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Friday, June 28, 2013

Awesome Boss Battles in Gaming Part I

And now it is time for a completely and totally unoriginal feature. It's another ongoing feature at Gaming Rocks On, Awesome Boss Battles, AKA, some of my personal favorite boss battles in video games. Different battles are here for different reasons. Some of the bosses you'll see here are incredibly easy, others, not so much. Bosses or final bosses, it doesn't matter. Either one is fair game as far as I'm concerned.

Serris - Metroid Fusion (GBA)

Unlike the previous 2D game, Super Metroid, boss fights are plentiful in Metroid Fusion. One of the earlier bosses in the game, Serris is a sea serpent and a very quick one at that. The only weak point on Serris is it's face but the beast moves so fast that getting a clear shot can be difficult. You're forced to be alert at all times and watch every corner of the screen because Serris can attack from the fore, the rear and even below at lightning speed. Even with Samus' ability to hang from certain ceilings, Serris can still assault her from the high ground. All of this can can be very overwhelming, especially to new players, but it also makes for one of the most exciting boss fights you'll ever be in.

Bowser in the Sky - Super Mario 64 (N64)

The first fight with Bowser in Super Mario 64 was quite easy. Grab hold of his tail, swing him into a bomb and you saved the day. The second time, Bowser mixed things up by bringing more speed to the battle along with using his massive weight to tilt the whole arena. But even with those tactics, Mario still sent him packing. In round 3, Bowser is done screwing around. It's a lot harder to grab him by the tail, he breaths much more fire than ever and he's all around much more vicious. Still, taking him by the tail is by no means impossible and landing those first two hits is pretty simple. Oh, did I mention you have to throw him into three bombs this time instead of one? Well, you do. Tossing him into a third bomb, however, will not be child's play. You see, after you hurl him into the second bomb, pieces of the battle arena begin to fall away and when all the parts crumble, you're left standing on a huge star, thus making Bowser fly into one of the bombs a lot more challenging. It may take you some practice before you send the King of Koopas into that last bomb, but when you connect with that last blow, it's totally worth it.

Magma Dragoon - Mega Man X4 (PS, SAT)

There are a lot of cool-looking bosses in the Mega Man X series, but Magama Dragoon stands out for a few reasons. He's got one of the best designs. His attacks are very much Street Fighter based. And he's the only boss that can be fought with Ride Armor if you choose to use it. Reploids have been going maverick since the first Mega Man X but the reason Magma Dragoon, a member of the 17th Unit (which is X's squad, by the way) starts wrecking stuff makes the fight all the more interesting. By Sigma's urging, Dragoon sunk the Sky Lagoon, killed hundreds of innocent people and reploids all for the chance to fight X and Zero. He turned on his friends just so he could face two worthy opponents. Wow.

Seven Force - Gunstar Heroes (GEN)

Here's one that should surprise no one. If you're doing the stages in order, Seven Force is the boss of stage 2. Piloted by former Gunstar Hero, Green, the transforming mech known as Seven Force can take on seven different forms. The forms are Soldier Force, Tails Force, Tiger Force, Urchin Force, Crab Force, Eagle Force, and Blast Force. Each form has it's own special attacks. The Blast Force takes on the appearance of a pistol that reloads after a few shots. To make the fight even more challenging, each form has it's own vitality, so defeating one from does not end the fight. The difficulty you play on determines just how many forms of Seven Force that you'll see. Playing on easy will show three forms, playing on normal will get you five forms, and playing on Expert will get you all seven deadly forms. Since the battle takes place in a huge mine shaft, and you're riding anti-gravity mine carts, you can take to the ceiling if need be. But some forms are fought in a vertical shaft like the Urchin and Eagle Force and room to maneuver in these quarters is tight. Seven Force is so popular a boss that variations of it have appeared in other Treasure games like Alien Soldier and Astro Boy: Omega Factor.

Harrier - Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (PS2, XB)

Raiden's exploits on the Big Shell were staged to be similar to Solid Snake's mission in Shadow Moses, including a battle against Liquid in a Hind D. But where Snake only had to worry about keep himself alive in that fight, Raiden had his own safety as well as that of Snake and Octacon to consider. High atop the Big Shell, Solidus flies in a Harrier Jet. Raiden receives a Stinger Missiles to defend himself and Snake and Octacon but he's still vastly outmatched by the Harrier. The Kasatka Snake and Octacon are flying in also places them at a disadvantage when compared to the Harrier's superior speed. If Raiden dies, it's game over. If the Kasatka is shot down, it's game over. So you've got two life bars to keep an eye on. You can use chaff grenades to jam the Harrier's radar but you risk getting turned into Swiss cheese or worse whenever you stick your neck out to do so. Note that using a chaff grenade also jams your own radar. At the same time, scrambling the Harrier's radar is the only way to ensure a fair fight, if it can be called such. There are places you can go for cover, but Solidus is one trigger happy dude and will gladly shoot a barrage of missiles at you whenever the opportunity presents itself. Of the numerous boss fights in Metal Gear Solid 2, this one is pretty high on my list.

Part II

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Favorite Tunes #63: I'm Up for Anything

It's that time again. No set themes. Anything goes. We've got some familiar themes from well known games as well as some not-so-familiar themes from lesser known games.

