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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Sonic Before the Sequel '12 Original Sound Track

Masato Nakamura, Jun Senoue, Richard Jacques, Tomoya Ohtani, Naofumi Hayata, Fumie Kumatani, Kenichi Toki. These people are music writing geniuses, responsible for giving Sonic the Hedgehog and company some of the most soothing, rocking, head bopping music. Recently, another name was added to the ranks of Sonic music legends: Tee Lopes. The music he wrote for Sonic Mania has more than earned him a spot along side the Sonic music writing greats. Falk, Andy Tunstall, KgZ and Funk Fiction may not have had official gigs for writing Sonic music, but after hearing their work on Sonic Before the Sequel, I think SEGA would be wise to hire all of them or keep them in mind for future Sonic projects.

Sonic Before the Sequel is a fan game that released in 2011, playing very much like the Genesis 2D Sonic titles. While there are a plethora of Sonic fan games and ROM hacks out there, Before the Sequel easily rates among one of the best. However, I'm not here to talk about the game. No, I'm here to discuss the game's soundtrack, which is easily on par with official Sonic game soundtracks.

Before the Sequel may play like the Genesis Sonic games, but the music takes inspiration from both the classic and modern era of Sonic games. The result is a soundtrack that listens like a wonderful merging of both Sonic's musical worlds. There's a lot of funk on this soundtrack and it is super catchy. You'd think some of these tracks were written by Jun Senoue as some of the more guitar heavy tracks sound like they came from the Dreamcase games and beyond. Some tracks contain arrangements from official Sonic songs like You Can Do Anything and Hidden Palace and Sweet Mountain from Sonic CD, Sonic 2 and Sonic Colors respectively.

Being a fan game, the Sonic Before the Sequel '12 Original Sound Track is, like the game itself, a free download. I've been jamming out to this baby for over a week now and if you're one of the five Sonic fans that hasn't heard this soundtrack, you really should. Or even if you aren't a Sonic fan and just want some good tunes to listen to, this score comes highly recommended. Yes, I am super late to the party giving this soundtrack a write up. But hey, people are giving five and ten year old games reviews, so it should never be too late to gush over a splendid Sonic fan soundtrack. If you're still on the fence about giving this excellent soundtrack a download, I've embedded the entire soundtrack via YouTube below, but I'm certain that after a track or two, you'll want this (unless you're some kinda weirdo). Below that is a link to the soundtrack as well as the game.

Sonic Before the Sequel Game and Soundtrack Download

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Favorite Tunes #197: To Be This Good Takes Ages

As I was going through the happening Studiopolis Zone Act 1 in Sonic Mania, I came across one of SEGA's old advertising slogans: To be this good takes Ages. Ages spelled backwards is, of course, SEGA. I've been wanting to do another SEGA focused Favorite Tunes for a while now and perhaps what I saw in Studiopolis was a sign. Get it? I'll jut let myself out.

Stardust Speedway Act 1 - Sonic Mania (PS4, NS, XBO, PC)

I'm not going to mince words: I hate Stardust Speedway. Outside of the killer music in both the JP/EUR and USA soundtrack and the Metal Sonic race, the zone is not fun to play in Sonic CD. Kind of a shame too, because I love the look of the zone. The Zone is a bit more tolerable in Sonic Mania, but I'd be lying if I said I enjoyed bouncing back and forth through those springs and tubes. Thanks to sexy beast Tee Lopes, the music for Stardust Speedway Act 1 is wonderful R&B that will melt your ears.

World 3 (Under the Ocean) - Super Monkey Ball 2 (GCN)

It is so nice of SEGA to give that speedy blue hedgehog and Yakuza attention but I'd love for my favorite monkeys to come back. You just don't know what fun and frustration feels like until you tilted a monkey encased in a ball to get him/her to the goal. If you owned a GameCube, the Super Monkey Ball titles were a must and blue boy isn't the only SEGA animal critter with sick beats.

Take Back - Galaxy Force II (ARC)

Galaxy Force II is on the Genesis but it doesn't hold a candle to the arcade version. The game uses SEGA's famous super scaler technology like Space Harrier, Super Hang-On and Out Run. If you want to check out a masterful port of the arcade version you can grab it off the 3DS eShop. But if you want it in physical for, pick up a copy of SEGA 3D Classics Collection on the 3DS. While you're shooting everything that moves you'll be jamming out to the game's catchy soundtrack.

Gigantic Fleet - Panzer Dragoon Orta (XB)

Do you like shooters? I like shooters. Scratch that, I love shooters. Flying around in a ship, shooting stuff down is cool and all how but how can you make that better? Riding on a dragoon, shooting stuff down. Toss in dragoons and you game is ten times cooler. It worked for Final Fantasy IV. I would love for SEGA to re-release Orta since I never got the chance to play it. If the music I've heard is any indication, I really missed out on something special.

