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Found 40 results

  1. Marcus Estrada

    Video Game Music Gone Wrong

    Video games have not always contained music. During their inception, the hardest task was simply learning how to get an image moving on the screen. Audio got added in soon enough, but it was a far cry from the orchestrated scores of today. Still, many arcade games did their best to have an addictive theme and succeeded. Since then, fans have gathered around video game music as a great auditory medium. As great as some game music is though, there are times when music is a great disservice to the title it is included within. Sometimes it may just be one song out of place, and others may hinder an entire game with a lackluster soundtrack. On occasion, there are songs so completely bad that you can“t help but obsess over aching eardrums instead of what is even occurring in the game. Music can have powerful effects in the positive and equally in the negative. With all that said, let's take a look at some shamefully bad game tracks! Doom II: Hell on Earth First, let“s go with an example of a game being harmed throughout thanks to an unfitting soundtrack. Doom II: Hell on Earth was a much anticipated sequel to the original Doom. This popular FPS had been paired with MIDI rock which arguably was a big part of the experience. Doom II had some of this, but it also had a lot of incredibly questionable music choices. When multiple tracks can be compared to elevator music, you know you“re doing wrong by Doom. http://youtu.be/NOTFyvj0vaw Castlevania: Symphony of the Night Other times, games can be fantastic up until the final point. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night has long been acknowledged as a marvelous game in the series. However, one simple song is queued up at the end which nearly ruins everything. Granted, some fans have gone to laud the song for its hilariously out of place nature, but it still stands as being pretty damn bad. I mean, honestly, who thought this smooth ballad was befitting to such an action-packed game? Apparently Konami has yet to learn from their mistakes as they continually include unfitting songs in their games to this day (see Never Dead and Silent Hill: Downpour), although they have since removed "I am the Wind" from re-releases. Night Trap Sometimes there are games that already bad but could be aided by some good music. Although the games may be beyond redemption, at least they could include a few entertaining tracks to keep the experience from being completely useless. Unfortunately, "horror" game Night Trap was never given such a chance. Much of the music is of no consequence, being barely there to begin with aside from sound effects. But there is one song that has managed to survive far past its FMV days and live on in infamy. Give it a listen and see if you find any redeeming qualities. For the most part, video game music is either unassuming, slightly endearing, or totally awesome. On the occasion that music is bad is when it becomes ridiculed and, in some cases, far outlasts the game it was included with. In some way, this may please the composers as at least their work isn't lost to time, but tends to be the far more embarrassing road. Is it better to score boilerplate rock or orchestrated music or a musical abomination? At the very least no, games can suggest they have music as bad as the entity that is Crazy Bus. This title, developed in 2004, is little more than a title screen and a soundtrack, but has attained fame due to one thing: Its god awful music. I will leave readers with this video as it is one of the worst example of video game “musicé ever conceived:
  2. Link Heard good things about this.
  3. The BIT.TRIP series is one which has managed to flourish thanks to addictive gameplay and a weird retro/modern aesthetic. Today, Game Music Bundle has partnered up with Gaijin Games to unleash a new bundle on the world. As this is through Game Music Bundle and not, say, Indie Gala or Royale or whoever else, the focus of BIT.TRIP Lovers' Bundle is on music. There are three tiers available, although the first gives you a great deal of music. For $1 to $9 you get all these BIT.TRIP soundtracks: BIT.TRIP BEAT BIT.TRIP CORE BIT.TRIP FATE BIT.TRIP FLUX BIT.TRIP RUNNER BIT.TRIP VOID Putting in $10 to $19 adds in just the Runner2 soundtrack. Finally, for the price of $20 you get all the soundtracks as well as a pre-order on Runner2. Runner2 is set to be out on February 26th. If you shoot for the game then be aware that you're getting a Steam key. If you're a veritable moneybags then you may get a gift. The top contributor will be awarded with a CommanderVideo statue. Everyone in the top five will receive a poster, and then those in the top ten will get a shirt. Right now, the highest contribution is $50.
  4. Rock Band Blitz hit the gaming world last year to critical praise. The Harmonix-developed rhythm game looked to be another take from the blueprints of Frequency until it was actually played. Once you got your hands on a controller (no more plastic guitars!) and gave it a go, it was easy to see the differences. The biggest change is the addition of social features which connect players to their Facebook. Though this gate, gamers can tackle challenges or attempt to best their friend“s scores. It“s certainly an intriguing feature, but is it the sign of a shift? Your main goal in Rock Band Blitz is to get the highest scores possible on songs. Although the game itself only comes with a handful of songs, most players have probably accumulated lots of Rock Band Network DLC. No matter what song you play though the goal is always the same. You are meant to score major points on a song and skyrocket to the top of the high score charts. There“s nothing at all wrong with this, as it feels very arcade-like, but its implementation is odd. In order to get the maximum points possible you“re going to want to use power ups. Unfortunately, these power ups can only be purchased (per track) via coins. Coins might at first sound like a scary free-to-play scheme. Thankfully this is not the case - you gain coins through beating songs. This is one of the first strange design choices for the game. Why must you purchase these power ups on a song by song basis? Why isn“t just unlocking them enough? There would have still been strategy involved in selecting only a certain set of power ups on each track without having to pay for them each and every time. Grinding doesn“t seem to jive with the Rock Band universe. What do you get for maxing your scores? The whole point seems focused around competing against your Facebook friends. While there is nothing wrong with this on its own, it seems strange how the game basically is just a hub to that world. It doesn“t offer nearly as much competition between you and your “gaming” specific friends on Xbox Live or PlayStation Network. Strangely, when you play a song it does pit you against “someone”. Unfortunately this someone isn“t even a real person but always the same set of fake players (named after Rock Band characters). Why, if the game is so competition-focused, do you not get to see how you fare against any other real player? At least there is a high score list to view after each song. Not your traditional rhythm game Now, what if you totally love the Facebook connectivity? That“s perfectly fine as it certainly is a new way to interface with the game. This leads into another strange choice by Harmonix - why aren“t there