Riviera was released on the Wonder Swan, GBA and PSP handhelds. An RPG from Atlus, your inventory space is extremely limited. By this, I mean even smaller than that of Resident Evil. Since you can only take a handful of items into battle you really have to think carefully and plan ahead. It's one of the better portable RPGs out there with a fantastic soundtrack. Even the GBA brings out some mesmerizing melodies.

When you finally face off against Pokey, you're treated to an 8-bit battle theme. Considering how stranger the world in EarthBound is, some NES chiptunes doesn't seem too out of the ordinary. The battle music plays out like normal up until the 53 second mark. The 8-bit theme is replaced by an SNES version that sounds like some sick death metal. It's a very welcome "what the eff" moment in video game music.

My favorite super hero. Unsurprisingly, Spidey is a character I love to use in Capcom's numerous crossover games. He's quick, agile and has a number of web based attacks. It isn't that groovy theme from the 1960's Spider-Man cartoon, but the wall-crawler was still given top audio honors in Marvel vs. Capcom.

Don't let the cute graphics and character designs deceive you. Gimmick! can reduce grown men to tears with it's difficulty. Since this is a Sunsoft game, of course you can expect an excellent soundtrack. There's plenty of upbeat music to help keep your hair on your head as well as more serious themes like this one.

The second Final Fantasy game to get a direct sequel after Final Fantasy X, from my understanding, XIII-2 is about as well received as the first XIII. That is to say, it did little to ease the sting that the first game left. But like the first XIII, XIII-2 has an outstanding musical score. Once again Masashi Hamauzu gives us another unforgettable battle piece. If you've got Theatrhythm Final Fantasy, Etro's Champion is a great 99 cents DLC track to have.

Gerudo Valley - The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64, 3DS)

Well it's about time this theme finally showed up in Favorite Tunes. Gerudo Valley is a scorching hot valley that is home of the Gerudo race, one of the numerous races in Hyrule. It was in Ocarina of Time that we learned that Ganondorf was a Gerudo and a single male Gerudo is born every one hundred years. Since so few males are born, they are declared king by birthright. 

Hotel Moon Forest - Opoona (Wii)

Opoona didn't get the most favorable reviews, but even at $6, I should have picked this game up off the shelf when I saw it at GameStop a few years back. Sure, the character designs may be simplistic and even strange, but the soundtrack is incredible!

James McCloud - F-Zero GX (GCN)

Developed by Amusement Vision, F-Zero GX is one of the GameCube's best looking and sounding games. It's also the toughest F-Zero with a difficulty rivaling that of Battletoads. Since Amusement Visions is one of SEGA's second parties, you know they have their ducks in a row when it comes to music. Each character was given their own theme and James McCloud just screams '80s cheesiness. And I love it.

Sky Fortress Act 2 - Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode II (PSN, XBLA)

Yes, Sonic 4, Ep II's music can be repetitive, but there really are some good tracks in it and I'm not just talking about that Metal Sonic Genesis-style arrangement. That's a fine song and all, but if you don't think Sky Fortress Act 2 is another of Sonic 4's good themes, you may want to get your hearing checked.

The Evil Koopa King - Super Mario World (SNES, GBA)

Bowser slowly descends from the black sky. In a flying clown car. You may think said car looks silly, but it was still a pretty bad awesome way to make an entrance, especially the way this theme starts up. Koji Kondo, it's themes like these that make me wish you tapped more into the rock side of music.

Favorite Tunes Database

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Rocking on for Five Years

Five years ago today, news of Mega Man 9 being confirmed drove me to do something that I'd been considering for a while up to that point: start a gaming blog here on Blogger. Rumors had been circulating the existence of Mega Man 9 for some time and someone even came up with a mock screen shot. Then, an issue of Nintendo Power had released with real screens of Mega Man 9. I was so excited to see the Blue Bomber back in action that he became the very first topic that I blogged about on this very site.

Prior to creating Gaming Rocks On, most of my blogging was done over on the GameSpot forums. But even before starting this blog, I'd come to love Blogger over GameSpot's blogging tools since I maintained a different blog on Blogger that is sadly no longer active due to my greater interest in Gaming Rocks On.

Confirmation on Mega Man 9 was my
very first blog post for Gaming Rocks On.

Gaming is something I've always been very passionate about. Becoming a professional video game journalist has been a dream of mine ever since I was 18 years old. But breaking into the business isn't easy and these days, you can start up your own website or show in your very own home. So while I don't get paid to write for Gaming Rocks On, it still feels like a job to me and is one I take great pride in. I'm not quite sure if I still want to become a professional game journalist, but one that that I know for certain is that my love for writing about games has only increased since I started this blog.

So why the name "Gaming Rocks On"? Well, I've always been fond of compilation music albums and during 2007 and 2008 I spent a lot of my free time creating my own from my music collection. One album title I had in mind was for gaming music of the rock variety, so I was going to call that album Gaming Rocks On. When it came time to enter the name of my new blog, Gaming Rocks On immediately popped into my mind. I'm usually terrible at thinking up interesting names but Gaming Rocks On just seemed to work for me. Plus it didn't seem like a common name for a blog, so I felt it stood out. Given how often I would reference video game music in Favorite Tunes, I guess that's a little ironic.

