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Saturday, December 8, 2018

Favorite Tunes #248: Ultimate Listening

So yeah, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate just came out and spoiler alter, the game is freaking awesome! This week of Favorite Tunes is all about the music from the latest installment in Nintendo's mega crossover.

Special thanks to Cat with Monocle for the awesome Smash Ultimate wallpapers. Check them out here and use them to decorate your PC, laptop or phone.

I started playing The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker around the same time I played Brawl. Wind Waker really built my appreciation for Toon Link and when I unlocked him in Brawl, he became my favorite Link to use. My first exposure to the Molgera boss theme was through Brawl, which was one of the main reasons I loved playing Toon Link's stage. I was devastated when the Molgera music didn't return for Smash Wii U. Thankfully, this mistake has been corrected. Ultimate gives us a glorious remix to one of my favorite Wind Waker songs. I don't know if the original Molgera theme is in Ultimate or not, but this arrangement is so good that I have no problems if this is the only Molgera theme we get. 

The Super Smash Bros. games are about blasting famous gaming icons off the screen, yes. However, the games are also about the rich history of famous as well as not-so-famous games. Scroll through My Music and you'll probably spot a few tracks from games you don't recognize. I came across some of the original 8-bit music from Yuyuki a few years back. Listening to this arrangement makes me wish Nintendo would bring us some of their more obscure titles.

I have been wanting a Sand Ocean remix in Smash for the longest time. Not only did I get my wish, the original SNES tune is also available in Ultimate. I've always felt that Sand Ocean doesn't get the love that Mute City, Big Blue or Port Town does and it is a real shame because its such a great tune and I'm pleased to see it get the attention it deserves in Ultimate.

The amount of musical love Mega Man has been given in Smash Ultimate is mind blowing. Wily Castle has over 25 tracks when booting the game up and more than several of them are brand new remixes. I was not expecting a Top Man remix but I will gladly take it. Meanwhile, Cloud is off crying in a corner because Midgar STILL only has two tracks. 

King Bowser - Super Mario Bros. 3 (New Remix) - Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (NES)
My favorite 2D Mario game is Super Mario Bros. 3 and I love, love, loooooove the Bowser battle music. Those bongo drums really do it for me. If I had to decide my favorite Boswer final battle theme, it would be tough to decide between this one and the one from Super Mario World. Naturally, when I found out there was an arrangement of Bowser's Super Mario Bros. 3 theme, I had to crank it all the way up on certain Mario themed stages. The themed also contains an arrangement of World 8 from the same game. The man himself, Koji Kondo, stepped in to arrange his own work. 

Who can forget the reveal of King K. Rool? I didn't see why everyone wanted him so badly in the Smash Wii U early days, but after using him in Ultimate, I'm very glad he's been included. I would have liked to have Dixie, but K. Rool makes an excellent third DK rep. Speaking of things that are excellent, do I even need to mention how amazing this new remix of Gang-Plank Galleon is? Those trumpets go in SO hard.

Favorite Tunes Database

Friday, December 7, 2018

4 Reasons to be Hyped to Play Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

One of, if not, the most anticipated game of 2018 has (officially) dropped today: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Like all of you, I have been playing and loving the game. Its actually been tough for me to make blog posts because I have to tear myself away from such an amazing game. There are tons of reasons to be stoked for Ultimate and while I could possibly list them all, the four below are the ones that really stick out in my mind.

01. So Many Fighters
"Everyone is Here!" Three words that made Super Smash Bros. fan go ballistic. You thought the previous Smash had a ton of fighters? Pfft. Please. The base game of Ultimate has a total of 74 fighters. Of course, when you first turn the game on, this won't be the case. In fact the fighter selection screen will look pretty bare, with only the original starting roster from the N64 Super Smash Bros. game being available. But the conditions for unlocking fighters has been streamlined so regardless of the mode you're playing be it Smash, Spirits or Mob Smash, you're bound to unlock fighters. Some might bemoan the fact that most of the cast isn't there from the get go, but it does give you something to work towards. Remember the days of Melee and Brawl when you had your game interrupted by an incoming challenger? The first few hours I spent with Ultimate made my face light up like a Christmas tree when I saw a silhouette of a fighter I really wanted. I really don't see how anyone could complain about X character not being in Ultimate when you have a fight roster this freaking huge. And the crazy thing is, more are on the way. None of us ever saw Joker coming (I don't care if that joke has been used a million times) but he's been revealed as our first DLC Smash Ultimate character. Truly this is the game that keeps on giving.