difficulty settings? Instead of giving you the option to play a game on an easy or other difficulty level like most other rhythm games out there, you are simply given one difficulty. I“m not aware of how Harmonix managed to port almost all the RBN library into the game but it must not be too hard to convert tracks. If that is the case it should have been easy enough to list all difficulties for each song instead of selecting one to use forever. It seems that Harmonix wanted to make a game that“s hugely accessible to the Facebook crowd. Aside from the complexity of how to best amplify your score, the game is designed to be quite simple. Having one difficulty setting is an example of that, as it keeps players contained to one exact note chart for each song eternally. The same can also be said for how the game does not grade, or rate you down for awful performances much. In games like Frequency and Amplitude you would fail out of a track if you couldn“t keep up. Here, you can play the song no matter what and still manage to score some points. There is little depth to the gameplay to make it truly rewarding. It feels great to trump a friend and brag to them about it online, but what reason is there to keep playing beyond that? You can hammer through annoying charts with the crummy default controls (or switch to superior “Freakish”) but it only does so much. In Harmonix“s earlier games you felt compelled to play as the lanes would stop playing their specified instrument if you weren“t taking care of them. You would get more than scores, you would get a sense of accomplishment for completing stages. Instead of two buttons per lane there were three, and that allowed for a fair bit more creativity than pressing the left and right ones a million times. Harmonix has definitely created a game worth playing but it may not be for the traditional rhythm game crowd. Rock Band Blitz easily ushered in Rock Band fans who had put their dusty guitars away but how long will they stay involved? It is a new way to play the songs you already bought - but is it a fun way? Again, there“s nothing wrong with making a fully arcade-like experience where you compete for scores. This is something that some enjoy and there“s no reason they shouldn“t. However, if other rhythm and music games take this path it may take away from what rhythm games have always had going for them. Rhythm games are fun. They increase in difficulty from easy to hard and you might struggle through them for hours, but eventually you“ll be able to master them. That feeling of becoming skillful at hitting buttons, strumming, or dancing is a simple pleasure that music games have been able to provide since their inception. Rock Band Blitz is strong when it comes to online bragging, but falls short of providing a whole experience. Many will disagree, but no matter how it looks, Rock Band Blitz isn“t your typical rhythm game. It is something else which hits close, but in fact may change the whole understanding about what players like from their music games.
  5. This generation has been one of change. Not only have our consoles morphed into new shapes and sizes over these last few years, but thanks to the invention of firmware updates and a new world where everyone is always online, we've been able to see features come and go at a staggering rate. In a world where so many changes can happen to a console in a moment's notice, its easy to forget some of the things that have gone of the way of the dinosaurs over the years. Whether they were big or small, unknown or controversial, everything has been seemingly forgotten, like these four things right here! The Xbox Blades Dashboard If there was a console with an identity crisis, it would probably be the Xbox 360. The system's menu has changed so many times over the years I've lost count of just how many changes Microsoft has made. Not that I was actually keeping track or anything of the sort. I want to make some sort of Blade joke, but really... just look at it. After so many changes were made, its easy to forget just what the system's electronic face originally looked like. I'm pretty sure Microsoft doesn't even use the word "Blade" anymore when describing the different pages that appear on the Xbox dashboard. But the past isn't easily forgotten when you have modders. Yes, the original dashboard is still alive and kicking on all those random Xbox(es?) out there that have been modded in all sorts of crazy ways. Even those old forgotten blades are still making an appearance on some of these consoles. It looks insanely gaudy and out of date, but there's still a small group of people out there keeping tradition alive. The Jingle Of The PS3 This change was so small, most people didn't even notice it happened at all. With the original Playstation 3 system, there was a small jingle that played whenever you started up a game. Along with that jingle came the Playstation logo with its lovely Spider-Man font. How would you represent a jingle with an image?! So yeah, you probably already know why the jingle went away, thanks to that last line in the section above this one. When the Playstation's price drop first happened, Sony decided to do a console rebranding and changed their PS3 logo into a more sleek design. With the change, Sony was forced to remove that old Spider-Man font that appeared in front of every single game you played. When they did that however, they just decided to scrap the whole opening logo and the jingle was tossed out. You took it for granted and now its gone forever. AND YOU DIDN'T EVEN NOTICE. Backwards Compatibility We all know about the Playstation 3's checkered history with backwards compatibility. First it was in, then it wasn't, then it was in again and now we have to buy our PS2 games a second time if we want to play them on our PS3's. Sony gets a lot of flack for this. But Nintendo pulled Gamecube support on the Wii and nobody has really made a single hubbub about it. Did they really have to smash my Gamecube too? Starting sometime last year, Nintendo released a slight revision of the Wii console in the UK. This version of the console was slightly smaller than the original Wii, but only due to the fact that Nintendo removed the area where you plugged in Gamecube controllers along with Gamecube functionality. And now Nintendo is at it again with the Wii Mini in Canada. Except not only have they removed Gamecube backwards compatibility, they've also taken out the ability to connect to the internet! This console of theirs is really as bare bones as it gets. But it still surprises me to see nobody being upset about the missing Gamecube functionality. The console had plenty of good games! We can't just up and forget about those to save a bit of money! After this was all said and done you're probably thinking that most of these things really weren't all that important (especially backwards compatibility) And you'd be right. Nobody is going to miss a jingle that played before every game you started. But there's no way I'm going to let you forget it. As always, thanks for reading
  6. Marcus Estrada

    VIDEO: DDR on Commodore 64

    I don't know why someone decided to do this but they made a DDR game on Commodore 64. It includes 8 songs and three difficulty settings. The most interesting part to me though is that you can also use an adapter to play the game on a C64 with an actual dance pad. It's also possible for people to make their own tracks although the game itself seems more for novelty value than anything else.
