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Saturday, May 19, 2018

Favorite Tunes #227: In the Wind

Arcade music, PC, SNES music and some modern console offerings are the order of the week for Favorite Tunes.

Labyrinth (Alternate) - Space Megaforce (SNES)
Known as Super Aleste in Japan. Also known as a super expensive game on the second hand market, which is why I'd love to see this one get a re-re-release via digital. If you've played Space Megaforce and were wondering why you never heard this beat that's because it wasn't in the western release, but was a Japan exclusive.

Dancing Horming (Bonus A) - Metal Black (ARC)
What's this? A song from Metal Black that isn't Dual Moon? Yes, that is my absolute favorite track from Metal Black, but the entire soundtrack to this game is awesome. I recently made a Zuntata playlist and added quite a few songs from this game. And in case you're wondering, no, I did not misspell the title. According to the back of the official 1992 soundtrack, that is exactly what it is called.

Pomp and Circumstance - Sonic After the Sequel (PC)
Before Sonic Mania was "the best Sonic game Sonic Team didn't make" it was Freedom Planet and sometime before that it was Sonic After the Sequel. In all seriousness, you haven't played either of those two aforementioned games, you really should. After the Sequel has music on par with that of Sonic Mania. You'd think this was a level theme but no, its a menu jam.

Start Demo & Main Theme - Bubble Bobble (ARC)
Another game featuring music by the very talented ZUNTATA? I actually posted the Main Theme to Bubble Bobble 2 on the NES some time ago. I'm a bit surprised it has taken me this long to cover such a well known, iconic piece of ZUNTATA music in its original form. Once you hear it, you can't unhear it.

In the Wind - Gradius III (ARC)
The SNES port was my introduction into the Gradius series. Gradius III on the arcade certainly plays better than the home version but the sheer difficulty of the co-op version is enough to turn away even the most hardcore of fans. The SNES version is merciful in that it gives you a few continues once you use up all your lives. Still, the arcade version's music is top notch stuff.

Last Surprise - Persona 5 (PS3, PS4)
I wanted to get around to playing Persona 5 when it came out but I just never did. Even without having played the game, the massively popular Last Surprise was too big to escape my notice. This disco inspired vocal number has quickly become one of the most well known Persona tracks even to those that haven't played Persona 5.

Favorite Tunes Database

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Final Fantasy VI: World's Requiem

The Pixel Mixers. I've made it no secret that I am a very, very huge fan of the work these guys put out. Granted, it is only May, but they've already managed to make my ears stand up with The Green (Greens) Album and F-ZERO - Boost Power!, the later of which was the previous contender for the top spot of my favorite albums they've released in 2018. That all changed on May 2nd. This is the day they dropped the mother of all music bombs. They've released several Final Fantasy albums, but they haven't covered my favorite game in the franchise, Final Fantasy VI. Until now. If you don't have time to read the in depth details, I'll lay it out for you as I close out this intro paragraph. Final Fantasy VI: World's Requiem is one of the best Final Fantasy VI arrangements and you should be listening to it right this very second.

When I initially found out about this album, I feared only select tracks from Final Fantasy VI would be covered. The soundtrack of Final Fantasy VI has always spanned three discs with each physical release. I had no doubt I'd love this album even if it only covered specific tracks, but this is the music of Final Fantasy IV we're talking about. If any Final Fantasy soundtrack deserved to have each and every track arranged, it is the score to this game. Thankfully, World's Requiem covers each and every track from Final Fantasy VI. From the chilling Omen all the way to the magnificent Ending Theme, the Pixel Mixers have undertaken the mammoth task of covering every track in Final Fantasy VI's stellar soundtrack.

As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, this album is SO GOOD! If I'm going to choose a jump on point to discuss the arrangements, I suppose I'll start with The Mines of Narshe. The original theme has always been one of my favorite pieces of town music not just in the Final Fantasy series, but for RPGs in general. The Pixel Mixers arrangement of this theme fuses an amazing violin performance with occasional plucks from the banjo and of course, you gotta have that piano work, which is all kinds of awesome here. 

Final Fantasy VI's Battle Theme may not be my favorite standard FF battle jam, but I still like it a lot. The Pixel Mixers rock out with the theme here and it is indeed a head banger of a good time. As the song approaches the two minute mark, you start to hear pieces from past FF battle themes mixed in, including battle themes from Final Fantasy II and Final Fantasy V before resuming Final Fantasy VI's standard battle music. It was a totally unexpected but a very welcome callback.