Latest Purchases lets my show off things
I've picked up.

2008 was the year Gaming Rocks On began, but looking back, it was also one of the most difficult years in my life. Near the end of 2007, it was announced that America had entered an economic recession. It wouldn't be until about mid 2008 that the effects became far more evident. In Dayton, Ohio the job market had dried up considerably and my work hours were at an all-time low. There were times where I didn't think I was going to make it and one of the things that helped me cope through one of the harshest financial situations I've ever been in was managing Gaming Rocks On.

In the beginning, my blog was kind of directionless. There would be the occasional news post here, and and editorial there. I didn't really have a set idea of what Gaming Rocks On was going to be, but as they say, you gotta crawl before you can walk. Now I have regular features like Game Art, the aforementioned Favorite Tunes, Currently Playing and more. I'm still working on new content for the blog that I haven't revealed yet.

For those that follow me, I'd like to extend my thanks. I never even imagined that I would get the number of followers that I have now. Sure, it isn't nearly as much as other blogger sites, but I'm still grateful. I'm also grateful for those that stop by even if only briefly. The number of views some of my posts get is staggering to me. So those who comment and those who don't, thank you.

Gaming Rocks On wouldn't be what it is without my fellow bloggers. Super Philip Central, 8-Bit Girl, Game Over Yeah, Cross-Up, The Gay Gamer and numerous others have helped inspire me by trucking away on their own blogs. Thank you all so very much.

Whether you're a longtime follower or a recent reader, I hope you'll stick with Gaming Rocks On as it continues to grow and evolve. If it's come this far in five years, I can only imagine what the next half a decade will bring.

New Leaf Journal: Life and Times in Gamerock Entry 1

Welcome to a new ongoing feature at Gaming Rocks On. Life and Times in Gamerock is about my exploits in Animal Crossing: New Leaf, the latest installment in the Animal Crossing series. You can make the argument of whether Animal Crossing is a true game or not until the stars turn cold. All I know is that whenever Nintendo releases one of these babies, I boot it up every single day to earn bells, run errands, and live my pleasant, happy life. I'm doing the exact same thing in New Leaf but with some much appreciated changes thrown in to keep things fresh. Life and Times in Gamerock won't be a daily journal. Just something I'll post when I feel like sharing the latest happenings in my town.

I'm sitting on a train by myself. Heading for Gamerock to start my new life. It's nice and quiet. My quiet time gets interrupted by a familiar cat. Cripes, it's Rover. This is the third time dealing with that feline. Hasn't anyone skinned him yet? Since the option to thrown him from the train window has sadly not be implemented yet, I reluctantly let him sit down across from me and as usual, he can't shut up. I tell him I'm headed for Gamerock and somewhere in the conversation he makes me smile by referencing the original Animal Crossing. Heh, that was cute.

When I step off the train, the people, or should I say, animals, of Gamerock are all waiting for me, much to my surprise. First time that's ever happened in an Animal Crossing game. They seem to think I'm the mayor. What happened to Tortimer? Other hand holidays, all he did was sit on his lazy shell sleeping, so I'm guessing they kicked him out faster than Mario kicks a Koopa Troopa off a cliff. I try to get out of it, but it's no use. Like it or not, I'm the mayor of Gamerock. I know a lot of responsibility will come with the job, but I'm sure I'll be a much better mayor than that old fart ever was.

And don't any of you forget it!

Thankfully, I have some guidance as the mayor in my secretary, Isabelle. It really would suck if I had no one to turn to and Isabelle seems as dedicated and loyal as the come. Definitely one of my favorite new additions to Animal Crossing.

Check out the IQ points on Portia. Sharp
as a tack, this one.

I may be the mayor but I'm still without a roof over my head. And that's when Isabelle drops the name that may as well be an alias for Satan: Tom Nook. You have GOT to be yanking my chain. I'm the mayor. THE MAYOR. I'm the most powerful person in town. Yet, I'm still under that money-obsessed tanooki's thumb? Aggghhh! With no one else to turn to, I head to Nook Homes and talk to the raccoon. Thinking I'll start off with a small house like previous Animal Crossing games, he sets me up in a tent. Well, is't he a swell guy? He's putting me up in a tent until I can get him 10,000 bells to build me a house. Everyone else has a nice, sturdy house and I have the comfort of a tent.

Yeah, I know you do, you furry, fat...

At least I don't have to be Nook's slave. That was just a whole can of salt in the wound in previous games. Still, I had to find some way to come up with money to get my home built. Thankfully, some of the trees in Gamerock already had fruit growing on theme. The default fruit seems to be the peach. I collected as much of them as I could and sold them at Re-Tail, a new store addition to the series. Re-Tail pays higher prices than Nookling Junction (now managed by Timmy and Tommy Nook) and you can use the store as a flea market to sell you own items at your own set prices. I already found some nice stuff at Re-Tail and it's my go to store for exchanging items for bells.