VS. Metal Sonic (US ver.) Remix - Sonic Forces (PS4, XBO, NS, PC)

Sonic Forces is looking pretty legit with the tag team gameplay and the return of the boost formula. The game is looking to have a somewhat darker storyline with Eggman having succeeded in taking over the world. He's also brought back a few of Sonic's worst enemies like fan favorite, Metal Sonic. I enjoy the US soundtrack of Sonic CD and it's nice to see SEGA giving it more love. Hearing this Metal Sonic remix it making it harder to resist searching out more Sonic Forces music.

Last Wave - Out Run (ARC)

As is the case with Galaxy Force II, if you want to play an extremely good version of Out Run, you can find 3D Out Run on the 3DS eShop. Unfortunately, this one isn't bundled with a compilation of other SEGA titles. At least not yet. Out Run may only have a handful of tunes, but the quality over quantity is undeniably strong here.

Favorite Tunes Database

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

5 Games to Look Forward to Towards the End of 2017

With a little less than four months to go, 2017 is almost on the way out. We've been treated to titles great titles like Yakuza 0, Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Blaster Master Zero, and Sonic Mania to name a few. It has been a fantastic year for gaming. But just because 2017 is nearly over doesn't mean we've seen every worthwhile game the year has to offer. There are plenty of titles coming out as 2017 draws to a close but these are five that really stand out to me.

01. Cuphead (XBO, PC)

I'm a sucker for games with a unique visual style. In a sea of games with gorgeous sprites, cel-shading and other jaw droppingly beautiful games, Cuphead still manages to stand out from the crowd. You've probably heard the phrase about how some games look like "a cartoon brought to life." Well, Cuphead is quite possibly the most cartoonish looking game on the planet, looking like old theatrical shorts. It's as if someone removed Mickey Mouse's head, replaced it with a cup, gave him a firearm and tossed him into an even more chaotic environment where everything wants to kill him. This old-school run and gun game is similar to Metal Slug but on a major acid trip. With that in mind, Cuphead is not for the gamer looking for a Sunday stroll. Those that don't mind a game that routinely kicks their teeth in will keep coming back for more. Shown off a few years ago, Cuphead will finally be releasing on September 29th.

02. Sonic Forces (XBO, PS4, NS, PC)

I love Sonic Mania but all this talk that it's "the first good Sonic game since 1994" is pure bull. There have been plenty of good Sonic games following the release of Sonic 3 & Knuckles. Two of the best ones were Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations, released in 2010 and 2011 respectively. Sonic Forces has not only been in development for three years, the longest period for any Sonic game, but it is also being made by the same team that handled Colors and Generations. Forces will pit Modern Sonic, Classic Sonic and a custom character up against Eggman, the new baddie Infinite and slew of other bad news from Sonic's past in what is looking to be, story wise, a much darker Sonic game. For those that love the insane high speed thrills of Modern Sonic, the boost gameplay is making a return. 2D fans can get their fix with Classic Sonic's stages and there's also tag team stages, which pairs your avatar character with Modern Sonic. Sonic Forces' stages look fast and fun, the game looks amazing and from the music released so far, the soundtrack is sure to be another winner. Throw in a $40 price tag and you've got another Sonic game to be excited about. You can join the resistance on November 7th.

03. Metroid: Samus Returns (3DS)

There have been numerous fan remakes of Metroid II: Return of Samus over the years, but at long last, Nintendo is finally giving us an official remake of the game in the form of Metroid: Samus Returns. Not just Metroid II with a new coat of paint, Samus Returns will give Samus new abilities, new areas to explore and as well as a bit more story details that you won't have to look into a manual to explore, though the story of the game is as simple as it gets: Samus commits genocide to the Metroid species. One of the coolest things about the original Metroid II was that you had a set number of Metroids to hunt down. These weren't your garden variety extra terrestrials as each one you hunt down gets more violent and savage than the last and I cannot wait to see how the remake approaches every encounters with these nasty critters. Strap on your power suit and get ready for plenty of exploration and action this Friday when Metroid: Samus Returns hatches.

04. Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony (PS4, Vita, PC)

For those not in the know, the Danganronpa games are a series of visual novel murder mystery titles in a high school setting with very heavy anime influences. The game is split into two different types of play, school life and class trial. In school life you move around the school and advance the plot and learn more about your classmates. In class trial, the students openly discuss who the murderer could be. It is on you to look for inconsistencies with character's stories to piece together who the culprit is. It isn't a standard trial, however, as you'll use truth bullets to shoot down false statements and timed button presses to unlock the truth. New to Danganronpa V3 includes mass panic debate, in which finding the correct statement is tougher because characters talk over each other along with some new mini games to find the truth. You can get in on the anime style murder mystery on September 26th.