There's a wonderful assortment of rock in World's Requiem and even some metal. None of the tracks feel samey, though. One track I was not expecting to get the rock/metal treatment, however was Edgar & Sabin. I'm not sure what I was expecting since the original tune is heavy on the horns and brass. The horns have been traded in for some sick guitar riffs and excellent drum beats and I am more than perfectly OK with this. If I had to pick a single track as my favorite from this album, it is without a doubt, the arrangement of Edgar & Sabin. I can't even remember how many times I've listened to it on repeat or had it playing in my head at work. The track was already godlike at the start but at 2:41, there's this outstanding guitar solo that goes on until 3:24. My word, what a freaking track!

If you favor other genres, fret not as World's Requiem is full of variety. The Returns and Shadow, are jazz inspired and I have to say, their version of the former theme just might one up Nobou Uematsu's original. Devil's Lab retains its industrial feel, The Serpent Trench gets a heavy helping of synth as a saxophone chimes in from time to time.

Really, I haven't even scratched the surface of how fantastic this album is. These are some of the best arrangements of Final Fantasy VI music that you will ever hear. I say that as someone that has listened to this album multiple times since downloading it well over a week ago. That's how good this baby is. And the Pixel Mixers just give this stuff away? The kindness of these fellows is too much. Anyway, download this album and listen to it over and over again as you drool with anticipation for whatever the next project is that they bring out.

Final Fantasy VI: World's Requiem 

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Favorite Tunes #226: Mango

What does Street Fighter, Final Fantasy, Fantasy Zone and F-ZERO have to do with this week's Favorite Tunes? Yeah, that's a stupid question because I wasn't sure what to write for this week's intro. 

Omen - Final Fantasy VI (SNES)
Years ago, I relucantly rented Final Fantasy VI from Blockbuster Video (to give you an idea of how long ago that was) because they didn't have Mega Man 7 in. When I booted the game up and was greeted with this overwhelmingly powerful piece, I knew I was in for something special. This track  combines several themes into including FFVI poster girl, Terra.  

I think this is the third or fourth rendition of Guile's theme I've posted in Favorite Tunes. The Genesis sound chip does a good job of making the music sound a bit more like the CPS-I audio that the SFII was based off of, though Guile's theme does sound a key or two higher here. Still, this is a fine version of flat top's jam. 

Back in the early 1990s, the original F-ZERO was given a killer arranged album simply titled F-ZERO and like all the cool stuff, it was only released in Japan. While rock is heavily associated with F-ZERO music, this was a full blown jazz album.

How's the latest patch for this game treating you all? Maybe that's a question I shouldn't ask. Well, we've finally got a theme from DBFZ that isn't a character theme or a level track. Main Menu themes really don't get enough love. 

This Mega Drive version of Fantasy Zone was unavailable to gamers in the west until it was released on the Wii's Virtual Console. The soundtrack was not done by Hiroshi Kawaguchi, but rather Naoki Kodaka who turned in some really good Fantasy Zone tracks.  

Since we've reached the end of another Favorite Tunes, let's close it out with a staff roll song. Like the Tekken series, when the EX titles came home, they recieved a few extras not found in the arcade versions such as more modes and of course, remixed music. When it came to the original EX, the PS arranged tunes were vastly superior to the arcade tracks. However, the arcade tunes of EX2 are so good that they rival that of the arranged tracks. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Re-Releases You Should Play Part 4

This sister series of Much Needed Re-Releases is finally back after a break that lasted far too long. With all the great new releases coming in 2018, make sure you don't forget to revisit these old favorites. Or in some people's cases, they just might be playing these games for the first time.

Dangun Feveron (PS4, XBO)
A shooter with disco music? No way something like that can be real. And yet it is. Released way back in 1998, Cave's Dangun Feveron has finally be released outside of Japan via digital distribution. Just as the case was with Battle Garegga Rev. 2016, Dangun Feveron comes loaded with M2 Gadgets and four soundtracks, allowing you to customize your experience. It isn't a long game by any means (most games in this genre are quite short after all) but Dangun Feveron is so engaging that you're more than likely to do several play throughs in a single setting. You can choose from three fighter types and three power shots. For ships, I prefer type-B for the wide shot since there is rarely a moment where something in this game isn't trying to kill you and there is no shortage of bullets on the screen. Lock on is also a good choice for obvious reasons and while bomb and roll are interesting, they take some skill and patience to use. Regardless, I do like the weapon variety and that they can be paired up anyway you see fit. At $34.99 this might be a bit too pricey for some. Personally, I've been having a blast with this game so it was worth every penny.