02. World of Light
There hasn't been an adventure mode in Smash quite as ambitious since Subspace Embassy in Brawl. Ultimate takes another stab at a huge adventure mode in the form of World of Light. While there aren't nearly as many cut scenes in World of Light as there were in Subspace Embassy, there are some sprinkled here and there. World of Light is nonetheless an engaging adventure mode. You start out as the sole surviving member of Galeem's massacre, Kirby, fighting to reunite the Smash cast, collecting spirits and battling it out with numerous bosses. Many of the fights have certain conditions to them such as enemies becoming quicker when they eat or some foes avoiding combat, forcing you to chase them down. This kinda thing keeps the many battles fresh.

03. Different Ways to Smash
Are you a competitive Smash player? Or maybe you don't mind having Pokemons spawning for a random bit of chaos. No matter what side of the fence you sit on, Ultimate gives you the most customization options of any Smash game. If you don't want to chase down a Smash Ball, you can enable Final Smash as a meter, albeit it a weaker version. Do you love the Wily Castle stage but hate Yellow Devil dropping in to take up a good chunk of the level? Stage hazards can now be turned off. You can even save your customized Smash options and edit them whenever you like. No matter your play style, Ultimate is sure to cater to you.

04. My Music
I. LOVE. VIDEO. GAME. MUSIC. Favorite Tunes is proof of that. The music in Smash Bros. not only consists of songs from other franchises and past entries in the series but a slew of brand new remixes and arrangements. And the amount of music in each Smash has only grown with each installment. Ultimate has over 900 tracks and the My Music feature that was introduced in Brawl has been buffed. Music is now tied to series so you can have Slider blasting on any Mario themed stage. The amount of selectable music on the Wily Castle stage makes me swoon as does the love for other Mega Man titles besides Mega Man 2. I never would have dreamed we would get an Ice Man, a Bomb Man, a Guts Man and a Fire Man arrangement, but five of the six Robot Masters in Mega Man got the audio love they deserve. There's even some killer remixes for Top Man and Snake Man! Then you've got all those sweet, sweet Castlevania tracks, many of which are so good, I'm having a hard time deciding just which ones I want to hear often. The Shop usually has more music you can pick up for a mere 300 coins per song. Can you guess what most of my money has been going to?

Monday, December 3, 2018

PlayStation Classic: Disappointment Awaits

Retro plug and play consoles are nothing new. AT Games has been plugging away at these things for around a decade. But in the last year or so, things have changed. Where as AT Games has been content to release abysmal plug and play systems featuring shoddy emulation, Nintendo raised the bar with the NES and SNES Classic mini consoles. These systems not only have a great selection of games as well as screen options but also sport outstanding emulation. Suffice to say that sub par efforts for the plug and play retro machines are no longer going to cut it. Sony has thrown their hat into the mini retro console ring with the PlayStaiton Classic, which releases today. With the success of the aforementioned Nintendo mini consoles, and Sony being behind the PS Classic,

When the trailer for the PS Classic was first revealed, things looked very promising. The system comes with two controllers, its much smaller than the original PlayStation and among the first games divulged were Metal Gear Solid, Tekken 3, Final Fantasy VII and R4: Ridge Racer Type 4, some of the best of the best games  that Sony's first system had to offer. Then, the remaining list of games came to light an it raised a lot of eyebrows. Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six? Freaking Battle Arena Toshinden? No Resident Evil 2, no Twisted Metal 2, not a single Crash Bandicoot or Spyro game, nothing from the Ace Combat series. Not a single space shoot 'em up to be found (at least in the North American and PAL versions) and of all the fighting games, Sony went with Battle Arena Toshinden, one of the worst games in the genre on the system. Soul Blade and Street Fighter Alpha 3 are off weeping in a corner. After the full game list reveal, things only went further downhill.

Early hands on play reported lousy emulation. There are no screen filter adjustment options. The user interface, while paying homage to the original PS blue screens looks bland and very uninspired. However, what prompted people to stat throwing dirt onto the coffin was when they learned that nine of the games would be the PAL versions and among those nine titles was Tekken 3. Are you freaking kidding me? You're asking us to play Tekken 3, one of the fastest, smoothest running games on the PS at a measly 50hz? People had already begun canceling preorders for the PS Classic and with this news, even more followed.