  7. Marcus Estrada

    Fourth Game Music Bundle Arrives

    With no lack of gaming bundles available over the past weeks and months, most probably have enough games to last them through the rest of the year. What if you're still looking for something else to pick up? Well, if you're one who enjoys video game music then perhaps the latest Game Music Bundle will be up your alley. Instead of offering game downloads, it sets buyers up with soundtracks. There are two price tiers for this bundle. For $1 you get these five albums: Dear Esther by Jessica Curry Indie Game: The Movie: The Soundtrack by Jim Guthrie Spelunky by Eirik Suhrke Retro City Rampage by Freaky DNA and Norrin Radd Shoot Many Robots by Disasterpiece If you're willing to put down at least $10 then five more downloads are included: Adventures in Pixels by Ben Landis Jottobots by Josh Whelchel Joypad Powerup by various artists Kanto Symphony EP by Skotein Skyrim Main Theme by Peter Hollens and Lindsey Stirling Obviously you can choose to pay any price over $1 but if you need them all then at least pay $10. As with previous bundles, if you manage to be a top contributor then you may be awarded with some extra tangible prize. The top ten contributors will receive the Indie Game: The Movie soundtrack on a record and Zelda: Twilight Sympony CDs while the top five will get that and Retro City Rampage record as well. Yes, those are real vinyl records. All downloads come as both high-quality MP3 (320kbs) and FLAC files.
  8. Marcus Estrada

    Review: Orgarhythm

    Developer: Nielo/AQUIRE Corp. Publisher: XSEED Games Platform: PSN (Vita) Release Date: October 23, 2012 ESRB: E10+ Have you become tired by the world of music games which, until recently, has been creating lots of similar titles? It“s fun to use plastic guitars or dance mats to hit buttons at the right time but after awhile you begin to wonder if there are other ways that music games can be created. We“ve seen some creative rhythm games coming out lately and it seems that another has just shown up for the Vita. Orgarhythm is about as strange as its name, but also a neat little experience. The name Orgarhythm does little to explain what the game is about, so let“s give that a shot. In it, you play as the God of Light who is hoping to take down the God of Darkness, his own brother. In order to do this, you must work your way through level after level with troops of warriors ready to do your bidding. How does this manage to become a rhythm game? Well, it“s all due to the way that the troops are controlled. To issue orders to your team, you must go through a series of screen touches. First, you will be required to touch the God, which means it is time to start issuing instructions. Then, hit the marker for which troops you wish to command. There are three colors, each of which has its own benefit or problem facing against other colors. After selecting the proper group, it is then time to choose what you want them to be doing. They can be sent off to simply engage in close combat, use arrows, or do other special features like lob giant boulders. Finally, you draw a line to designate where the characters should head to engage in battle. At the start, this whole method of gameplay is kind of confusing. It“s not particularly hard to recognize that the three troops' strengths/weaknesses play out like rock, paper, scissors, but that doesn“t mean you“ll be prepared. This is due to the fact that you are purely commanding troops. The God of Light himself is always walking along a set path, which means you must be ready to fight continuously and without much time to stop and think. Thankfully, the buttons you must touch on screen always remain in the same spots so you will never end up scrambling to find them. One other thing that makes battles hard at the start is that the game hinges leveling up on how well you are able to hit buttons along with the beat. Each level has its own music playing, and you are meant to carry out commands by pressing as the beat hits. It isn“t particularly hard in theory, but when you“re stressing out about a new wave of enemies coming close, you may find yourself screwing up a fair bit. This takes some time to get used to, but eventually it manages to become second nature. Once it is, you“ll be able to reap all the benefits of perfectly-timed presses with more troop level ups. Of course, if you“re missing hits a lot, then troops will level down. Although Orgarhythm isn“t easy, it does at least offer some aid to those who may not be great at the game. There are two difficulties for each level at the start, one for casual players and one for more advanced types. Also, once in a song, if you are bad at hitting notes the music will simplify itself down to make it easier to hear the beats. The only problem with that though is unskilled players won“t be able to enjoy the soundtrack fully as they won“t be able to hear it as it“s meant to be heard! There is no practice mode, but hearing the song stripped down to basics should aid confused players a bit. Beyond your small army of multi-colored beings, there are also a few more tricks up the God of Light“s sleeve. For one, he has access to four main support skills. These are able to increase defense of your team, or heal them up, and a few other things. There is also a special attack which he may launch after having done enough support moves. Using the attack means that every enemy around will get struck. It is rarely something you“ll find yourself needing, but support skills definitely are a big help. The heal in particular is fantastic since the God himself has no other means of protection aside from his team. There are twelve levels in all, which each have their own boss enemy at the end. These encounters require you to be able to use troops strategically, as well as fight quickly. Each boss has its own special features and some stages even have easier ways to take them down. One thing common between bosses is that they rarely are fighting alone. They tend to shoot out their own enemies to fight against yours, but you still must be able to hit the boss itself in between waves of smaller baddies. Once they get taken down, the stage ends and you are graded on your skill. Although there might not seem like so many levels overall, you might find them worth trying out in multiplayer. These two modes are co-op and versus, which act as you might expect. Unfortunately, both modes are based off of an ad hoc connection. Multiplayer is confined to “local” play, as opposed to online. Obviously this is fine if you have friends who are going to get together and play Orgarhythm on Vita, but this probably isn“t a common experience just yet. As such, I am unable to speak to how these modes play at this time. However, you can check out high score boards with players from everywhere. When it comes right down to it, the game feels kind of short, but if you“re really into it then it will probably offer a lot of replay value. XSEED also will be adding in DLC tracks and stages soon, but right now none are available. Orgarhythm definitely is a good mix between rhythm and RTS and is able to entertain for a handful of stages. If you are a fan of music games and own a Vita then this is definitely a game worth looking into, but expect that you will probably want to grab the DLC when its out to expand your experience. It is a strangely tough game to play at the start, but once you can finally wrap your mind around it (and speed up your thumb presses) then it becomes a fun, and hugely creative, musical adventure. Pros: + Nice variety of musical tracks, all of which are fun to listen to + Gameplay is simple to understand but tough to master + Creative boss designs and strategies to defeat them Cons: - Small amount of tracks for the $30 price - Multiplayer partners and opponents may be hard to find Overall Score: 7 (out of 10) Good Orgarhythm offers an interesting new experience to those used to “regular” rhythm and music games.