Also available on: ARC

Danmaku Unlimited 3 (NS)
This was my first entry into the Danmaku Unlimited games and I came away very pleasantly surprised. As much as I love SHMUPs, bullet hell shooters tend to make me a bit uneasy. This one caters to both newbies and vets, with a modes for beginners as well as more experienced players. Even on the easy setting, Danmaku Unlimited 3 throws a lot of bullets at you but evading them isn't nearly as difficult as you might think. With the graze mechanic that gives you extra points for placing yourself in harms way, there's some incentive to go in the direction the bullets are flying. This is the only SHMUP were I constantly try to get as close to enemy fire as I can. There are no power ups to collect so you never have to worry about your ship being in a weakened state. You can mix and match between different two different weapon setups and while you beam is way powerful and great against bosses, it slows down your ship considerably. The Switch is already full of SHMUPs and Danmaku Unlimited 3 stands among the cream of the crop.

Also available on: PC

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze (NS)
This outstanding 2D platformer sold like mud cakes on the Wii U. Given the runaway success of the Switch, it is no surprise that the sales for the later version have already surpassed that of the former version. If you've never played Tropical Freeze, prepare yourself for vibrant, imaginative, challenging levels and bosses. Some folks are miffed at the $60 price tag considering you can get this on the Wii U for $20. By all means, snag Tropical Freeze if you didn't have a Wii U or if you want to play this amazing platformer anywhere.

Also available on: Wii U

#Breakforcist Battle (NS)
You can pay a little less to play this on your iOS or Android device, but the Switch version comes with four player multiplayer. #Breakforcist is another Arkanoid Clone but with the blocks you have to break descending upon you faster with each passing wave, there's more pressure to destroy them before the end your run. Certain blocks yield different power ups. Hit a bomb and it will send the blocks back upwards a bit, buying you more time. Get a bacon laser to blast blocks with ease. This a simple, fun game that is tough to master and will make you yearn for the return of a trackball controller. Still, even without one, #Breakcorcist Battle is well worth having in the morning or whatever time you prefer to have breakfast.

Also available on: iOS, AND

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Favorite Tunes #225: Some Techno Soft Love

Three of the six games featured in this week's Favorite Tunes come from Techno Soft games. If you've never heard of them, they are famous for the Thunder Force SHMUP series, among other franchises. 

Thunder Force II isn't the game most fans think of when they think of the Thunder Force series due to it being quite different from the rest of the games in the series. Even so, the music is just as good as the other games. The Genesis version of Thunder Force II's soundtrack is really good but when it comes to the song Ray of Hope, I have to give the nod to the X68000 version.
Hello Mr. Cyborg - Dangun Feveron (ARC)

The system did little to put a dent in the sales of The Genesis and SNES, the PC-Engine still enjoyed a host of quality titles and thanks to the Wii's Virtual console service, a few of those games were brought to a wider audience. The soundtrack is sure to have you headbanging in no time at all.

Hello Mr. Cyborg - Dangun Feveron (ARC)
If it weren't for the swarms of bullets on the screen, I'd be cutting a rug to this game's outrageously good tunes. Dangun Feveron is a Cave bullet hell shooter with a disco soundtrack. Several tracks will remind you of famous western disco hits. Under the M2 Shot Triggers line, Dangun Feveron was released for the first time outside of Japan digitally on the PS4 and XBO. 

There is No Time to Lose - Herzog Zwei (GEN)
Now here's a track that sounds like it could be in a Thunder Force game. Not only is Herzog Zwei a Techno Soft title, but it also shares a composer, Tomomi Otani, who is known for his work on the Thunder Force titles.

Acid Hues - Splatoon 2 (NS)
I finally started playing Splatoon 2 and it has taken me some time to adjust. The map on the Game Pad is something I really miss but I love the new gear and the Autobomb is one of my new favorite sub weapons. Since I started playing just in time for a new Splatfest, I got to hear a few of the new Splatfest jams and as much as I love Ink Me Up from the first Splatoon, I can't knock the Splatfest beats in Splatoon 2.

Also known as Lightening Force over here in America, which is odd since Thunder Force II as well as Thunder Force III were brought over here to the Genesis under their original names. If you missed the chance to play this excellent shooter, it is one of the games that will be releases on the Switch version of the SEGA Ages collection. There are a number of great tracks I could have selected but I chose to go with this one, which is the demo ranking theme. Since I was terrible at Thunder Force IV, I would watch the demo and it was always followed up by this tune. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

May Madness

Let us have  moment of silence for the dearly departed. We morn the loss of a friend which made our lives ever so much easier. Yes, we will truly, truly miss our wallet.