05. Super Mario Odyssey (NS)

In 2017 alone Nintendo has already launched some pretty heavy hitters for the Switch. Breath of the Wild, Splatoon 2,  ARMS among them. And the Big N still isn't finished. Next month will mark the glorious return to sand box style Mario gameplay with Super Mario Odyssey. Mario is off on his biggest adventure yet, to stop the wedding of Bowser and Princess Peach. Joining him is his newest ally Capy, a sentient hat that when thrown, can give Mario the power to posses just about anything. You can take control of the citizens of New Donk City, a taxi and numerous enemies. You can even be a freaking T-rex! This is the kinda games that looks like it is dripping, gushing with fun all over and I am salivating to get my grubby, long fingered hands on it. Mark your calendars for October 27th, the day where we can at long last do the odyssey.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Favorite Tunes #196: Brought to You by the Letter S

Yes, yes, I am fully aware that this Favorite Tunes is up on a Sunday. The reason for this is because I already had a post made out for Saturday and I didn't want to do two posts in one day. So, the weekly selection of music got bumped to Sunday.

Swampy Caverns - Super Metroid (SNES)

Are you ready for Samus to jump back into action next Friday? I can't wait to pick up my copy of Metroid: Samus Returns and see just how much the game improves upon the original. I wouldn't mind seeing a remake of Super Metroid but many would make the argument that the game really doesn't need it. I find this piece of music to be chilling, yet relaxing.

Into the Thick of It - Secret of Mana (SNES)

In case you haven't heard, Secret of Mana is getting a much deserved remake that will release next year. The game was a SNES favorite of mine and it's nice to see it get included on the SNES Classic Edition. Pity that many probably won't be able to get their hands on one, but forget that noise and listen to this exquisite track. There are dozens of other greats in this wonderful game.

Ocean Palace - Sonic Heroes (GCN, PS2, XB, PC)

As I sit down to write out this week's Favorite Tunes, I realize that we've got quite a few games that begin with the letter S. I promise it was not intentional. Depending on whom you ask, Sonic Heroes is either a good entry in Sonic's 3D history or where things started to go off the rails. I really should put the game through it's paces some time. I heard the music a few years ago and wasn't really sold on it but gave it another listen and it has really grown on me.

The Poets I - Streets of Rage 3 (GEN)

The popular opinion is that Streets of Rage and Streets of Rage 2's soundtracks are better than Streets of Rage 3's. While I have to admit that I find the music of the first two games standing out in my mind more (though this is also due to the third game being needlessly tougher outside of Japan), Streets of Rage 3 still has fine music regardless. When I get around to making my Streets of Rage playlist, you'd best believe this track is getting a spot on the list.

Ground Scaravich Stage - Mega Man X6 (PS)

Mega Man X6 is a text book definition of a rushed game. It was released in 2001, the exact same year that Mega Man X5 was released. The translation is horrid, the story sucks and the level design is some of the worst in the entire Mega Man franchise, if not the worst. The one saving grace is the exceptional soundtrack. In spite of the repetitive nature of Ground Scaravich's level theme, I find myself liking this high energy tune a lot.

Mid Boss Mayhem - Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle (NS)

When word got out that Mario would be doing a crossover game with the Rabbids, many were skeptical. These worries, however, were unwarranted because Mario + Rabbids turned out to be a very fun, inviting strategy game. Even if games in this genre aren't your bag, you should still check this game out. You're think hard, laugh out loud and really love Grant Kirkhope's music.

Favorite Tunes Database

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Sonic Mania Deserves a Physical Release

Despite some of the criticisms I have towards the game (more reused zones than new ones, glitches, some cheap deaths), I greatly enjoy Sonic Mania. I've played through it multiple times and I've bought it twice, once on the PS4 and again for my recently purchased Switch. The game has been well received both by fans and critics. So the question on my and everyone else's mind is, why hasn't Sonic Mania gotten a physical release?

I've noticed a trend with 2D console Sonic games in recent years: they only get a digital release. Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode I and Episode II was released only digitally. While Sonic Mania fared much, much better than Sonic 4, it was still regulated to digital only status. However, SEGA did give Sonic Mania a pretty slick special edition release that costed three times that of the digital game. That Sonic statue and Genesis replica did cost SEGA money to make so it isn't as if expense of some kind was spared. Sonic Forces, which releases is November, is looking like its going to be a pretty solid game (in spite of Classic Sonic and Green Hill Zone returning for the millionth time) and it is getting a physical release.