  9. Marcus Estrada

    Orgarhythm Arriving on Vita Later this Month

    Are you a rhythm gaming or real time strategy fan who has been waiting for Vita games up your alley? If either (or both genres) are to your tastes then Orgarhythm should definitely be on your radar. The oddly named game has been known to be coming for months now, but was finally given a release date. XSEED Games has announced it will be coming on October 23rd. Orgarhythm is a RTS and rhythm hybrid which sees players controlling small armies to combat opponents with. Controlling troops in particular is done with screen prompts which should be hit to the beat of the music. Although it sounds a bit odd, it plays well once you get the hang of it. If you're wondering who would come up with such a thing it might help to know the studio that developed the title. The game was developed between AQUIRE and Nielo, the latter of which was founded by Takashi Hirai of Rez and Space Channel 5 fame. On October 23rd, Orgarhythm will arrive exclusively on Vita. It will only be available as a digital download and is set to cost $30. In case you were wondering about the contest to get your own music in the game, it's now over, and winners are expected to be announced soon.
  10. Since the launch of Steam Greenlight, we“ve seen many games show up on the service. Some appear in much more finalized states than others, and some are already existing games simply looking for the chance to be on Steam. Many fall into the category of platformer, or retro-styled, horror, and the like. However, a few of the games on Greenlight are really standing out as something different. These handful of distinctive games are worth taking a look at for trying new things. A handful are already released, while others are currently in development. Regardless of status, they're all worth looking into for one reason or another. Dream Dream is an upcoming adventure title by HyperSloth. As the name implies, it deals heavily with dreams and nightmares. In particular, the story is described as a college graduate who has no plans for his future. In his post-graduate life he obsesses over dreams as a coping mechanism to find his place in the world as well as to deal with the death of his uncle. While it may be defined as an adventure game outright, the focus is more pure exploration than anything else. Instead of being forced into a strict narrative, you may work through dreams in a non-linear fashion. Although no one knows yet if this game will succeed, it does have some notable titles that inspired development: Dear Esther, LSD: Dream Emulator, and Yume Nikki. To some, it might seem like this sort of game wouldn't grab the interest of gamers. However, it was one of the very first selected to be Greenlighted through Steam and will be available soon. FRACT OSC When people think of “experimental”, FRACT OSC is the kind of visual that probably comes to mind. Developer Phosfiend Systems calls their game a “first-person puzzle-adventure game inspired by synthesizers and electronic music.” This is probably the most apt description possible, although it doesn“t enforce the idea that it“s a music game too. The world of FRACT is “built” off music which seems to create an interesting world for puzzling. In the past, rhythm and music games were highly contained into being a certain way. Games like Dance Dance Revolution, Beatmania, and even PaRappa the Rapper all focused on hitting buttons along to a beat. The configuration wasn“t important as long as that specific gameplay element was there. We“ve begun to see more creative music-based games in the past few years, but this looks to be one of the few since Rez to focus on a world where you have control over music. Speaking of which, the developers said their game is like “Myst meets Rez meets Tron,” and its easy to see why they say so. http://youtu.be/Gk3wYi47gtc POP: Methodology Experiment One “POP: Methodology Experiment One is an experimental game in the most literal sense”, says developer Rob Lach Games. In this game you are meant to play through many brief games that aren“t connected by any genre. This is due to the fact that the developer created the game“s music first, and then went on to make gameplay that seemed to fit along with it. Although the game is based on music, there“s no requirement for you to hit keys along with the beat. The effect, Rob Lach says, is to create a “purposefully disjointed experience”. By simply watching the trailer it“s easy to see that this is true. POP“s visuals may be reminiscent of retro games but the concepts behind it have probably rarely been used in any actual development cycle. The game is already available via Desura or the official website but will probably get a lot more attention if it succeeds on Greenlight. The Real Texas Although The Real Texas may be an adventure game at its core, it manages to be a hugely creative title. What comes to mind when you think of adventure? Sometimes it“s a classic point-and-click or maybe even a modern action adventure romp. Rest assured that this game is neither, and there is probably very little like it on the market at all. Because of this, it manages to encapsulate the phrase “experimental” despite having a lot of concepts that we have seen elsewhere. The Real Texas by Kitty Lambda Games focuses around a rather blocky man named Sam who is on a vacation on England when he somehow manages to get transported to “The Strange Texas”. Using his wits and guns he meanders about helping and/or killing whatever he meets. Although the exploration is part The Legend of Zelda and part Ultima, it really manages to forge its own completely strange identity. This is another game that“s currently available, and gained some fans, but may become more of a cult hit on Steam. TRIP Now that we“ve reached the last featured game it“s time to pull out all the stops. If you opened this article hoping for something like a drug-induced trip, well, TRIP is your game. More art experiment than game, it focuses on checking out the digital world you“re placed inside rather than achieving any goals. In fact, there are no goals or enemies to take down. As developer Axel Shokk says, "...just you and the world”. It“s another game that looks like it could be inspired in some way by LSD: Dream Emulator, but regardless, it“s definitely creative. The graphics are simple polygons free of textures and almost seem reminiscent of early 3D consoles. Why pay for a game with no objectives? Some people probably won“t, but for others it will be a strange little world to mess around in for a bit. Sometimes exploring unfamiliar worlds is the most fun part of games. The game is already available via the official site but will definitely reach a brand new audience thanks to Greenlight. Even though Steam Greenlight has only been around for a month or two, the service has already seen many incredible submissions. The only unfortunate thing is how many of the games are hard to distinguish from one another. There“s nothing wrong with any genre, but games such as the ones listed here definitely manage to stand out more - for better or worse. Although these games might not all make the move to being on Steam, they“re at least grabbing the attention of gamers browsing the pages of Greenlight.
