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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Favorite Tunes #156: 16-Bit Power

This month marks the 25th anniversary of what is arguably Nintendo's greatest home console, the SNES. The 16-bit machine was a remarkable step up from the NES in every aspect. SNES music still impresses me to this day so music from my favorite Big N machine is taking center stage this week.

Circuit Theme B - Top Gear (SNES)

I never played any of the Top Gear games but I can remember the cover to Top Gear on the SNES as if I saw it only yesterday. That sick looking sports car surrounded by flames is a simple but oh so effective image. I've only recently heard some of the music tracks in Top Gear in it has some really cool themes that stand out. Gotta love the continuous bass in this one.

Dhalsim Stage - Street Fighter II: The World Warrior (SNES)

Yoko Shimomura did a fantastic job of writing music to represent 12 fighters from other countries. The music carried over quite well from the arcade to the SNES, with some themes sounding better than the CPS-I counterparts. Those claps, though.

Counter Hunter - Mega Man X2 (SNES)

Moving along from one Capcom game to another, X2 wasn't on the same level as the original Mega Man X, but it was still a fine effort, nonetheless. The sound font for X2 is a bit different than that of X1, and while I do believe the first X game has the better soundtrack, X2 still has plenty of memorable jams. You gotta wonder if the guitarist lost a few fingers with the intro to Counter Hunter.

Guessing Game House - The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES)

The Main Theme, Hyrule Castle, and both the Light and Dark World Dungeon themes are among the game's most memorable tracks. But some of the game's shorter music pieces have also stood out in my mind.I don't think the Zelda games have had a better mini game theme than this one.

Fire Scramble - Gradius III (SNES)

The SNES conversion of Gradius III may suffer from slowdown and flicker when too many sprites are on screen, but it is a far more forgiving game than the arcade version. The music also sounds better. Fire Scramble sounds even more intense and rich on the SNES.

Save Them! - Final Fantasy VI (SNES)

The game that got me into the Final Fantasy series is my favorite of the lot. The game has an intriguing plot, a diverse cast of characters, and some of the best music Nobuo Uematsu has written. Save Them! is one of those themes that doesn't get used often, which sucks, but the few times it does play during battles, its always a treat.

Favorite Tunes Database

Friday, August 26, 2016

Chronology: A Jazz Tribute to Chrono Trigger

All of the wonderful things I could say about Chrono Trigger have already been said countless times. The game is a 16-bit masterpiece, one of my all-time favorite games and RPGs. Chrono Trigger's soundtrack is a smorgasbord of delicious music. There have been a number of Chrono Trigger arrange albums over the years but I don't think there's ever been an entire arranged soundtrack for it dedicated to jazz. I never even thought of such  an idea. Jazz is easily one of my top 3 genres of music and I'd love to see more jazz video game arrange albums. Until the pool for it gets deeper, however, Chronology: A Jazz Tribute to Chrono Trigger will will do more than nicely.

This is OverClocked Remix's 60th album, which is quite the milestone, but it is also the The OC Jazz Collective's album debut. I'd say this group came out swinging, but that would be a massive understatement. Chronology oozes professionalism and high production values. The music on this album sounds so good that each member could easily be a jazz club performing these pieces live. Just listening to some of these tracks makes me feeling like it's late at night in a club, the lights are dimmed and The OC Jazz Collective is on stage doing their thing as people look, sipping their drinks and nodding their heads to the music.

At only eight tracks, Chronology is a rather short remix album. Considering the exceptional quality of the music, that actually bums me out a but. The run time  is under 48 minutes. It would have been great to see more themes get The OC Jazz Collective's magic touch, but when what we've been given sounds this freaking good, you really can't complain all that much. You could have a jazz lover listen to this soundtrack that isn't even familiar with Chrono Trigger and they would love it. I'll be listening to Chronology over and over again and eagerly anticipating The OC Jazz Collective's next project.

Chronology: A Jazz Tribute to Chrono Trigger

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Remix of the Week: Studiopolis Zone 16-Bit (Sega Genesis Remix)

Anyone that's foaming over Sonic Mania has one music track playing in their mind on repeat: Studiopolis Zone. That beat is such a head boper. The music that we've heard in Sonic Mania thus far echoes the tone of the early 1990s Sonic titles, so a Genesis remix seems like a natural fit. Bulby, music lover and talented arranger that he is, has crafted a Studopolis Genesis remix that is ever bit as dance worthy as the original. As is the case with everything he uploads, he's generously included a MP3 download.

Studiopolis Zone 16-Bit (Sega Genesis Remix)

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Street Fighter II: Ultimate Edition Soundtrack

My first exposure to Street Fighter was on the SNES. Capcom did a masterful job porting it to Nintendo's 16-bit baby and  I grew quite fond of the SNES renditions of what are now iconic game music tracks. Years later, I would hear the CPS-I and CPS-II versions as well as the Genesis tracks. It's quite interesting to hear how the music from Street Fighter II sounds on different hardware. Sagat's theme on the SNES really spoiled me as I could never get into CPS-I or II versions of it. Indeed I do find some versions of Street Fighter II songs better on certain hardware. If only there were some way to combine the best bits of each version into one soundtrack. And that's where Karl Brueggemann comes in.