If you haven't peeked at the number of releases for games coming out this month, boy let me tell you, it is one serious dozy. Even without taking into account every single game coming out for May, the number of releases that have grabbed my interest is almost too much for my poor wallet to handle. Made worse by the fact that some of these games all drop on the same day.

Dark Souls Remastered (PS4, XBO, PC) - May 25th

While I am still salty at the Switch version of this game getting delayed as it is the version I still plan on getting, Dark Souls Remastered is still slated for release on all other platforms in late May and plenty of folks are still looking forward to it. Even those that have not touched Dark Souls are aware of it thanks to meems and the "Prepare to Die" tagline. Vets will probably be fine but noobs, well, you've heard of the phrase "Live and learn," right? Substitute  "Die" for "Live" and that will probably be you first few days with Dark Souls Remastered as you explore, fight bosses and try in vain to flee for your life from your latest nightmare fuel. Just use some common sense and some of those deaths can be avoided.

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze (NS) - May 4th

Wii U owners have probably played this one back in 2014, but the Switch install base has already managed to surpass Nintendo's previous home console's life time. Basically, a lot of Switch owners will be getting down with the DK crew's tropical adventure for the first time. Some bemoan all the ports the Switch is getting (which is odd since the PS4 and XBO were loaded with ports when they first arrived years ago) but the portable factor of the Switch makes the ports all the more appealing. And getting one of the finest 2D platformers and quite possibly the greatest DKC game (yes, even eclipsing Diddy's Kong Quest) to play at home or anywhere is a huge deal. Tropical Freeze's levels will awe you, wow you and frustrate you. There is zero shame in going to the game's shop to stock up on lives and items to make your life a little easier because Tropical Freeze will kick you in the junk. Repeatedly. If you're the short tempered type, I'd advise against playing this game in handheld mode. Funky Mode will make things easier for new players, being able to take more damage than the other Kongs.

Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition (NS) - May 18th

Released on the Wii U with a TON of content from the get-go then given a host of DLC. Then the game was released on the 3DS with extra content. As the name suggests, this is the Definitive Edition of Hyrule Warriors as it contains all of the content from the Wii U and 3DS versions of Hyrule Warriors. This was my first time playing a Dynasty Warriors game and I really enjoyed it. They may not be overly complex, but there's some so gratifying about running around a field and laying waste to swarms of enemies. Doing so with the cast from The Legend of Zelda series was a huge draw for me and I'm looking forward to slicing fools up as Toon Link. Also Midna is a beast in this game.

Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection (PS4, XBO, NS, PC) - May 31st

It's easy to bag on Capcom these days but every so often they do right by gamers. The Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection is one such right. If you're gonna celebrate the 30th anniversary of the most influential fighting series of all time, then this is how you do it. 12 Street Fighter games all in one. Games include the craptastic original Street Fighter, the infinitely superior Street Fighter II, Street Fighter II' Hyper Fighting, my favorite of the Alpha titles, Street Fighter Alpha 3 and Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike. Some of the most popular entries such as 3rd Strike, Hyper Fighting, Super Turbo and Alpha 3 feature online play. Whether you're a hardcore or casual fan, this is one Street Fighter anniversary you will not want to miss.

Mega Man Legacy Collection 1 + 2 (NS) - May 22nd

*Sigh* Capcom. You had one job. Just put the both Mega Man Legacy Collection titles on a single 32 GB Switch game card. Yet, because Capcom has to be Capcom, they had to make Legacy Collection one a physical game and Legacy Collection 2 a digital download. There are not enough face palm gifs in the world to expression my irritation at Capcom's idiocy. Regardless, I'm still looking forward to the Mega Man Legacy Collection 1 + 2 on the Switch. Having classic Mega Man games on a Nintendo system just feels right. I mean, get to play Mega Man with the Pro Controller? Oh that is just the best.

Owlboy (PS4, NS) - May 29th

Owlboy has been out digitally for some time now. However, us folks that crave physical media are stroked for the hard copy. A game nearly 10 years in the making, Owlboy casts you as the mute hero Otus, flying about and meeting new characters that aid you in combat and puzzle solving. The game won't take you too long to run through but Owlboy gives you plenty of air space to soar and pixel art style is gorgeous, sporting a more SNES-like visual look as opposed to the overused NES-era retro inspired titles. Xbox One owners wanting a physical Owlboy have sadly gotten the short end of the stick.