The user interface of the PS Classic. Sure, it is
nostalgic, but also yawn inducing. 
You know when your child does something that doesn't please you or something that you don't approve of and they ask if you're angry? You're undoubtedly not happy with what they've done and that is clearly shown by your facial expression as well as your body language. Yet you aren't angry. Instead you respond to them with the tried and true "I'm not angry. I'm just disappointed." That is precisely how I feel about the PS Classic.

The PS was born out of some very bad blood between Sony and Nintendo. I'm sure many of you already know that Sony was to partner with Nintendo to created a CD based system but Nintendo didn't like the idea of Sony having so much control in this deal so they went behind their back and partnered with Philips, publicly humiliating Sony when the Big N announced their new deal during the 1991 Consumer Electronics Show. Sony then tried to partner with SEGA to make a console but when that fell threw, they decided to go solo and create the sleek gray box we all fell in love with.

Even the best games on the PS Classic aren't immune from performance
issues due to less than stellar emulation.
With the original PS, Sony found great success in the gaming market. 3D games were helped realized thanks to the PS and Sony showed that they were a serious force to be reckoned with. As an added bonus, Sony got sweet, sweet, revenge on Nintendo for stabbing them in the back. Because Nintendo did them dirty, the Big N actually created one of their biggest rivals. Not only did PS outsell the N64 (by a huge margin) but the SEGA Saturn as well, being the market leader for the fifth as well as the sixth console generation.

The original PS is where it all began for Sony. So to see the PS Classic turn out to be such a mess is truly appalling. I can't help but think the pitiful state the PS Classic released in is due to Sony's current position, which is once again the market leader with the PS4. When Sony is on top, they tend to be very arrogant and make mistakes. The PS3 struggled during the first few years of it's life due to Sony's massive ego with it's high price point. Multiplatform games ran better on the 360 and the Wii ended up kicking the PS3's teeth in. The PS Classic is the very definition of a cash grab, showing how little Sony care's about their legacy. Digital Foundry has an excellent video that I've posted below that goes into the major technical aspects of why the PS Classic is such a disappointment, so I  highly recommend you check it out. If you want to get a loved one a retro gaming compilation steer clear of the PS Classic. There are far better options out there.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Favorite Tunes #247: Nah-Nah

This list is the Favorite Tunes of December 1, 2018. Kirby, Sonic, Fighting EX Layer. Go now and enjoy great listening! (I wanted to take a stab at some Engrish.)

Nature's Navel - Kirby Star Allies (NS)
The latest entry in the Kirby franchise initially got flack due to the its short length and high price point. Yes, the game is on the short side and $60 is a little too rich for my blood, but HAL has continued to support the game after release with free DLC waves of new playable characters such as Marx, Magalor and Gooey to name a few. The latest batch of free DLC characters includes fan favorite, Susie from Kirby: Planent Robobot.

Luminous Forest - Sonic Forces (PS4, NS, XBO, PC)
Sonic Forces isn't great, but it isn't an abomination of a Sonic game that sets the series back to the dark age either. I enjoyed my time with it as I did the soundtrack. I'm getting the feeling that techno and electronic music with heavy synth isn't a lot of people's cup of tea. The synth in particular is used a lot the music of Sonic Forces and that may detract from the score for some. Me, I love this game's soundtrack as whole.

Katamari Nah-Nah - Katamari Damacy (PS2)
If you didn't play Katamari Damacy when it originally came out on the PS2 back in 2004, I highly recommend you snag Katamari REROLL for the Switch and PC. I don;t think there is a better game that involves the action of rolling. Ever. Not only is the game brilliant in it's simplicity but the soundtrack is freaking awesome. This is just the first song in the game and it only gets better from here. I feel so envous of anyone that is gonna play this game for the first time when it hits the Switch and PC on December 7th.

Title Theme - Super Mario Party (NS)
After two games where all players were stuck traveling on a board in a vehicle, Super Mario Party finally allows players to travel the board solo once again. There are also more playable characters from the mook side such as Goomba and Hammer Bro. Now if only Nintendo would fix their online service and give Super Mario Party better online options. Well, at least this title theme makes me feel like I'm dancing on a beach in a Hawaiian shirt.