Known for his work on the Sonicesque soundtracks, Karl has combined different portions of the arcade, SNES and Genesis version of Street Fighter II's soundtrack into what he calls the ultimate edition. It may sound like a horrible mash up idea on paper, but Karl makes it work beautifully. The only downside of an otherwise excellent soundtrack is that Cammy, T, Hawk, Fei Long and Dee Jay's themes were't given the same treatment as the initial 8 world warriors and four bosses. But I guess you can't have everything. Street Fighter II: Ultimate Edition can be yours for free.

Street Fighter II: Ultimate Edition

Monday, August 22, 2016

Favorite Tunes #155: Tide Goes Out

I didn't intend for this to be a Nintendo themed Favorite Tunes originally but as I was making the list, that's the direction it took so I decided to roll with it. We've got music from two Kirby entries, a game that never made it outside of Japan, a gone but not forgotten series and Splatoon.

Rainbow Resort - Kirby and the Rainbow Curse (Wii U)

Rainbow Resort has been a Kirby theme I've held near and dear ever since I heard it way back in 1993. One of the best things about Rainbow Curse is all the unlockable remixed music from numerous Kirby games. The Rainbow Resort remix is vastly different from what you might expect. It's rock based but still keeps that soothing feel of the original.

Staff Roll - Famicom Detective Club Part II (SNES)

Originally released only in Japan, the second Part of Famicom Detective Club was ported over to the Super Famicom with a graphical and audio overhaul. The music was already fine to begin with, but the SNES gave it an added punch. The bass guitar is far more pronounced in the SNES version and that electric guitar is killin' it.

Arabic - Kirby: Planet Robobot (3DS)

I just resumed playing this game after not having touched it in a over a month for some strange reason. I left off at the beginning of the token desert world and was greeted by this super lively Arabian-themed tune. Granted Kirby has had a history of have some truly exceptional desert music in his games (Air Ride, Return to Dream Land) but this arguably tops them. It's hard to really appreciate how grand this theme is when playing the game without a set of headphones on.

Grasp Power!- 1080 Snowboarding (N64)

I love how critics and detractors give Nintendo flack for having only a handful or franchises. In truth, Nintendo has a ton of franchises. Sadly, they don't do much or anything with most of them. Take 1080 for example. The last 1080 game we had was Avalanche on the GCN and it wasn't nearly received as well as the first game. Listening to more of 1080's music not only makes me wish more music from the series had been featured in Super Smash Bros., but for Nintendo to bring the series back.

All-Star Rest Area - Super Smash Bros. 3DS/Wii U (3DS, Wii U)

What is this? Music from the Super Smash Bros. games being featured for the umpteenth time? Who could have seen that coming? In all seriousness, Each entry in the Smash series gives us even more music than the previous games. Brawl's soundtrack was huge but Smash 4 makes it seem tiny in comparison. Even when you don't include reused songs, Smash 4 has a lot of original tunes. Nothing like relaxing after a hard fought battle in All-Star mode. Which I still need to clear with all the characters.

Tide Goes Out - Splatoon (Wii U)

To all those people that said "The next Splatfest should be Callie vs. Marie," congrats! You got your wish! Annnnd it was the last Splatfest. I guess all good things really do come to an end. The final Splatfest was a blast. Splatfest may be no more but Splatoon goes on and the game's beats are still stuck in my head. Nintendo was even kind enough to give us two new songs from the Squid Sisters. Well, if you picked up the Callie and Marie amiibos, you get them.

Favorite Tunes Database

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Super Mario Adventures Manga to be Re-Released

If you were an avid reader of Nintendo Power from 1992-1993, you were probably exposed to the Super Mario Adventures manga. Written by Kentaro Takamura and art by Charlie Nozawa, Super Mario Adventures told wacky tales of the Mario, Luigi and Yoshi's quest to save Peach from Bowser. Peach is surprisingly pretty badawesome in this manga series, taking matters into her own hands and kicking all kinds of Koopa shell. However, Mario and company's journey to rescue Peach isn't the only thing taking up pages in this manga. Mario vs. Wario was always a favorite of mine and another story had the rivals trying to one up the other by getting Peach a Samus Aran doll for her birthday.

Super Mario Adventures was one of the best inclusions of Nintendo Power in the early 1990s and I was sad to see it go. When The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past manga was re-released by VIZ Media in 2015, I had hopes that Super Mario Adventures would follow suit. After being out of print for years and going for insane prices, Super Mario Adventures will at long last be re-released for old fans and a new generation of readers to enjoy.

Super Mario Adventures will hit stores on October 11th, 2016. Published by VIZ Media, this 112 page manga will retail for $14.99. I haven't read these comics in years and I've been dying for a re-print. Sure, you can read it online, but I'm so happy to have a physical copy. It'll make a great stocking stuffer for Christmas for anyone you know that's a fan of Mario and manga.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Remix of the Week: Giant Baby Bowser Battle (Mega Man X Remix)

Welcome Remix of the Week, a feature where I feature a fan remix each week from a fellow video game music lover.

One of the greatest boss themes of all time is Baby Bowser from Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island. That theme brings the rock hard for an edge of your seat battle with the king of the Koopas in infant form. My New Soundtrack has remixed this theme using the superb Mega Man X sound font and it sounds amazing. He even threw in the Big Boss theme, so you get two killer boss tracks in one.