Still, Nookling Junction does offer fortune cookies. At the cost of two play coins I can munch on a cookie, get the lucky ticket and get a rare item. I have well over 240 play coins so I've made it a habbit to stop by Nookling Junction daily. Nookling Junction also sold the bug catcher's net, and the shovel. With that, I was off to catch bugs and dig up fossils, and I was on my way to earning bells. Soon, I had enough to pay off Nook and move into my new home! Much as I hate him, it still is a relief when you get the debt paid off.

I really liked visiting the city in City Folk, but in New Leaf, Main Street has just about all of my shopping needs covered. The Able Sisters, (all three of them) sell some of the best clothes around and offer a ton of new designs and accessories. Custom designs are great, too! I love the simple white long sleeve shirt that was designed by an Anytown resident. For a few days, it was all I wore until I had more bells to spend on other clothing and hats. No fancy dress up for this, mayor, no, sir! I'm gonna run this town looking as laid back as I want. Though that grandpa hat is pretty cool...

This clown must think I'm made of bells.
Just look at how he's gleaming at the
prospect of getting richer.
After I paid the piper, I was pleased to have an actual home and not an essential camping tool. But I knew I would need a bigger place so I went to Nook to talk about expanding. And I knew that wouldn't come cheap. The cost of a making my home bigger increases each time. Yeah, you can pay him back at your own pace, but being in debt to Nook is like having a nose around your neck. And he really thinks 39,800 bells is chump change? I'm gonna spend the rest of my life giving this guy money!


One thing I really wish I had was a slingshot. I still don't have an ax, but I really need a slingshot. The game delights in tormenting me over the fact that I don't have one because I've seen so many gifts attached to balloons floating over my head and their isn't jack I can do about it. What do I have to do to get a slingshot?!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Currently Playing #17

Animal Crossing: New Leaf (3DS)

My addiction with Animal Crossing begins anew. And since this one is on a portable system, meaning I have all-time access to it, this could be the most addictive one yet. I thought the Animal Crossing games were getting a bit stale but when I heard that you would be the mayor of your own town, I knew that Nintendo had instantly reeled me back in with New Leaf. Having a greater deal of control than ever before? SOLD! Of course, I still feel that, in spite of my new found power, that devilish raccoon, Tom Nook is the one holding all the cards. I mean, I'm the mayor. THE MAYOR. And I'm still indebted to this furry, money grubbing freak? Feh.

I'm already seeing a lot of the old items pop up, but I'm seeing lots of new ones, too. You can wear pants or shorts and even socks! Or if you don't want to wear socks, or shoes, you can walk around barefoot! It's the little touches that make Animal Crossing games so much fun and New Leaf may be the best one yet! One of my favorite things about the Animal Crossing games is all the different clothes your character can wear and I'm already loving what I'm seeing in New Leaf. I'm already trying to collect as many bells as I can to not only pay off Nook to keep the mob off my back, but to keep more cool clothes on my back. You even get long sleeve shirts this time or shirts that have no sleeves!

A few things I don't like are writing letters. I don't know if it's my stylus or the fact that I'm playing on a regular 3DS, but the touch screen is insanely finicky in this game and it makes letter writing a huge headache. I know one way to improve the lives of citizens is to write letters and give them gifts, but if I gotta suffer every time I try to write something then those letters are going to be one word deals.

I'll have a lot to discus concerning New Leaf. So like some of my fellow bloggers have already done, I'm going to start a journal for my experiences with the game right here on this very blog. I'm not yet sure how frequent the updates will be, but it will contain lots of photos since this may be the best use I get out of the 3DS camera.

Mighty Switch Force! (3DSW)

Whoa! Why didn't I get this game when I first got my 3DS back in early 2012?! This game is AWESOME! I mean, I heard great things about it and I've heard the soundtrack so many times that's now a part of my brain. But to finally play the game? It's like trying a new dish that you're genuinely surprised is really good. It's an old-school game and like a lot of old-school games, you learn as you play. Thought it isn't too complicated. A touch of the button switches blocks so that they become solid for you to walk or jump on. You constantly have the switch the blocks to kill enemies, make it to prisoners and overall complete stages without accidentally crushing yourself with your own switch power, which I've found out is quite easy to do.

I'm almost finished with the game but I can easily see myself coming back to this one to get faster times on completing levels or just to play through it again because it's so much fun. Of course I plan to get Mighty Switch Force! 2 once I've wrapped this game up. WayForward has crafted one of my new favorite IPs and I'm itching for more.

Still Playing: Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door, Theatrhythm Final Fantasy

Favorite Tunes #62: Sonic 22nd Anniversary

Welcome to a special edition of Favorite Tunes. 22 years and one day ago in gaming, Sonic the Hedgehog was released on the Sega Genesis or Mega Drive in America and Europe. He's had a lot of ups and arguably more downs, but over the last few years, he's been having some good ups. Just about every single Sonic game has had excellent music and I've no doubt we'll be in store for some quality music when Sonic Lost World arrives on the 3DS and Wii U later this year.

Spring Yard Zone - Sonic the Hedgehog (GEN)

Where it all began. The original Sonic the Hedgehog game is remembered for a variety of reasons. At the time of it's 1991 release, it was the fastest running video game, something SEGA was quick to smear in the face of it's then arch rival, Nintendo. It had amazing colors and animation and most importantly, it was darned fun to play. That killer soundtrack by Masato Nakamura certainly didn't hurt. All the casino inspired levels throughout the Sonic series can trace their origins back to Spring Yard Zone.

