral aspect of your own experience.


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

MIDI Week Single: "Hot Top Volcano" - Diddy Kong Racing (N64)

"Hot Top Volcano" from Diddy Kong Racing on the Nintendo 64 (1997)
Composer: David Wise
Developer: Rare

I landed on "Hot Top Volcano" while looking through the N64 games I have here, although Diddy Kong Racing actually belongs to The Kid, I just packed up all the SNES and N64 games when I moved up to the Pacific North West.  I realized that we hadn't done a song from this quirky racing game and "Hot Top Volcano" was the first song that popped into my mind.  This was also the song that made me first think, "Hey, this is pretty good music.  I should look into getting the soundtrack.  Wasn't it advertised in Nintendo Power a few months back?"  Then it was too late and the CD was no longer available.

I don't know if the tribal-esque singing is supposed to mean anything aside from sounding tribal-esque and I don't recall Nintendo/Rare getting similar flack for what happened with Ocarina of Time's Fire Temple music, which apparently never happened in the first place.

So all of that aside, I hope you enjoy this bit from a fun 19 year old racing game that I have, and probably will never beat because Wiz Pig's a jerk-wagon.


Monday, March 14, 2016

Humbling Alternatives

I originally wasn't going to put up a post today, not because I didn't have anything to say, but because all of what I wanted to say I didn't feel was up to snuff with how I wanted to say it all.  I think I have three articles that are more-or-less finished that I'm not 100% satisfied with along with at least four articles that I would like to write about games that I have finished within the last six months.

But today I wanted to talk about alternatives to Humble Bundles.  

This isn't meant as a scathing, "This is why you shouldn't be supporting Humble Bundles" as I recently plunked down some dough for their Star Wars Humble Bundle II, but just to say that I have enjoyed at least one of the other gaming bundle sites, with two other sites that I occasionally visit when I remember that they exist.

I first heard about this gaming bundle site last year from PC Gamer, the online iteration of their physical magazine.  There was some kind of giveaway where you just had to sign up for their newsletter and you were "rewarded" with a number of Steam keys.  I honestly do not remember which games were being offered and looking through my library of unloaded Steam games does not help.

Most of their giveaways are when they are partnered up with another company (at least that is the impression that I get) and they require you to do some combination of signing up for their newsletter, joining their Steam group, tweeting about the giveaway, or some combination thereof.  Sometimes, it will simply be just visiting the site, clicking a "Redeem for Code" button upon visiting the page of a particular game and you have earned yourself a Steam key to a game you did not know you had wanted 30 seconds before opening your email.  Granted not all of the games being offered for free have "Overwhelming Positive" ratings on Steam and about half have a "Mixed" rating.  But free is free and it is hard to complain when you have not given up any money.

As far as their regular bundles go, some look to be quite good and others look to have a game bundled with four or five other games that do not particularly interest me.  I should also note that I have yet to purchase anything from them, through no fault of their own, but mainly because I do not happen to be in a buying mood most of the time, I will however take all the freebies they have to offer.  But when a bundle of 10 games costs $1.99, it is admittedly hard to pass up if you happen to be looking for anything to play and wouldn't be too upset if you only like a single game.

I only recently found out about Inidegala, once again through PC Gamer's facebook page.  There was a giveaway for a game called Timberman.  I am positive that I had linked the free game offer through my Steam account, although upon just checking (as in 10 seconds ago), there is no game linked to either my Steam account or my Indiegala account.

I guess at this point, I am not so much endorsing Indiegala as I am mentioning them.  As with Bundle Stars, I have not purchased any individual games or bundles from the site so I cannot comment on the ease of transactions, nor anything else.  I will say though that I have had to claim and reclaim my account a number of times do to me being a confused person about how to go about claiming the download key for Timberman that I apparently never claimed in the first place.  Sigh.

Indie Royals is closer to what Humble Bundle used to be before they started offering weekly/bi-weekly bundles.  And whenever I remember about Indie Royale, it always seems to be after they've done one of their bundle sales.  I would then assume that I am not on their mailing list, so that is most likely my own fault.