  11. Are you a Vita owner who is looking for rhythm games to play? There are a handful on the horizon but your best bet might just be to look into DJMax Technika Tune. The title was announced a while back as coming to the US, but with no word as to the actual date. Developer Pentavision has now announced it will roll out to stores on October 26th. This isn't all that was announced. Alongside a $50 physical release will be a Limited Edition priced at $100. What are you getting for paying twice the price? DJMax Technika Tune Limited Edition will be limited to 750 units and contain the following: Game, two disc soundtrack, artbook, strap, hard case, soft pouch, and screen cleaner. If you want to order it the Technika Limited Edition will be up for pre-orders on September 27th through Amazon and Pentavision. If you've simply embraced the digital age and can do without all this stuff the game will also be coming to PSN. However, there was no date announced for that aside from acknowledging that it will come after the physical launch.
  12. Developer: indieszero Publisher: Square Enix Platform: Nintendo 3DS Release Date: July 3, 2012 (out now) ESRB: E10+ for Everyone 10 and older The Final Fantasy series has not only graced us with memorable characters and stories, but also breathtakingly beautiful music. Terra“s Theme, To Zanarkand, Aerith“s Theme, and The Man with the Machine Gun are just few of many. So, why not make a Final Fantasy rhythm game? And that“s just what Square-Enix did when they brought out Theatrhythm Final Fantasy. It doesn“t disappoint at all, either. Right off the bat, Theatrhythm asserts itself as a creative and unique sort of rhythm game. Not only will you be tapping and sliding your stylus to Final Fantasy tunes, but you“ll also be leveling up characters, honing their stats and abilities, and collecting items and collectables. In a broad sense, it“s an RPG/rhythm-game hybrid. There are three modes for you to play in: series, challenge, and Chaos Shrine. Series mode allows you to play five songs from a Final Fantasy title in a row. Challenge mode lets you choose a single song to play through. Both series and challenge modes have three difficulty settings: basic, expert, and ultimate. Basic is pretty, well… basic. Those familiar with rhythm games will have absolutely no problem perfecting all the songs in this mode. Expert is a lot more challenging than basic, but ultimate is where the real fun is. It“s so fast-paced and will get your adrenaline pumping. You have to be a real rhythm game master in order to 100% all the songs on ultimate – or get all critical on each song, if you want to push it up a notch. The only annoying thing is that expert and ultimate modes are not available from the start. The third mode, Chaos Shrine, is where you“ll be spending a lot of your time if you“re interested in farming for rare items and shards (which are needed to unlock new characters). With Chaos Shrine, you receive “Dark Notesâ€, which consist of two songs. Every single Dark Note is randomly generated, so the amount of possible combinations for songs, scores, difficulty, bosses, and items is practically endless. The main problem I have with Chaos Shrine, however, is that there are only 20 songs (out of 70 or so that Theatrhythm has) that it uses. So, I hope you like hearing Fight with Seymour, Eternal Wind, and Mambo de Chocobo over and over again. Regardless, the random generation within Dark Notes still makes Chaos Shrine fun. The selection of songs chosen to be included in the base game of Theatrhythm is pretty nice. Most of the classics you know and love are in there ready to be played countless times. Of course, some of your favorites are probably missing and were made into DLC instead. Each song is only a dollar, but if you wanted all the ones currently available… it would be a little over $40 altogether. It“s a pretty steep price, but diehard Final Fantasy fans have had no trouble paying the money for all those songs. I“ve not bought any yet myself, but if I did have 40 bucks magically appear in my wallet right now, there might be a small chance I would put that towards some eShop cards to buy some sweet Theatrhythm tracks. And hey, with how much I“ve fallen in love with the game, it would be totally worth it. I also really enjoyed the wide variety of characters that are available to use. Not only are there 13 at your disposal right at the very beginning, but there“s another 13+ to unlock as you gather more shards throughout your playthrough. And they“re all so cute in Theatrhythm“s art style! Though I won“t spoil who you can get, I am somewhat disappointed Fran, Balthier, or Rikku weren“t implemented as playable characters. And as much as I dislike paid DLC, I would totally buy more characters to use in the game. I briefly mentioned that Theatrhythm has collectables. The main one is an album to collect cards in (called CollectaCards). There are 81 unique CollectaCards, however, if you want a 100% complete album, you“ll need 10 of each. When you collect four of one card, it will turn into a holofoil. And with seven of one card, it will turn into a super shiny platinum. Thankfully, you get plenty of CollectaCards throughout the game whenever you finish a song (especially in Chaos Shrine), so the feat of completing your album isn“t as difficult as it sounds. There are also unlockable videos to watch in theatre mode and songs to listen to in the music player. That“s self-explanatory, though. The last mode in the museum is records. Records includes your total play time, total number of chains, character usage, and so on. There are also trophies for you to achieve. There are 64 total trophies, and some are quite difficult, so those are sure to keep any completionist busy for a while. There“s so much to keep you occupied and entertained in Theatrhythm that you“ll be playing for hours on end. The replayability is sky-high! Not to mention it“s perfect for playing in short bursts. Theatrhythm was one of the most delightful gaming experiences of the year for me, and still is, since I“m aiming to unlock and achieve as much as I can. The game has also helped me rekindle a love for Final Fantasy. Now I want to go and play the games I haven“t touched or finished, like Final Fantasy IX and Final Fantasy VI (oh, if only I had the time!). I“m sure I“ve made my point now about how much I love Theatrhythm. It“s a 100% must buy for any other Final Fantasy fans out there. And even if you don“t enjoy playing the main games in the series, but adore the music and you“re a fan of rhythm games, get it anyway! You“ll love it, I promise. Pros: + Mash-up of rhythm game and RPG aspects is unique, refreshing, and extraordinarily fun + More than 70 classic Final Fantasy songs to play, with over 40 to buy as DLC + Over 13 Final Fantasy characters to unlock, as well as other collectables + The chibi art style is adorable Cons: - Expert and ultimate modes for songs not available from the start - Chaos Shrine only uses 20 of Theatrhythm“s playable songs Overall: 9.5/10 Fantastic Theatrhythm Final Fantasy is a dream come true for Final Fantasy fans and rhythm game enthusiasts. If you“re either or both, there“s absolutely no reason not to pick this game up.