Sky High Zone - Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (GG, MS)

Releasing one day before the Genesis version, the Game Gear version of Sonic 2 introduced Tails. Who was quickly kidnapped by Robotnik in the opening cut scene. Yeah, it's one of those plots. Despite being a game on limited hardware in comparison to the Genesis, this is one of the hardest games in the Sonic series. Earn your happy ending indeed.

Chemical Plant Zone - Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (GEN)

The game where most remember Tails making his debut. He always came back to your side no matter how gruesome the death and if you didn't have a buddy to control him, you could always count on Tails to screw you over in those Special Stages. Masato Nakamura returned to handle the audio in Sonic 2, once again serving up one of the Genesis' best scores.

Toxic Caves - Sonic Spinball (GEN)

Sonic 3 & Knuckles couldn't be released in 1993 and Sonic CD was Sega CD bound so that left an American team to crank out Sonic Spinball for the Genesis. Spinball may be one of the shortest Sonic games in history at only four levels long, but you will have a dozy of a time trying to finish this game. Few have beaten the final level without an emulator using save states.

Turquoise Hill Zone - Sonic Chaos (GG)

Game Gear music may sound primitive, even by '90s handheld standards, but some of it still sounds pleasing to the ears. Called Sonic & Tails in Japan, Sonic Chaos marked the first time Tails was a playable character in the handheld Sonic games. Turquoise Hill is your standard Green Hill-like starting level, full of loop-the-loops and a catchy first level jam.

Gigapolis Zone - Sonic Chaos (GG)

A zone that's clearly influenced by Sonic 2's Chemical Plant Zone, Gigapolis Zone takes place at night and even contains the tubes similar to the ones Sonic and Tails traveled through in Chemical Plant. I'd also argue that Gigapolis theme music is every bit as memorable as Chemical Plant, but then, that's an argument I bow out of because way more people have played Genesis Sonic 2 than Sonic Chaos. This them actually sounds a bit different on the Master System.

Collision Chaos (JP/EUR ver.) - Sonic CD (SCD)

Sonic CD has two soundtracks. The Japanese/European score and the American soundtrack. Each one is radically different and the fanbase is still divided to this day on which one is better. It's an argument I really don't like to get involved in since I enjoy both. The JP/EUR version of Collision Chaos is quite the happening tune. Do people still say the word happening? I probably sound terribly dated. Oh well.

Stardust Speedway (US ver.) - Sonic CD (SCD)

The default music of Stardust Speedway in the American score is SUCH a good song. I wish I could say the same thing for the level itself. It's a horribly designed mess of springs and bumpers that fling the player every which way, making it frustrating to navigate.

Hydrocity Zone Act 2 - Sonic 3 & Knuckles (GEN)

Water levels tend to be the bane of gamers existence, but I felt Sonic 3 & Knuckles had one of the best water themed stages in gaming in Hydrocity Zone. At high speed, Sonic can run on water and the Bubble Shield made underwater travel a whole lot smoother. It was tough for me to pick which Act theme I liked better, but in the end, Hydrocity Act 2 won.

Flying Battery Zone Act 1 - Sonic 3 & Knuckles (GEN)

A lot of fans champion Sonic 2 on the Genesis as their favorite Sonic game and it's a great platformer, but for me, Sonic 3 & Knuckles, the combination of Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles, the game Sonic 3 was intended to be, will always reign as the pinnacle of Sonic games. The zones are huge, the speed is insane and it's still a good looking game today.

Rusty Ruins Zone Act 2 - Sonic 3D Blast (SAT)

If only 3D Blast played as good as the music sounds. The isometric perspective makes platforming a chore and the trademark Sonic speed is more or less absent from this SEGA published but non Sonic Team developed title. At least we got two good soundtracks out of both the Genesis and Saturn versions. You can hear some of the title theme throughout numerous tracks in the Saturn version and it's very apparent in both versions of Rusty Ruins.

Skydeck A Go! Go! ...for Skydeck - Sonic Adventure (DC, GCN)

The first true 3D Sonic game (most people don't count Sonic 3D Blast or Sonic R), Sonic Adventure wow many upon it's release along side the Dreamcast in 1999. It wasn't perfect. Some of the characters aren't all that great to play as and it suffered from some pretty screwy camera angles, especially in Skydeck, Sonic Adventure is still one of my favorite Sonic games. Jun Seunoue did his thing with that guitar in a lot of Sonic Adventure's music. I thought Skydeck was a pretty cool area as far as battleships go, but exploring it was a pain. Thankfully, the music kept me from losing my mind.

This Way Out ...for Prison Lane - Sonic Adventure 2 (DC, GCN)

Sonic Adventure 2 has the honor of being the last Sonic game to be released on a SEGA console as the company bowed out of the console wars in 2001. I've never understood how anyone could confuse Sonic for Shadow outside of poor lighting. Yet, Sonic still takes the blame for Shadow's crimes.

Sunset Hill Act 3 - Sonic Advance (GBA)

All of Sunset Hill must have been one great big nostalgic rush for players. Each of Sunset Hill's three acts contained an arrangement of the famous Green Hill Zone theme. For such an iconic theme, there haven't been too many arrangements in the Sonic games so when one comes along, you really got to savor it.