One upside to Indie Royale though, is that most, if not all of the games in their offerings, are also available through Deshura, if that is a gaming client that you are either familiar with or use along with Steam/Galaxy/Origins.  

And now that I think about it, I'm going to see if I can find a bundle service that focuses on older games and that might use games that are more likely to be found on GOG's Galaxy client than on Steam.  Well, at the moment, I am unable to locate a video game bundle service that either focuses or highlights GOG's own client, but maybe that will all change when Galaxy is out of beta.  I can understand that trepidation on the part of the offering company as I do not doubt that there will be people who demand refunds, no matter how much time has passed if Galaxy never leaves beta or, Tyr forbids, closes down indefinitely.

So if you happen to be looking for some inexpensive games that are not AAA, or even single A titles, the following sites have some pretty decent options and Bundle Stars has some frequent giveaways that I have definitely taken advantage of, with the most recent being a free retail copy of Planetary Annihilation, which is available through Steam for $29.99.  Again, it's a mixed reviewed game, but it's free and I will give it a try. . .eventually, but only because I already have a semi-large backlog.

Oh first world problems abound.


Friday, March 11, 2016

Mid Month Update - March

Sometimes the updates come Mid-month.  That's just how it is.

This month I finished X Files, old and new.  Seasons 8 and 9 really weren't good.  They added this whole new arc, and I don't think it had a chance to resolve properly.  Loose ends everywhere, but I guess that's just the X Files.  A few of the new episodes were really good, particularly episode 3 (guest starring Rhys Darby, who is great).  I've since moved on to a 2008 British show called 'Survivors,' which I find I really enjoy, and recommend.  Only two 8-episode seasons, I hope it comes to a good conclusion.  And in the meantime, I tend to fill the gaps with episodes of Scrubs, which is particularly well suited for that role.

Speaking of Scrubs, Jane and I just saw a play, the lead of which could easily have been played by a young Zack Braff.  The play was 'Book of Mormon' and it was very funny.  There was an awful lot of hype for this play, which I think hurt my reaction to it a little.  I was expecting something groundbreaking, but instead I just got something that was pretty funny and with lots of great singing.  But ultimately, nothing particularly different from an episode of South Park.  I would still recommend it, it was a lot of fun, my favorite song was "Spooky Mormon Hell Dream." 

On the Video Game front, Jane and I have been playing Life is Strange and 80 Days.  Life is Strange is a high-production point and click adventure game, where you have the ability to reverse time and change key decisions.  It's pretty cool, but it also is kind of annoying.  The interface takes a little getting used to, sometimes I can't quite interact with objects how I think I should be able to.  Additionally, the characters are 19 years old, and fully voice acted, and I find I can only take so much of that before I need a break.  80 days is a story game, which sort of progresses like a board game.  You buy materials, and hitch rides to different places on the globe, trying to win your bet to get around the world in said 80 days.  The setting is early 1800s alternate SteamPunk history, starting in Britain. I like it.  It feels complete, and there are so many decisions to make, that it's very clear that the game will play out differently on repeated plays.  Not unlike a good board game.

Speaking of Board games, Jane and I play a good amount of Dominion, which is a great card-drafting game.  And we also have been playing Carcassonne, which is a map-building game that is also very fun.  And then, also, there's still Magic: the Gathering.  My latest project has been building my own draft cube, which is lots of fun.  It's like building 10 decks at once.  Even if I never really get to draft it, I think I'll still have lots of fun and probably build another one.  Oh, MTG, so obsessive. 

I guess there really isn't anything else going on.  All the news fit to print,


Wednesday, March 9, 2016

MIDI Week Single: "Walking on the Edge" - Castlevania (NES)

"Walking on the Edge" from Castlevania on the Nintendo Entertainment System (1986)
Label: Konami
Developer: Konami

The Pokémon track I used last week gave me the idea to use this song from the first Castlevania, partly because I feel that it's an underplayed track from the game (not being either "Vampire Killer" or "Wicked Child"), but also because as was the case with last weeks song, this one too contains sound effects from the game, but only during the second playthrough.  And what's great about the sound effects in the background, is that they're in stereo!  The whip sound is in the right speaker with the item pick up in the left.  It's like Simon Belmont swinging a whip through my brain when I listen to it with headphones.