  13. Cipher Peon

    Rock Band Blitz

    It's no secret that I love Harmonix. I love their games, their community team, their philosophy on gaming, and their approach to the untried and risky instead of playing it safe and by the books. Every time I hear someone curse DLC as the worst thing to happen to gaming, I shake my head and think of Harmonix, which proved that DLC can be an extremely fundamental part of gaming. Unfortunately, these high standards will cause people to look at their latest title, Rock Band Blitz, and declare it as a Audiosurf/Frequency/Amplitude/Rock Bad Unplugged rip-off. At the surface, this statement is very true. You're hitting notes using a controller and switching between lanes in order to get as many points as you can. However when looking at gaming history, Rock Band Blitz would probably be seen as the first fully fledged Facebook game. Make no mistake, this game is built for consoles, meant to be played on consoles, and Facebook isn't necessary to experience the balls out fun that Blitz has to offer. However, I STRONGLY encourage you to connect your Facebook account to the game to experience what it has to offer. If you're an antisocial individual that wants nothing to do with the social aspects of Facebook, just make an account, set it so nobody sees you, connect Blitz to it and just forget about it. Connecting your Facebook account allows you to attempt goals with friends, set up duels with friends and strangers to see who can get a higher score, set up a wishlist for DLC purchases, and track your ingame stats.There is definitely room for improvement, however. Anyone can join your goals and mooch off of your points, Score Wars aren't customizable, and you can't Score War with someone on a different console as of the time of writing. The cynic would ask why all of this information couldn't have been provided in game, which would definitely be a fair question. Some of the experience like setting up Score Wars, which could be done extremely awkwardly ingame, feels like it could have been plastered onto the game itself. However, at its core Rock Band Blitz was built as a game that uses Facebook as a foundation for its philosophy.This is made evident by the currency the game provides you after completing songs, which can be gained in large amounts after completing Facebook goals, setting up Score Wars, etc. How well Harmonix encourages you to use Facebook is beyond frightening, in less than a weekend I was already an admin in a 23 people Facebook group discussing the game and challenging one another. As one of our Rock Band regulars said "Who would have thought that a single player game would bring a community based on a multi-player game closer than said multi-player game?" Ironically, I would compare the Facebook integration to the use of guitar controllers in previous Guitar Hero titles, like Guitar Hero 3. You COULD play the game with the controller but playing on the guitar is a much more satisfying experience. It's ironic, because the gameplay in Blitz is nothing but satisfying. The game is fast paced, rewarding, and appealing as getting high scores to beat your friends and smashing goals is extraordinarily fun. I found myself going to sleep at 2 am and waking up 7 hours later just to get my Blitz fix. Unforunately, the game's problems become apparent with the gameplay. First off, this game is challenging. I never declare a game's challenge as a problem with the game unless it's well deserved (shoddy curves, improper pacing, unfair or fake difficulty, or lack of engagement), and the game's challenge feels contradictory to the audience it's trying to capture. Getting great scores is definitely not an easy task, and casuals who demand constant statements of them rocking will not be pleased with the reality of them sucking initially. The game does have a learning curve, but I feel that by the time casuals start getting good at the game, they would have already given up and gone to play something else. Another part of the gameplay that may seem off putting is the VAST amount of on screen information being thrown at you at all times. The game definitely does feel overwhelming to an onlooker as they see and endless sea of notes and only one lane to score them in. It's not a flaw, but it does feel a bit unsettling considering the audience the game is targeted towards. The game's menus share this characteristic, as every single menu is flowing with information. Seeing as there are multiple menus, each filled to the brim with text, this could definitely be seen as off-putting. Another one of the game's issues would be navigating its song sorting. Gone are the days of filters, album sorting, and ratings (the latter which I used extensively). Setlists are strangely gone as well, however the time it takes between picking songs is extremely insignificant, which always leaves to fluid song choices. The songs themselves are in small to read font, which definitely is an issue when it comes to playing with other people at parties and anybody who is used to Rock Band 3's navigation will curse their muscle memory as they'll accidentally go to another menu. Lastly, the game also doesn't save the last song/sorting from your last play which is very disappointing considering I remember this being heavily requested to be patched in Rock Band 3, going to your last song choice could remind you of the goals you were doing, and there's a specific way I like to be greeted by songs. The game also features DRM out of all things, not allowing you to gain coins if you're not connected to the Internet. It definitely feels out of place, but you can still play the core game without problems if you lose your connection. As for the 25 song list... it's very geared towards modern listeners, but they're an absolute BLAST to play on Blitz. With the exception of probably Shout and We Are Young, every song is extremely fun to play with their unique quirks to get you engaged in the game. My favorite part of the game is allowing every song to have different approaches for getting a high score. Different solutions towards the same problem allows for discussion outside the game, which is an excellent way to promote gaming culture as a whole. The variety of power-ups suits varying playstyles ranging from by the book people who take no risks in life to high rollers who would risk it all to win the big jackpot with a roll of the dice. Finding the style that suits you is extremely fun and the strategic elements can not be be missed. As a whole, the game is a fantastic value and a fantastic package for its 15 dollar price tag. With the potential of infinite replay value thanks to DLC (I have over 700 hours in Rock Band 3), goals, Score Wars, etc as well as all of the songs being immediately playable in Rock Band 3, it's amazing how much value this title has. ESPECIALLY considering song downloads are usually 2 dollars each, even if the thought of Blitz repulses you, the amount of compatibility it has with Rock Band 3 is great. However, with the amazing friends I've made thanks to this game, I couldn't give it anything less than a glowing recommendation. It might even be better than Castle Crashers. MIGHT BE. But seriously, We Are Young is awful.