Wrapped in Black - Sonic Rush (DS)

Just as he did on the GBA, Sonic continued to thrive on the DS handheld. Taking advantage of both screens, the huge zones the Sonic games are known for seemed even bigger when you had to watch the top and bottom screen. If you detect a bit of Jet Set Radio in Sonic Rush's music, that's because Hideki Naganuma, Jet Set Radio's primary composer wrote the music for Sonic Rush. Wrapped in Black is the the tune that plays during the game's true final boss battle.

Sky Babylon (Act 1 & 2 Mix) - Sonic Rush Adventure (DS)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

Some were disappointed that Hideki Naganuma didn't return for soundtrack duties on Sonic Rush Adventure. But the game's score was still in good hands. Tomoya Ohtani, Seirou Okamoto, and Mariko Nanba gave us an incredible score that was on par with Naganuma's material in the original Sonic Rush. I've never even plated Rush Adventure and I fell in love with it's soundtrack.

Chun-nan Night - Sonic Unleashed (PS3, 360, PS2, Wii)

Unpopular opinion time. I actually liked Sonic Unleashed, even the Werehog segments. Yeah, they slowed the game down, but if you the Sonic games are all about speed, I think you're missing something. Much as I love fantasy settings, I loved the fact that much of Unleashed's locals were based off real world locations like Alaska. The level themes were outstanding but the hub world tunes were good in their own right, especially the night themes.

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

Easily some of my favorite levels in Sonic Unleashed. The Rooftop Run stages take place in Spagonia, which is based off of Spain, Europe and Italy. The daytime theme gets a lot of love and that's certainly understandable. However, I think the funky night version of Rooftop Run is just as good. That guitar and accordion are amazing.

Favorite Tunes Database

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Super Smash Bros. Songs to Smash To: Mario Edition

The fourth entry in the Super Smash Bros. series was announced some time ago and the reveal trailer hit the web during this year's E3. With Smash fever reaching new heights once again, this is the perfect time to break out a new feature as we wait for the game's 2014 release.

Super Smash Bros. had a good soundtrack. Super Smash Bros. Melee had a great soundtrack with arrangements of classic themes and those of long forgotten and lesser known Nintendo titles. Super Smash Bros. Brawl had a soundtrack that was so unfathomably awesome that there's no way it could be entered into a contest for best video game soundtracks because all other entries would be destroyed by it's god-like score. That's just how broken it is. With the new Super Smash Bros. in development for the Wii U and 3DS, I could daydream about all the songs I'd love to smack Jigglypuff around to, but I figure, why not share them with you?

Songs to Smash To is a feature in which I'll list some character-related songs I think should be in the next Super Smash Bros. This first installment is all about Mr. Video Game, Mario.

Yoshi's Island

I was please that a selection of tracks from one of the SNES best platformers made it into Brawl in arranged form. But there was one glaring omission: Koopa. How on Earth was this song not included? It's one of Nintendo's best final boss themes and a fine example of Koji Kondo once again rocking out. Koopa NEEDs to be in the next Smash. The original or a remix. Personally, I'd love to have both. While they're at it, they need to add Castle and Fortress to the mix and ditto for Underground and Big Boss. 

Super Mario World

The Evil Koopa King (The Evil King Bowser), the final boss track of Super Mario World would be great to listen to as you triple jump your way back from certain doom and connect the Smash Attack to send you opponent blasting off again. Better still, why not use the Fortune Street arrangement? For my money, that's the best arrangement of the tune. I'd play 1000 Vs. matches jut to unlock it!

Super Mario RPG

Yoko Shimomura's music is begging to be used in Smash. Everyone wants Beware the Forest Mushrooms, but I think Weapons Factory is more than worthy of being included. Arrangements of the Smithy Battle themes, Fight against Smithy, and Fight Against Smithy, Who Likes Transforming would certainly be welcomed. 

Super Mario 64

I love the Main Theme of Super Mario 64 as much as the next guy and I'd love to see it return in the new Smash game. Let's give Slider some love along with Koopa's Road. Speaking of Koopa's Road, the Mario & Sonic at the Winter/London 2012 Olympic Games arrangement is just begging to be used in a Smash game. And I'll take Ultimate Koopa or an arrangement of it, please.

Super Mario Galaxy

Super Mario Galaxy has one of my favorite gaming soundtracks so I'd be perfectly with some original songs from this game and no remixes. So the songs I'd love to see included from this game are Battle Rock Galaxy, Gusty Garden Galaxy, Space Junk Galaxy, Purple Comet, Melty Molten Galaxy, Bowser's Galaxy Reactor, and Nemesis Bowser. And of course, Super Mario 2007.

Super Mario Galaxy 2

More wonderful orchestral Mario music goodness. I may love the first Galaxy more than Galaxy 2, but this is still a great game with some fantastic music. My picks from this game are Sky Station Galaxy, Cloudy Court Galaxy, Spin-Dig Galaxy, Space Storm Galaxy, and Time Attack.

New Super Mario Bros.