Steamworld Dig 2 (PS4, NS) - May 22nd

Lovers of physical media and Steamworld Dig 2, your prayers have been answered. Never played  either of the Steamworld titles? Think Dig Dug meets Metroid. Mine the vast underground, uncovering new locals, buy gear and power up your digger. A simple, old-school game at it's core but still plenty of fun. Since I never got around to downloading this when it intentionally released, I'll be grabbing a physical copy.

SEGA Genesis Classics (PS4, XBO) - May 29th

Do we really need yet another Genesis/Mega Drive compilation? Seeing as how AT Games efforts are so poor, yes, yes, an resounding YES! More than 50 games are going to be on the SEGA Genesis Classics anthology including the entire Genesis Shinobi Trilogy, Sonic the Hedgehog 1-3 as well as some titles that were not on the previous Genesis collection such as ToeJam & Earl, ToeJam & Earl: Panic on Funcotron, Gunstar Heroes and Alien Storm. Numerous setting let you tinker with screen resolution or recreate those old CRT scan lines that all the cool compilation releases are using these days. You also get a really cool user interface that'd designed as a gamer's room complete with a SEGA posters on the walls and shelf storing all of the games in this collection. For $30, this game is an absolute steal.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Favorite Tunes #224: Industria

April is nearly outta here and crazy video game releases for May are almost upon us. Hopefully the April weather has treated you well because for us here in Virginia, it's been a bit of a mixed bag, hardly ever feeling like spring. For the last of April's Favorite Tunes, we've got music from one of my new favorite SHMUPs, Kirby's latest adventure and some Mega Man, but not the Blue Bomber you're expecting.

Airspace - Danmaku Unlimited 3 (PC, NS)

The Switch is loaded with SHMUPs so if you love that genre like me, you will not be disappointed. A PC release in 2017, Danmaku Unlimited 3 came to the Switch last month and it is well worth your time and money. This bullet hell shooter can be enjoyed by novice and vets alike and the rocking soundtrack by BLANKFIELD is nothing short of awesome.

INDUSTRIA (Remind Remix) - Rage Racer 20th Remix

In 2014, SuperSweep released a Ridge Racer 20th Anniversary Remix album, covering various games in the series, including Rage Racer. Last year, the same publisher rolled out a 20th anniversary album dedicated solely to Rage Racer. Of the many games in the Ridge Racer series, Rage Racer was the last one I expected to get super special treatment, but I love that game and the music from it, so I ain't complaining. The Industria is hands down my favorite track in that game and the this remix sounds pretty close to the original but has some subtle differences.

Digital Strider - Mega Man Battle Network 6: Cybeast Falzar (GBA)

The music of Mega Man Battle Network 6 was recently brought back to my attention thanks to +TEK's wonderful FM Arrangement Project. Central Town and Battle Field were always stand out tracks in my mind, but I'd forgotten just how good the rest of the soundtrack was. It certainly was a huge step up after Battle Network 4's disappointing soundtrack.

Title Screen - #Breakforcist (iOS, AND, NS)

Breakout may have been the father of blocking breaking, but Taito's Arkanoid, which added weapons and power ups to your paddle, really blew the doors off. Original an Android game, #Breakforcist made it's way to the Switch a few weeks ago under the title #Breakforcist Battle, allowing up to four players to battle to save breakfast. It's a pretty dang good Breakout clone with some funky beats.

Honey Hills (Forest Area) - Kirby Star Allies (NS)

I know Star Allies isn't the greatest Kirby game but calling it trash or saying it sucks is quite the stretch. I do think $60 is asking a bit too much, however. $40 would have been a more reasonable price point. Having said all that, even for the lofty standards of a Kirby game, the soundtrack to this one is absolutely amazing. From the new tracks to the arranged material, there is plenty here to leave you in awe.

Fossil Falls (8-bit) - Super Mario Odyssey (NS)

Selling 3 million copies in just a matter of days, Super Mario Odyssey is not only one of the best selling games on the Switch but the fast selling Super Mario game. The game is probably already in the double digits as of this post. I've already completed the game but I still fire it up to hunt for more moons, and hide balloons while I (im)patiently wait for Nintendo to give me my dang Frog Suit. Best 8-bit rendition of Odyssey's music? You betcha!

Favorite Tunes Database