Mist Fortress - Fighting EX Layer (PS4)
The EX games have gotten such a bad rep. Sure they aren't the pinnacle of Street Fighter but they aren't bad by any means. Developed by Arika, the Street Fighter EX games includes a host of original characters and it was due to this that many believed we would never see the likes of Skullomanoa or Garuda again. Arika surprised us when news let out of Fighting EX Layer, the first game in the EX series since Street Fighter EX on the PS2 in 2000. The same crew behind the outstanding EX soundtracks has reunited for the music in EX Layer, resulting in another stellar effort.

Asteroid Run - Assault Suits Valken (Album)
Also know as Cybernator outside of Japan. This is from the arranged album simply called Assault Suits Valken. Like many arranged game albums of the time, it stayed in Japan and to this day, has never been reprinted. The music in the SNES game sounded fantastic and this album makes it sound just as good, if not better.

Favorite Tunes Database

Thursday, November 29, 2018

RIP Nintendo Creators Program

Ding dong, the witch is dead! Which old witch? The Nintendo Creators Program witch! And I think I speak for everyone when I say, it's about frickin' time.

The Nintendo Creators Program was like a noose around the neck of any YouTube content creator that wanted to make videos featuring the Big N's games. The gist of it is that, anyone that wanted to make videos with Nintendo's games had to give a good chunk of the money they made off their videos over to Nintendo. And that's IF you were a part of the program. If you weren't you pretty much weren't making any money off of any game that Nintendo developed. This draconian stance towards content creators and YouTube as a whole, actively encouraged many to not even touch Nintendo's games on the platform. I guess Hell must have frozen over, because in what appears to be one of the best decisions the company has ever made (outside of making excellent games) they have decided to ax the Nintendo Creators Program. Sure, there are some basic guidelines content creators have to follow but the good and great thing about it is, the Nintendo Creators Program is DEAD!

I'm not even a YouTube content creator and I've always thought the Nintendo Creators Program was bullocks. Nintendo is a game company that is filthy, disgustingly rich and since 2015 with the establishment of this program, they were taking money away from those that had far less cash than they did. One of the channels I started watching a year ago had to stop making let's plays with Nintendo's games because they weren't part of the stupid program and that came as a low blow because seeing them play and comment on a lot of Nintendo games never failed to make me laugh. With the program going bye-bye, hopefully, the channel brings back Nintendo content.

Not only is the good news for current YouTube content creators , but this is also good news for future and up and coming content creators. Nintendo makes outstanding games it it was such a shame that many people weren't able to cover them due to Nintendo's moronic policies. Whoever decided to finally pull the plug on the Nintendo Creators Program, my hats off to you. It will not be missed.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: Beware of Leaks

We're very close to the release of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. My copy of the game is paid off and I have the 6th and 7th of December off so I can go to the midnight release and enjoy the game all day on Friday. Hype levels are through the roof. Yet, as excited as I am to play Smash Ultimate, I'm content to wait until release day to experience the game and see so much of the new material first hand. However, because we cannot have nice things, the game was leaked and some that have gotten their hands on game were all too eager to stream it and uploads all kinds of spoilers on the interwebs.

I hate leaks. Like, I really. Freaking. HATE. LEAKS. Because people so desperately want to have 15 seconds of fame, they've leaked as much info about the finished game that they possibly can. Ughhhh. Is short lived fame really worth putting spoilers out there? Personally, I don't think it is, but this is just coming from someone that loathes leaks.

Thankfully, I've managed to avoid these leaks but the fact that they are out there is nonetheless, upsetting. I've read comments from some saying that World of Light cut scenes have been uploaded, and even some music was leaked on YouTube, which has resulted in the termination of channel administrators Cruchii and Dystiyzer, which were some good sources for game music. I've even done my best to refrain from being spoiled by avoiding music, though some newer remixes have popped up in my recommended video section.

Anyone that is heavy into the gaming scene knows much of an iron grip Nintendo has when it comes to protecting their IPs. If these people thought there would be zero consequences for  pirating Smash Ultimate and leaking info on the game, they couldn't have been more wrong. Judging from Nintendo's swift action dealing with this situation, I'm gonna guess that some of the famous Nintendo Ninjas are in the offices as well as out on the field.