There are two tracks I'd really love to see from this game make it into the new Smash. The Overworld Versus Mode theme, which I actually like better than the single player Overworld music and the Castle music. Throw in the Fortune Street arranged version and we're golden.

Mario Kart 7

Blue Shell annoyance aside, this is one of my top entries in the Mario Kart series for many reasons, chief among them being the audio. I think it's a given to see some form of a Mario Kart track make it in the new Smash and so I'd really like to hear Neo Bowser City, Rainbow Road, Rock Mountain, Bowser's Castle, and the Staff Credits theme.

Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga

This game has SO many good battle themes. Would't it be killer to have an arranged medley of  Come On!, Come On, Again!, and Rookie and PoppleThe Last Cackletta could be it's own separate arrangement.

Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins

Hey, if the first Super Mario Land got some lovin' in the sound department in Brawl, there's no reason it's sequel shouldn't. I'll take remixes Athletic, Tree Top, Star Maze and Wario's Castle.

Mario's Picross

An arranged version of 3D Hot Rally's Title theme made it as an unlockable song in Brawl. I'm willing to bet only a handful of people even know of the existence of that Famicom Disk game. No reason why Mario's Picross, another lesser known Mario game shouldn't get some of it's music featured in the new Smash. BGM 5 was pretty much all I listened to when solving puzzles in this game, so I'd be ecstatic to play on a level where this song can be used. I'd even settle for a mix of it with BGM 2.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Xbox One is not Out of the Woods Yet

Wednesday, Microsoft released an update on their Xbox One website regarding said system. The heat the company took for it's DRM, constant net connection, 24 hour check ins and blocking of used games sent the message loud and clear that the Xbox One was a console that few had any interest in. Much to gamers surprise, Microsoft caved and threw all that nonsense out the window. While it made me proud to see gamers the world over showing Microsoft that they were not going to put up with such restrictive features, I've come to realize that the Xbox One is not in the clear. Far from it, in fact.

Many gamers are still looking at Microsoft with their arms folded and scowled faces. Believe it or not, I think that's perfectly understandable. Some of you may be asking "Why?" I mean, they gave us what we wanted, a next gen console with no DRM. Used and borrowed games have life on the Xbox One. What's the reason to still be up in arms? The fact that Microsoft was willing to run gamers down with a steamroller and implement such limiting features to begin with, that's why.

I'm as happy as the next guy that the Xbox One won't block used games and you don't need a constant connection just to play Forza Motorsport 5. If the net connection gets faulty, you won't have to worry about your game being interrupted and having to resort to reruns of the Golden Girls to pass the time (not that there's anything wrong with that). But for a lot of gamers, removing the things that made the Xbox a raw deal isn't enough to welcome Microsoft back with open arms. Make no mistake, Microsoft got rid of the things that made us loath the Xbox One because we didn't leave them with any choice. There's the saying, you always have a choice, but let's be real here. Microsoft was screwed. Had they stuck to their guns, they would have gotten slaughtered in the coming console war. Sony was considering doing the exact same things with the PS4 that Microsoft was doing before they backed out. But since Microsoft was foolish enough to charge full steam ahead, they came out looking like Cuban cigar-smoking suits, counting their money (which they probably are) while Sony looks like saints that truly cares about what the gamers want. It's the fact that Microsoft was so eager to blow that huge puff of smoke in the face of gamers while looking so smug that has gamers still keeping their backs turned on the Xbox One. For a lot of gamers, the damage is done.

Then there's the Kinect, which is still required and is on at all times. The Kinect is more than likely the reason the Xbox One is $499, which makes it the most costly of all three next gen consoles. Go with Sony or Nintendo or both and you get cheaper systems that aren't always spying on you.

Again, I'm glad Microsoft gave gamers what they wanted but at the same time, I can see why a lot of gamers still have their noses turned up at them. If Microsoft was willing to go such a disastrous route in the first place, what's to stop them from doing something similar or worse down the road?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Mighty Switch Force 2! Official Soundtrack

So I just found out this week that WayForward made a sequel to the 3DS Ware hit Mighty Switch Force! Over the last few days I've been playing through the original and it's everything the critics and fans said it is, one of the best games you get from the eShop, if not the best. Long before I actually played the original game, I listened to the soundtrack over and over. It has since become one of my all-time favorite video game soundtracks. Just like the first game, Mighty Switch Force! 2 has been given a soundtrack release to coincide with the game's release. The Mighty Switch Force! 2 Official Soundtrack is every bit as amazing as the first game's score was. One could make the argument that it's even better, but it's an argument that I won't get into.

Once again, Jake Kaufman has been called upon to give us some highly memorable gaming melodies and the man does not disappoint. Like the first game, Mighty Switch Force! 2's music feels very retro, containing heavy doses of disco, funk, and chiptunes. The familiar Mighty theme present in every single Mighty game can be heard in the Title theme and that wonderful level select music returns with a new Stage Select arrangement. Mighty Switch Force! 2 does have a new main theme that appears in a number of tracks such as the aforementioned Title theme. This new main theme is most prominent in the oh-so-catchy Got2BAStar and the the staff roll, Credits (Rescue Girl), which is a sweet vocal track that sounds like it was sung by the Village People.