This track is used in the underground stages in the game, of which there are not too many.  In Stage 4, you hear only about 45ish seconds of the song (if you're good at the game) is almost enough time to listen to the song in it's entirety before moving above ground and onto the song, "Stalker."  The point is, is that often times the musical themes had to be so condensed that the player could go through an area and still hear the entire song (at least in the beginning of Stage 4).

And now after seeing Kinuyo Yamashita's discography, I think I'll go listen to some of her other scores from her 14 years composing.


P.S.  A final side note, the music that Kinuyo wrote for Castlevania was the first music she wrote for a video game.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Pak Watch: retro fantasy action

This week, I've got a triple shot of cool looking games, all of which I first noticed on  

Eneme Entertainment
In Development
I love the art style, I love the way the game moves.  It makes me think of a fine retro tune up of old beat'em'up games like Golden Axe.  I wish this game were available to play in an arcade machine at a local bar.  The story and environments are based in Norse Mythology.  Tasty.  


Wizard of Legend
In Development
What can I say?  This game looks neat too!  Similar to Eitr, more of a top down perspective.  Combos, beating up, neat looking pixelated graphics.  My heart warms at the imagery.  A dungeon crawler of some kind.  I just want to mash some buttons!


Odallus, the Dark Call
Joy Masher
Available Now
This is one of the most retro games I've ever seen.  Look at the art style and the stiff animation! Somehow,  the embracing of 8-bit limitations and conventions makes me even more keen on trying this game out. Which I can do, because it's available for $15.  If I do, rest assured, you will hear about it.


Friday, March 4, 2016

Monthly Update: March 2016

Woah, March is already here.  

I think I have a bit to talk about, at least that's what the labels I have listed for today's article seems to imply, so let's go through it all.

In the gaming-verse, I just finished both Dead Space 3 and the Awakening DLC which came out to about 23 hours total.  Without going into too much detail right now, I will say that I actually enjoyed it a lot more than I did with Dead Space 2, which kind of surprised me as it was a lot more action oriented than the original Dead Space and there was the co-op aspect of the game that I was not looking forward to having to deal with; although it turned out that it wasn't as required of an aspect as I had previously thought it to be.

In Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, I've now reached the point where I am not only hunting down Mordor Captains, but the War Chiefs as well.  I am having a lot of fun with the game as Conklederp also enjoys watching, but I've been feeling for a while that there is not as much to the game as I had originally thought.  Admittedly though, I do spend a lot of time just hunting down Captains and getting killed by caragors and the damned annoying ghul matron.  I'm still not 100% sold on the main character, Talion's design as I just think he looks too bulky.

I've also been playing a lot of ATV Wild Ride 3D, a 3D version of Renegade Kid's ATV Wild Ride.  Normally it's not my type of game (ATV racing), but I have a bit of thing for the games that Renegade Kid puts out (Dementium I & II, Mutant Muds, Moon) and I had read/heard that it's comparable to Excitebike, which I now understand.  Plus the soundtrack is damn good with plenty of catchy original songs by Swift Justice and the Hired Goons.

In other 3DS schtuff, in the next month and-a-half Nintendo will be releasing nine SNES games in their eShop.  The titles are Super Mario World, F-Zero, Pilotwings, Super Mario Kart, Earthbound, Donkey Kong Country, A Link to the Past, Super Metroid, and Donkey Kong Country 2, which all sound great.  The downside though is that they are slated to be released only on the "New" 3DS system, as opposed to the original 3DS.  This makes me pretty sad for a couple of reasons, the main one being that because I don't have the New 3DS, I won't have access to any of these games and I seriously hope that this doesn't mean that Nintendo's future releases on the Virtual Console will not be New 3DS exclusive.  I will not be happy.

