I don’t really like the way tumblr is setup. For a long time I’ve been thinking of migrating this whole thing to Wordpress. But then, through some refocusing of my other projects, a new idea was born: to make a game music podcast.
What better way to find out about game music than by listening, right? Scheduling is still undecided, but I’m thinking of making this a biweekly thing. Essentially, I’ll play somewhere in the ballpark of 6 or 7 songs per episode and talk about what makes them and their soundtracks great.
I have a lot of theme episode ideas in the works, but it probably won’t exclusively be setup like that. This first episode focuses on some of my favorite game soundtracks of 2011 (which I also wrote about).
I’ve already received a lot of really positive feedback over twitter, facebook, skype and other sources. I’m quite pleased with the reactions thus far. So get listening, subscribe, and leave feedback. If you like what I’ve been doing here on tumblr, it’s basically the same idea except easier to consume since you can have it on in the background while doing other things. Hurray for podcasts!
Jam of the Day: Wild Street (The King of Fighters XIII)
Having just reviewedThe King of Fighters XIII (and thus spent an entire weekend marathoning it), I couldn’t help but notice the game’s music. With games like Street Fighter IV mostly switching to hard hitting electronica (which I admittedly love in its own way), it’s nice to see The King of Fighters focus on very catchy melodies. Like the beautiful 2D art that stands out in this 3D-centric world, this soundtrack feels like it’s from a bygone era, and I mean this in the most positive way.
Of course, instrumentation and production is a bit more modern than its quarter eating predecessors, but the spirit of the arcade shines through brightly.
Jam of the Day: Stalfos (The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword)
I’ve been diving into Skyward Sword a lot lately. The fact that it doesn’t use fully orchestrated music all the time makes it all the more powerful when it does. There is a lot to be said about the game’s clever use of layering elements to the situation, especially in dungeon music.
But one of the songs that really stuck out to me was the music that plays when you encounter Stalfos knights. It sounds downright evil, but a bit playful at the same time thanks to its rhythm. And since it comes practically out of nowhere to interrupt the more ambient location music, it perfectly plays into the surprise of suddenly being trapped in a room with a midboss. I can’t wait to hear what else the game has to offer.
While Hajime Wakai is in charge of the game’s music, series veteran Koji Kondo also contributed. However, I have yet to see any individual song credits.
Jam of the Day: White Devil by Rio Hamamoto (Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Limited Edition Music Soundtrack)
I haven’t really followed the music (or games for that matter) of the Ace Combat series. But after hearing the soundtrack to Ace Combat: Assault Horizon, I think I probably should.
Assault Horizon’s score has a very full sound that’s a hybrid of full orchestral performances, heavy metal, choral sections, and even bits of electronica and world music. This diverse set of elements works fantastic together and really took me by surprise.
No single song can capture all the OST has to offer, but “White Devil” is a great example of the orchestral and metal combination at play.
Composition & Performance: Rio Hamamoto Orchestra Arrangement: Jonathan Sacks Orchestra Performance: Northwest Sinfonia
Jam of the Day: Casino Night Remix by SEGA (Sonic Generations)
I find myself actually looking forward to Sonic Generations. It’s a weird feeling. Colors was decent and the Generations demos seemed promising (minus a gripe or 2) despite my scrutinizing.
But what I’m really looking forward to is the soundtrack. Well, maybe like one third of it anyway. What I’ve heard of the modern remixes of classic songs has been pretty great so far and Casino Night (which is technically DLC of some sort) is no exception. The spirit of the original is perfectly captured while adding plenty of wonderful little tangents. It’s a real pleasure to listen to. Unfortunately, I don’t know who to credit for the arrangement at this time. I’m sure the info will be readily available after the inevitable official OST.
Jam of the Day: Setting Sail, Coming Home (End Theme) by Darren Korb (Bastion Original Soundtrack)
A testament to the quality of the Bastion soundtrack is how many people who never normally talk about video game music were begging for an official OST. In any discussion of the game, the music was always brought up. That’s something that just doesn’t seem to happen outside of niche, game music enthusiasts.
"Setting Sail, Coming Home" combines two vocal tracks ("Build That Wall" and "Mother, I’m Here") from some of the most powerful moments earlier in the game into something new for the ending theme. It works beautifully and still sends chills down my spine when I hear it.
The year’s not over yet, but at this point I still don’t think anything is standing in Bastion’s way for being my soundtrack of the year.
Jam of the Day: Rockman X Opening Stage by ROCK-MEN (We are ROCK-MEN!)
You can’t swing a bat without hitting a thousand remixes from the original Mega Man series. Strangely enough, that isn’t the case with the offshoots. That’s a real shame since (for the most part) they have music that’s often just as good and occasionally better.
The first Mega Man X in particular is one of my all-time favorite soundtracks. It’s pretty rare that it gets any love in the remix scene, and when it does it’s almost exclusively Storm Eagle.
Fortunately, the ROCK-MEN gave Mega Man X the proper treatment with a couple tracks on their recently released We are ROCK-MEN album. Their take on the game’s opening stage is exactly what I wanted to hear. It takes the high energy of the source and adds some original flair without abandoning what made the song great in the first place. The entire album is great, so much so that I’d argue it might just be the best Mega Man album out there (and there are lot).
Jam of the Day: Song of the Ancients / Devola ~ Song of the Ancients / Popola by sasakure.UK (NieR Tribute Album -echo-)
I haven’t really had time to keep this blog active lately. Hopefully that will change again.
The NieR Tribute album just released this month and it has some truly great stuff on it. It shouldn’t really come as any surprise since the source material was already incredible. Still, tribute albums from various artists can be a gamble.
I always love when a remix completely changes the tone of a track and turns it into something new. It can be especially fascinating on vocal tracks like this one.
Jam of the Day: Stream of Lights by Hiroshi Okubo (RIDGE RACER 3D direct audio)
I haven’t followed the Ridge Racer games very closely, but I almost always enjoy the soundtracks. They’re full of energetic, occasionally chaotic electronica that’s really fun to listen to both in and out of a race.
I did actually pick up Ridge Racer 3D when I first got my 3DS and Stream of Lights in particular really stood out to me as a fun song. Hiroshi Okubo does good work. If you ever get the chance, check out his music on the Nanosweep albums.
Jam of the Day: Norfair (Brawl Version) by Yuzo Koshiro (Super Smash Bros. Brawl Soundtrack)
I’ve been writing a lot about Metroid music this week. Not just here, but in a long form piece I wrote on the series’ music as well. But hey, somebody’s gotta celebrate Metroid’s 25th anniversary if Nintendo won’t.
This remix comes from the Brawl soundtrack courtesy of Yuzo Koshiro (Streets of Rage, Actraiser). Norfair’s theme in the original Metroid has always been a strange tune. Koshiro’s take on it does a good job of modernizing it without losing the original weirdness of Hirokazu Tanaka’s version. Yet another great arrangement from the Brawl soundtrack.