The good tunes don't end there. I can just imagine people dancing in a club to Soft Collision. I suspect Exothermic will be a huge fan favorite track. It reminds me of '80s techno for some reason and since I love the '80s, I have nothing bad to say about that. Exothermic will probably be the Love You Love You Love of Mighty Switch Force!2's music. Glow is another high energy track and I do hope Dalmatian Station gets the love it deserves because it's a splendid track that could get lost among so many other standout songs. My personal favorite track of the whole album is Soak Patrol Alpha. Exothermic is a fantastic tune, one I've hit repeat on numerous times but not nearly as much as Soak Patrol Alpha. There are a few instances where the song goes into dub step territory and I know dub step gets a bad rap but I think it sounds really good in this song. I nearly expect the lights to dim and a disco ball to descend from the ceiling every time I hear Rainbow Love Zone. The funk is certainly strong with that one. Things move towards the dark and foreboding with Final Level, a tune that leaves little doubt that the final confrontation is just ahead. Speaking of climaxes, Final Boss is our frantic, bullet-sweating final battle theme, complete with fire engine whaling in the background.

All of the in-game music comes in at 15 tracks long. That would have been enough to fill me up but Jake and company decided to pile even more on our plates with six remixes. My favorites among the remixes are Soak Patrol Alpha (Soak Patrol Mix), a more funk-infused version of the original tune arranged by coda. Title (Cool Me Down Mix), a mellow version of the Title theme and Rescue Girl, which Jake himself arranged. DJ Bouche, known for his excellent chiptune covers arranged Glow (All Aboard the Luminous Airship Mix), which reminds me of Super Mario Galaxy's orchestral themes.

So you've got some incredible audio from what looks to be a really fun sequel (haven't played it yet). Even better, the Mighty Switch Force! 2 Official Soundtrack is being offered for a name your price download. Should you choose to enter anything above 0, the money will go towards WayForward's future soundtrack needs. There is no minimum amount to enter. This soundtrack can be yours for nothing. Pay or don't, it doesn't matter. Get this soundtrack.

Mighty Switch Force! 2 Official Soundtrack

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Gamers: We Have Power. Xbox One Does 180

*Clap Clap Clap*

That is the sound of thousands of gamers around the world applauding Microsoft.

For weeks, Microsoft has been the target of memes, countless editorial slams and all other manner of bile that gamers can spew their way. All of the criticism Microsoft garnered was well deserved. Always online DRM, a constant internet connection to play games, checking in every 24 hours, no trading games and no used games were all reasons that would ensure Xbox One consoles would collect dust on retailer shelves if the majority of gamers had anything to say about it. And we most certainly did. The Xbox One may as well have had a boot up screen that gave gamers the finger because that was precisely what Microsoft was doing. So why would anyone be singing the praises of Microsoft? They had a change of heart.

I believe it was Derek Powers from Batman Beyond that asked new villain Shriek this question. "Have you ever had power? It's no small thing, I assure you."

Gamers, the people that keep companies afloat. The ones that drive sales. The ones that can make or break a game. We have so much power in our possession and over the course of several weeks, we demonstrated that power and showed a juggernaut cooperation just what we're capable of. We may not be able to do the things that Microsoft or other publishers can, but our opinions matter and we are not a people to be taken lightly.

All that editorial bashing? Those YouTube rant videos? All those hilarious memes that made the Xbox One "features" look like a joke? They worked. The backlash Microsoft received for placing such insane restrictions on the Xbox One hit the company like a ton of bricks, causing them to rethink their strategy, which was more or less failure. No more always online DRM. No stupid 24 hour check ins. Trading games, used games and borrowing games? We can do all of that as we've continued to do so for decades. Microsoft, you just sold yourself a ton of Xbox Ones.

I admit that I didn't think Microsoft was going to back down, at least not for sometime. So yeah, I myself was in doubt of the power that we as consumers hold. Like many of you, I expressed my outcry on the Xbox one, venting to get it out of my system, thinking Microsoft would stand firm. But today, I was reminded along with everyone else that what we do, what we say in this industry matters. So the next time you think you aren't contributing, think again. Our opinions, our voices, our say, our purchases make a difference because we have power.

Latest Purchases #53

Yes, that's Final Fantasy XIII you see in the photo. Stop hating. I've always wanted to check the game out for myself and judge it based off my own personal experiences. Sometimes this practice works out well. Other times it doesn't (Mega Man X6 and X7 spring to mind), but I decided to take the plunge anyway. It was only $15 at Walmart. I can already hear many reading this saying that I still paid too much.

And we have the first 3DS game I've picked up off the shelf since December 2012. With most new 3DS games going for $40, I'm less inclined to frequently pick up titles but for Animal Crossing: New Leaf, well, I was just gonna have to part with that $40. Or so I thought. This is one of those first party games that is selling for $34.99, just like Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D. I'm glade Nintendo decided to cut us some slack on some of those prices.

Got myself yet another coin bank. My previous one was a big glass jar with now lid. This one is a plastic jar with a lid that actually counts my coinage. I've had my eye on this thing since December. Family Dollar carries it for over $6. I'd almost forgotten about it until I saw it in Walmart for less than $4. It really does pay to do your shopping elsewhere sometimes.