  14. Developer: Sega, Xeen Publisher: Sega Platform: Nintendo 3DS Release Date: July 10, 2012 ESRB: E10+ for Everyone 10 and Older Lurking in the shadows, just a week behind the more anticipated rhythm game Theatrhythm Final Fantasy, lays a cunning thief… Rhythm Thief. Phantom R and his game almost became ghosts here in the states, too, with repeated delays and the Sega layoffs in March. It“s been a long, hard road, but Rhythm Thief & the Emperor“s Treasure was finally able to make its grand debut. And how very grand the game itself is. This seemingly unassuming rhythm game is chock-full of old-school Sega charm, and will grab hold of your attention and heart. Rhythm Thief takes place in the beautiful city of Paris, France. Our protagonist, Raphael, leads a double life as an art thief named Phantom R (his motives for stealing and later returning art are explained later on in the story). When pursuing his father, who left him when Raphael was a small child, he finds a bracelet with the same symbol as the coin that his father left him has. Soon enough, he becomes entangled with a girl named Marie, whose violin also carries that same symbol. The two young Parisians are then chased by a man claiming to be a resurrected Napoleon Bonaparte, who is seeking to rule Paris and the world with an artifact called the Dragon Crown. Raphael and his trusty canine sidekick, Fondue, work together to stop Napoleon and his cohorts; doing so to music and rhythm. Obviously, with all of that, Rhythm Thief doesn“t focus completely on being a rhythm game. There“s plenty of adventuring and moving around maps. There are even puzzle elements, though they are very simplistic and could have definitely used some more attention. Not to mention, on top of all of this, an engrossing and in-depth story that is certain to grab those that are not familiar with the rhythm genre. The game seems to take many notes from the Professor Layton series. The art style, animation, and poking around at every part of the screen for medals (instead of coins) make that very evident. Though, at the same time, Rhythm Thief puts its own spin on things and exudes a unique charm that doesn“t make it feel like a copy-cat. In any case, let“s stop rambling and talk about the main part: the gameplay! Rhythm Thief is the most fun I“ve had with a rhythm game in a long time. Sega and Xeen really put a lot of effort to make use of the 3DS“s properties and create a unique rhythm game. It“s not just tapping the screen or pressing buttons the whole time. Most of the rhythm minigames are presented in varying manners and are different from each other. In a way, it feels like a Rhythm Heaven game. Rhythm Thief even incorporates the 3DS“s gyroscope in order to make use of tilting and such in some of the rhythm minigames. It was completely unexpected when the first one that did make use of it popped up for me, but very fun (however, it could sometimes be unresponsive). Another one of my particular favorite set of minigames have you drag the stylus left and right to play Marie“s violin, presented in a way that feels similar to Guitar Hero. For the minigames, there is much help offered to those who need it and this is completely optional. Such help includes a “guide†which is usually an icon on the screen that indicates when a button needs to be pressed or stylus needs to be swiped. You can also buy items with your medals to make things easier - or more challenging!. The instructions presented before a minigame (and some puzzles) is started can sometimes be unclear, however. There was one in particular where I had absolutely no idea what was going on or what to do (it“s R31; be wary!). One of my favorite parts about Rhythm Thief is that some rhythm minigames are even themed around other Sega rhythm franchises like Space Channel 5 and Samba De Amigo. Playing a minigame that feels just like Space Channel 5, where you try to imitate the opponent“s moves, and seeing Phantom R go “chu, chu, chu!†is a real treat for those that are fans of the game. Rhythm Thief also offers bonus chapters at the end of the game, depending on whether you qualify for them or not. Finishing the “Master Instrument†and finding all the Phantom Notes are two such side-quests that need to be done to open up these new story branches. Only the most masterful rhythm thief will be able to do this, though. A lot of the sounds needed for the Master Instrument and collecting some Phantom Notes can no longer be done if you happen to miss them at a certain place at a certain time. Perhaps the most difficult chapter to unlock, however, requires you to get an “A†rank in every rhythm minigame. All of this provides a great incentive for completionists and those looking for a challenge. The gameplay of Rhythm Thief isn“t all that“s fantastic about it. The tracks used in and out of the rhythm minigames are pretty great, as they should be, and do a wonderful job of setting the mood. My absolute favorite piece of music from the game is titled “Moon Princessâ€. It“s incredibly emotional and memorable. As for voice-acting, it“s pretty nice aside from a few laughable French accents here and there. However, a noticeable problem throughout the game is that sometimes the written dialogue doesn“t match what is being audibly said. I wish a bit more attention had gone into that. The animated cutscenes are gorgeous and surprisingly well done (especially in 3D). They certainly rival the ones present in the Professor Layton series, Rhythm Thief“s probable inspiration. The scenery of Paris and other parts of France come alive with vibrant colors and details in both the cutscenes and backgrounds throughout the game. There“s just so much I love about Rhythm Thief & the Emperor“s Treasure; I could go on and on about it all day. It“s an immense amount of fun and a fabulous new IP from Sega. You can tell how much love and care went into making it and I can only wish it was getting as much attention as Theatrhythm seems to be getting. Despite that, I hope it does well enough here in North America so there“s potential for a sequel (and the ending even hints towards one, too!). Rhythm Thief definitely deserves it. Second Opinion by Jason Clement Rhythm Thief caught my eye when it was initially announced and had been on my radar before it was released, but I admit I didn't expect for it to be anything more than an Elite Beat Agents clone with a story. Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be much more than that, and also mixed with a bit of Professor Layton as well. The result is a game that's extremely clever in its rhythm game usage and has a charming story to boot. What surprised me the most about Rhythm Thief was just how well each rhythm game adapts to each circumstance in the story; you'll fight off enemy goons to a beat in one game, run along and hide behind differently colored statues to avoid detection in another, and play a violin in yet another one of more than 50 different types of rhythm games. And if that isn't impressive enough, the music absolutely nails it as well, as the soundtrack is incredibly catchy and left me wanting a physical collection of all of the songs. If there's anything that truly won me over though, it's the incredible quality of the animation during the cutscenes and throughout the story. Rhythm Thief has the best and most impressive animated cutscenes of any 3DS game to this point; there's no artifacting whatsoever and the frame-rate is seemless and never drops off. Add to that the wonderful cast of characters and a great story and Rhythm Thief has all of the makings of a great new potential franchise at hand. As Leah mentioned, let's hope this one sells well enough; it'll leave you hungering for that second installment by the end. And unless you absolutely hate rhythm games or don't own a 3DS, Rhythm Thief & the Emperor's Treasure should absolutely be on your radar as it's one of the best examples of a game that was built from the ground-up for the 3DS and succeeds because of it. Pros: + Innovative and fun rhythm minigames that make full use of the features the 3DS has to offer, such as the gyroscope + Offers adventure and puzzle elements on top of the main rhythm portion of the game + Tributes to other Sega rhythm games like Space Channel 5 and Samba De Amigo + Animated cutscenes and soundtrack are absolutely gorgeous Cons: - Directions before you start rhythm minigames are sometimes vague and unclear - In many instances, written dialogue does not match what is being audibly said Overall Score: 9 (out of 10) Fantastic Rhythm Thief & the Emperor“s Treasure is a masterpiece of a rhythm game. For those that are fans of the genre and those having even a tiny bit of interest, you need to pick up a copy of this Sega title right away.