Moving onto non-video gaming topics.  I've mentioned Ravenloft a number of times (I think), and today the new campaign setting and story Curse of Strahd was released to local gaming stores (it will be available online on March 15th), which I think is a great marketing tactic by Wizards of the Coast.  Needless to say, which is why I am still saying it, I am super excited about 5th Edition's delving into Ravenloft.  There has been a slough of materials that WotC has released to drum up interest and maintain anticipation for this new product's release.  Conklederp and I are about halfway (maybe?) though the free Ravenloft adventure, Death Housewhich has been a lot of fun so far.  It's great to be back in Barovia.

I also backed the Cyanide and Happiness Kickstarter for their own card game (because I'm apparently a sucker for card games), Joking Hazard.  In a similar vain, our friends group has had the chance to play Exploding Kittens a number of times and I have had a lot fun.  I love that it's designed to be played in 10-15 minutes.  But Joking Hazard looks to be pretty funny, and let me tell you I'll take any advantage to making me at least look like I can be funny.

Plus there're these annoying things called "finals" coming up in the next few weeks, so we'll just have to see how much I get accomplished before the month is out.


P.S.  Oh, and then there's been season 5 of Vikings that's currently on, House of Cards season 4 which comes out today, the Game of Thrones season 5 blu-ray coming out in under two weeks, the season premiere of Bates Motel and some catching up to do in The Walking Dead universe.  And there're some miniatures that I need to finish painting.  And a song that Vorlynx wrote a number of years ago that I need to record vocals for.

P.P.S I'm sure that there're things I've forgotten to bring up, but that's what the rest of the month is for.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

MIDI Week Singles: "Battle (VS Trainer)" - Pokémon Red/Blue/Green/Yellow (GB)

"Battle (VS Trainer" from Pokémon Red/Blue/Green/Yellow on the Game Boy (1996, 1998).
Composer: Junichi Masuda
Album: Pokémon Red/Green Super Music CollectionPokémon LP
Label: The Pokémon Company
Developer: Game Freak

All the hubbub the last couple of days has been about Pokémon's 20th anniversary (although not released in North America until 1998), and I thought what better way to celebrate the 20 years that monsters have been invading our pockets in little round balls than to expose some of that glorious music that Junichi Masuda composed.  From a soundtrack of 40+ tracks (which is rather impressive for a Game Boy game), I decided to showcase "Battle (VS Trainer)."

Now, I know that there are plenty of people who could tell you which Pokémon is making which sound once they start making noises around 01:39 and which sound effect is actually one of their attacks and not the Pokémon making their name/call/noise.  I should also say that I haven't actively played my copy of Pokémon Red for at least a decade, although I will occasionally turn it on just to make sure that the battery is still functioning and my save file hasn't been erased (again).

My reasoning though behind deciding on this track in particular is that while it is a frequently heard track, along with "Battle (VS Wild Pokémon)" and the "Pokémon Recovery" jingle, I wanted to use a track that was exciting yet still very familiar, but not used as frequently as the above songs.  (Damn, does that make me a hipster?)  Plus, I really like the inclusion of the various Pokémon sound effects that have been inserted after the song has made it's full lap.

Now that I think about it, I could probably do a Game Scores article about Junichi's score for Pokémon, so I'll go and find a spot on the back burner for that one.


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Pak Watch: Pretty Pretty games

Beyond Eyes
Beyond Eyes is a game where you play a little blind girl looking for her lost cat.  For whatever reason, this is depicted by beautiful water-color looking landscapes on a white background.  I really don't know anything more than that, but just look at it!  So pretty.  I am generally in support of games with unusual and down-to-earth premises that many call 'walking simulators.'  Additionally, I can't resist a game with a eye-catching art style.  Beyond Eyes is available on Steam.  

Way to the Woods
Platform Unknown
Way to the Woods is a game designed by a 16 year old kid, which rocketed to the Tumbler front page and got a lot of attention.   And just look at it!  So pretty.  I have no idea how this works, except that you are two deer wandering in strange landscapes.  Another walking simulator?  Sign me up!  Way to Woods is still in early development, I'll post updates as I get them.  

Vane is an 'open world adventure game based on mystery and exploration.'  It follows a little boy with unusual powers wandering through a desert and the ruins of an ancient civilization.  Sounds like a beautiful way to waste a bunch of time.  This game is still in early development, and has the best looking desert I've seen since Journey.