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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Favorite Tunes #42: Winter is Here

Well it's that time of year again. Less daylight and you have to dress warm to fend off the cold. Yep, the season of winter has been upon us for some time now. Most gamers tend to hate snow and ice stages in their games. After all, they usually bring the gimmick of slippery controls, which no sane gamer can say they actually like. But it's often these levels that give us some pretty amazing background music.

Ice Man Stage - Mega Man Powered Up (PSP)

By Ageman20XX

With a thick coat of spruced up visual paint, an arranged soundtrack, the ability to play as all the Dr. Light Robot Masters and create your own levels, Mega Man Powered Up turned out to be quite the ambitious remake. The game offers so much content that it may was well be a brand new game rather than a remake of the first NES Mega Man. Too bad it had abysmal sales, which is more than likely the reason we won't see Powered Up versions of Mega Man 2-6. I thought Ice Man's theme on the NES was alright but I greatly prefer this slightly slower paced remix.

Winter Park Act 2 - Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II (PSN, 360)

I hear so much talk about how Sonic 4: Episode II music sucking. So I finally gave it a listen and was surprised by how much I ended up liking it. Sure, it loops around pretty quickly but I wouldn't call it terrible. Jun Senoue has certainly done better but I still liked what he did with Sonic 4's soundtrack. Winter Park Act 2 ditches the cheery Christmasy music heard in Act 1 in favor of a more serious piece of music.

Snow Mountain - Super Mario 64 (N64, DS)

Slip sliding ice levels have been a staple in the Super Mario series ever since Super Mario Bros. 2. While playing as Peach or flying power-ups like the Super Leaf and Cape Feather made these winter conditions easier to deal with in previous games, all Mario has to reply on are his own two feet in Super Mario 64. Snow Mountain has a few annoying Power Stars to get but I still consider it one of the easier courses especially compared to the likes of Tick Tock Clock and Rainbow Ride. Snow Mountain is, of course, a remix of Super Mario 64's Main Theme.

Chill Penguin Stage - Mega Man X (SNES)

Everyone that plays Mega Man X stats with Chill Penguin first. You need those dash boots to collect everything else in this game. That and Chill Penguin is an easy fight, even with X's low health. Despite being a snow and ice level, no portion of the terrain in this stage is slippery, so you won't have to struggle with the usual hazards that come with these type of levels.

Winterland - Tales of Destiny (PS ver.)

If memory serves, Tales of Destiny was the first Tales game to be localized for an American release. The game had an outstanding script, full of laugh out loud moments. The enemy encounters were random, but the fights still took place in real time combat, and even with your super deformed characters, it was quite fun. What wasn't so enjoyable was the fact that said random encounters occurred far too frequently. If you were to play a drinking game and take a swig every time you enter a random battle you'd be hammered quite quickly. Tales of Destiny also had an outstanding soundtrack and surprisingly, the PlayStation version has never gotten a soundtrack release. Oh sure, there are soundtracks of the original Tales of Destiny but none of them contain audio from the PS version, which for many, is the superior sound.

Shiver Star - Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards (N64)

The token ice world of Kirby 64 contains snowy playgrounds, a level above the clouds, a shopping mall and a factory that's sure to give kids nightmares. I can clearly remember that scene where Waddle Dee brings out a sleigh and her and Kirby go down the mountain. Sadly, the happiness of this tune is a bit diminished to me since Shiver Star takes place on what appears to be a post apocalyptic Earth. I still love it though.

Blizzard Buffalo Stage - Mega Man X3 (SNES ver.)

The third installment in the Mega Man X saga has a number of things that keep the game from being great for me, but chief among them are the regular enemies that populate the levels. Many of these foes have projectile attacks allowing them to attack you from a distance. A few of them even try to get the last laugh by firing off attacks even after they've been destroyed. Some of these guys can even hit you when they aren't on screen. But inspite of this, I still consider X3 a good game, but nowhere near the level of the first two. Like Chill Penguin, Blizzard Buffalo was a great place to start because you could get the foot parts, but the slippery mechanics that come with ice levels are in full swing here. Interestingly, when X3 was released on the Saturn and PlayStation, it was given arranged music, which has never done a thing for me.

Frost Walrus Stage 2 - Mega Man X4 (PS, SAT)

Frost Walrus has the honor of being the first "Maverick" from the X series to have two level themes. His first theme is kinda on the quiet side as if to counter the blizzard that's taking place during the first portion of the level. When you get to the midway point, the second theme kicks in, a remix of the first theme, which is a tad more lively than the original. You can actually see a banged up Blizzard Buffalo in the first half of Frost Walrus' stage.

Surface - GoldenEye 007 (N64)

When I first read about this game in the pages of GamePro for the E3 '96 feature I was skeptical. Why? Because it was a licensed game. After the huge debacle that was the SNES and Genesis Batman Forever, licensed games were something I was pretty much done with. After hearing so much praise get gushed upon this game, I had to play it. GoldenEye 007 for the N64 not only lived up to the hype, it surpassed it. It made the FPS genre on consoles popular and the multiplayer mode was one of the best reasons to have three extra controllers. Much of the music in GoldenEye is composed of arrangements of the classic James Bond theme and these arrangements never get old.

World 3 - New Super Mario Bros. Wii (Wii)

New Super Mario Bros. Wii brought four player multiplayer to the Super Mario Bros. series. Unfortunately, it's a bit too chaotic for my tastes. It's far too easy to get in each other's way unintentionally and end up screwing each other over. That said, the game can still be fun with three to four players and it's far less hectic when there's just two players on the screen. World 3 has my favorite World Map theme of the game. I bought NSMBW in December of 2010 so it doubly reminds me of Christmas time.

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