  15. I enjoy music, like most people on Earth. But I wouldn't say I'm a music aficionado. I'm not going to go out and spend $300 on a headset because I'm not crazy, but I have been known to purchase a game soundtrack or two (dozen) when I find them for reasonable prices. I've sat and listened to hours worth of game sound tracks in my time, and I've decided to list a few of my favorites. Hopefully you'll agree with me and end up buying them yourselves. If not, then I understand. WE CAN'T ALL HAVE GOOD TASTE, I GUESS! --------------------- The Catherine OST Has Class Throughout this list, you'll probably see me mention just how difficult it was to choose one soundtrack over the other quite a number of times. And here's your first one. When deciding on Catherine's OST, I was really considering Persona 4 instead. Just watch the new opening to Persona 4: The Golden. The game's music just oozes swag. But I had to give it to Catherine this time based entirely on just how much weight the soundtrack carried through the game. Every stage was a battle and the music fit everything perfectly. Especially when the main character Vincent became more and more confident. You really felt like things were getting better when the music picked up. You should still be able to get the soundtrack if you order the game new off of Amazon, but there are no guarantees. --------------------- Jet Set Radio Gets An Update Jet Set! Jet Set! JET SET RRRRRAAAAAADDDDIIIOOOOOO! It is hard to believe, but the last major Jet Set game released over a decade ago. There are kids playing online today that think the new Jet Set Radio HD releasing soon is actually a new game series! Disgusting! When it comes to the whacky and hip soundtrack that was attached to the Jet Set series, only one other series can really compare. The incredibly strange Katamari series has always been known for their hilariously upbeat and catchy songs, but I had to give this spot to Jet Set because of the series' much anticipated revival. You see, not all of the original game's soundtracks can be brought over to the remake due to copyrights and contracts. While it is certainly a bit of a drag, you can still listen to the original tracks online at websites like Youtube. While I'm not entirely sure where you can buy a ten year old games OST, I would highly recommend buying it if you find it. --------------------- Final Fantasy XIII Smashes Final Fantasy XIII-2 I've been on a bit of a Final Fantasy binge as of late. When I start playing an RPG, I simply must complete it in one go. If I stop playing one for a week or two I'll usually forget what I'm doing and the game ends up taking me ages to complete. Because of this, I've only played Final Fantasy XIII and XIII-2 this month. In that time, I've definitely chosen a favorite OST out of the two games. Here's a hint, it isn't the one with extremely out of place heavy metal music. I don't often outright hate a soundtrack, but Final Fantasy XIII-2 has been trying really hard. Riding a chocobo? HORRIBLE "ROCK" MUSIC! Fighting a boss? MORE ROCK MUSIC! YOU AREN'T ALLOWED TO ENJOY THIS BATTLE! It isn't all bad in XIII-2 though. There are some decent tunes to be had, but nowhere near the caliber of Final Fantasy XIII's OST. The music that plays on the title screen is more memorable than any XIII-2 music I've heard, and the boss music really let you know stuff was going down while you fought. It wasn't just random jibberish being yelled into a trashcan like in XIII-2. --------------------- Metal Gear Solid 3 Is The Best The Series Has To Offer This was another really difficult choice for me. Each Metal Gear Solid game has an amazing soundtrack, and they each have their highs and their lows. Even the MGS games released released on the PSP have had amazing soundtracks too. But when it comes down to it, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater had the absolute most memorable soundtrack. Sure, most people can hum along to the series' main theme, but when it comes to the separate game themes there is no comparison. Everyone knows the Snake Eater song. Everyone. Even if the person has never heard it before, they'll be able to sing along. And then there is the ending theme. MGS4 had a pretty emotional song, but that was because it was the end of an era. MGS3 was emotional on a whole different level. Way to Fall was the perfect closer after the events of MGS3. --------------------- Silent Hill: Shattered Memories Is The End Of An Era While not everyone enjoyed Silent Hill: Shattered Memories due to it's odd departure from the usual formula that the Silent Hill series had followed up that point, there is one thing people simply cannot argue. The soundtrack was 100% Silent Hill. And that is why Shattered Memories made my list. It was the last game in the series to have a soundtrack composed by Akira Yamaoka, the man who was there since the very beginning. There were quite a few people who actually thought Silent Hill would crash and burn without him. While Silent Hill is still chugging along, it is obvious something is missing when you play Downpour. The new composer isn't bad by any means, but it is an obvious difference from past games in the series. And really, WHY DID THEY HAVE KORN DO A SONG?! WHY!? --------------------- The Honorable Mention And The Worst Of The Bunch Before I close this article out, I wanted to give a quick recommendation and a short rant. Enslaved: Odyssey to the West had an absolutely amazing soundtrack. It is a shame the game went under so many people's radar for plenty of reasons, the OST is just one of them. You really should give either the game or the soundtrack a try. Now for the rant. Just Cause 2. I recently gave this game a try after getting it for free from the Playstation Plus deal. It is fun and all, but there is literally only one or two songs in the entire game. When you're driving or flying around you need some music to listen to! I hated how I would be driving for ten minutes to some mission in complete silence. Then I would play the mission in complete silence as well. --------------------- There are plenty of other great soundtracks floating around in the world, but at the moment these are the few select soundtracks I just keep coming back to. What are some of your favorite video game OSTs? Why not mention them in the comments below? As always, thanks for reading.