It isn't like SEGA had no faith in Sonic Mania. They gave the game a lot of hype and attention before it released and the game has done tremendously well. I honestly can't fathom why SEGA wouldn't give such a highly praised and top selling game a physical release. Heck, they even went through the trouble of having insrtruction manuals for the game printed and given away at this year's SDCC event. These things now sell for insane prices online because people suck.

Shovel Knight, one of the best examples of why crowd funding isn't all bad, released digitally in 2014 and was a huge success for Yacht Club games. So much so that in 2015, they released a physical version of it, complete with a pretty beefy instruction manual. Buying games over again is hardly anything new and of course the fans went out and supported the physical release of Shovel Knight because they desperately wanted it for a long time. The demand for a physical copy of Sonic Mania is definitely there and I love for SEGA to package it with that manual. Come on and make it happen, SEGA.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Mama Luigi Reanimated Collab is Wonderful

Back in the late 1980s to early 1990s, DiC produced animated cartoons of the biggest gaming icon on the planet, Super Mario. These cartoons spanned Super Mario Bros. 2, Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World. One of the most memorable episodes of Super Mario World, if not the most memorable was the episode titled Mama Luigi. In this episode, Luigi recalls to a bed time Yoshi how the two met. The entire episode has been reanimated  and uploaded on YouTube and it is something you must see. Over 200 people participated in helping recreate this episode. The result is a compilation of tons of different art styles playing with the original episode audio. The crew behind this collab did a bang up job. Do check it out.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Favorite Tunes #195: Flashback

Let's do the time warp. Flashback has returned to Favorite Tunes. If you aren't familiar with Flashback, this is where I post six tracks that were already mentioned in a past Favorite Tunes. Think of it as the obligatory recap episode of an anime series only in Favorite Tunes form.

Can't Come Back - Under Defeat (DC, PS3, 360)

This helicopter shoot 'em up with an awkward control scheme was first released on the Dreamcast in 2006. Under Defeat would later receive a HD re-release in 2012 on the PS3 in physical form and on the 360 in 2014 as a digital only title. The game's soundtrack, composed by Shinji Hosoe, is godlike. If you're interested in a physical copy, they tend to be pricey.

Spagonia Rooftop Run Night - Sonic Unleashed (PS2, PS3, Wii, 360)

With Sonic Mania being so well received, bashing any Sonic game that isn't classic 2D has once again become all too common place. It has it's faults, but Sonic Unleashed is a 3D Sonic that I don't find myself hating. The Werehog sections, the most highly criticized aspect of the game does have highly repetitive combat to be sure, but not enough for me to write it off as bad. The music of Sonic Unleashed is among some of the finest in the entire series. If only that dang Werehog fight music didn't interrupt the level themes so often.

Lethal Strike -Final Fantasy Legend II (GB)

If you've played a Final Fantasy Legend title and thought to yourself "This feels mighty different from the other Final Fantasy titles," you're not wrong. Originally games in the SaGa line in Japan, all three GB SaGa games were released under the Final Fantasy Legend label outside of the Land of the Rising Sun. Kenji Ito and Nobuo Uematsu really gave the GB soundchip a workout when writing the music for this game. If you're looking for some standout GB chiptunes, you're in the right place with this one.

Take It! - Auto Modellista (PS2, GCN, XB)

It may be hard to believe, but there was a time when Capcom was once much better company than they are today. They were known for more than fighters and Resident Evil titles and Monster Rancher. The company was willing to experiment to a much greater degree than they do now with titles like Viewtiful Joe and Auto Modellista. Auto Modellista didn't set the world on fire but the game had stunning cel shaded visuals and some kickin' tunes.

Cold Pipe - Street Fighter EX+ Alpha (PS)

The EX series is the oddball of the Street Fighter titles, often viewed as an inferior set of side games when compared to the classic II line and III games. They aren't perfect but 3D Street Fighter could certainly be a lot worse. EX games were co-developed by Arika and they own the non Capcom characters. I'd about given up on seeing Skullomania and the gang but Arika surprised us all this year with the reveal of Fighting EX Layer. The EX games have some outstanding music the the PS version of EX's soundtrack easily surpassing it's arcade counterpart.

Betilla the Fairy - Rayman (Multi)

At a time where so many games were going from sprites to polygons, Rayman was released with some of the best sprite based visuals on any platform, resulting in a game that, over 20 years later, still looks dang good. Rayman is also really freaking hard, like so much harder than Origins, Legends and a lot of other platformers out today hard.

Favorite Tunes Database