These leaks also suck for the developers of Smash Ultimate. Masahiro Sakurai and his team have worked so hard on this game but because people are thirsty for views, they hop on the bandwagon and spread the leaked info and music tracks like wildfire. I think Daddy Sakurai would want us to wait until the game releases and discover all this content for ourselves on our own and not flock to a YouTube or Twitch channel and have someone else ruin the experience. Unfortunately the "can't wait" mentality is just too strong, especially in the digital age where information is dished out so quickly. 

I consider it a miracle when something about a game isn't leaked. Do you remember how hype the Smash Ultimate portion of Nintendo's E3 was? "Everyone is Here!" That video that revealed to the world that everyone from every Smash prior was gonna be in Ultimate. How much of our enthusiasm would have been deflated had we already known about what Sakurai showed us along with freaking Ridley? There would be quite a number of dull reaction videos on YouTube, I can tell you that.

If you're something that is trying to avoid these leaks, use your social media accounts with caution or just follow Omni's advice and stay off the internet.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Favorite Tunes #246: Gaming's First Vocal Track

It only took 246 entries but at long last, we have a Favorite Tunes that features the very first vocal track in the history of video games. Some of you may already know what game it comes from but for those of you that don't you just may be surprised. Or not. *shrugs*

Psycho Soldier Theme (ENG) (JPN) - (ARC)
Gaming music with vocals is common place today. The very first game to feature a vocal track was SNK's 1987 arcade release, Psycho Soldier. If you've played the King of Fighters games, you've probably heard an arranged version of the Psycho Soldier theme. The lyrics are cheesy and the singing (especially in the English version) isn't great but the song itself is pretty catchy and I've caught myself singing it recently. With the release of SNK 40th Anniversary Collection, I suspect this song will reach the ears of even more people.

China (Psycho Soldiers Team) - The King of Fighters '94 (ARC)
The first entry in the long running KOF series. KOF games brings together characters from SNK's numerous franchises both post and pre NEO-GEO era. They may be sporting new designs and different clothes but make no mistake, the members of Team Psycho Soldier are the very same from the 1987 arcade game, Psycho Soldier. I imagine KOF '94 might have been the first time some gamers ever heard a variation of the Psycho Solider theme.

Celadon City Theme - Pokemon Let's Go Pikachu/Evee (NS)
I don't think there has ever been a more divisive Pokemon game. You've got those looking forward to this gen 1 remake and those that want nothing to do with it because it caters to the Pokemon Go crowd. Let's Go brings about a number of changes such as the removal of random battles and overall makes the game easier, which doesn't sit too well with the core Pokemon fanbase. I'm just happy to her some more arranged Pokemon music. I don't think Celadon City as ever sounded so good.

Turquoise Paradise - For  Foilage Furnace Act 1 - Sonic After the Sequel (PC)
Considered one of the best Sonic fan games, Sonic After the Sequel (the sequel to Sonic Before the Sequel) plays a lot like the Genesis games but has audio that is far outside of the 16-bit system's limitations. I haven't played it but I have listened to the soundtrack numerous times and it is on par with Tee Lopes' work.

Megalovania - Undertale (PC, PS4, NS)
I haven't been checking around, so I gotta ask, is it still popular to hate on Undertale? Not that I really care, I'm just curious. Anyhoo. Saying this particular track is a huge fan favorite would be a massive understatement. I mean, this sucker is about to crack 70 million views in the link that I've placed above. It probably isn't a spoiler at this point, but I still like to avoid ruining things for people, so if you wish to play Undertale unspoiled, don't click the song link above. But if you want to hear this track in game, you better be prepared to kill everything and everyone you come across.

Main Theme: Lifelight - Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (NS)
Piranha Plant was one of the biggest reveals during the final Smash Ultimate Direct. Thank Daddy Sakurai killed off (almost) everyone and hit us with this oh-so lovely lyrical version of the game's main theme. This isn't the first time the Smash games have gotten a main theme with vocals. There was one in Brawl that was sung in Latin, but this theme, man, THIS THEME! I did not think it was possible for me to get anymore excited for the release of Smash Ultimate but this theme has me beyond jazzed. I am so ready for World of Light.

Favorite Tunes Database