Uncharted Waters was my favourite back in the day, and still is among the best games I’ve ever played. The other Mega Drive game I really liked was Dune II. It’s not as timeless in itself, but it was the game that practically started the RTS genre, laying its foundations – resource gathering, various buildings each serving its purpose, tactical command of groups of units… Based on an amazing series of novels, Dune throws us in the sandy world of Arrakis, full of danger, sand worms and… spice melange. And the one who controls the spice, controls the universe. The three houses you could pick from were the noble Atreides, the shady Ordos and the evil Harkonnen. It figures that the most badass of the three victory themes (although all three were awesome), was the Harkonnen one. And it’s the one I’m sharing today.
Composers: Frank Klepacki, Paul S. Mudra, Dwight K. Okahara
Game: Dune: The Battle for Arrakis
Song: Harkonnen Rules
While I really liked the Streets of Rage series, I never actually played any of them on my own Mega Drive. I only bought games that would last me longer. And my most favourite of them all was a historical gem by Koei called Uncharted Waters: New Horizons. It was a seafaring RPG set in the 16th century, and you could pick among 6 characters, each with his/her own story to follow – practically, the game stayed fresh for at least 6 playthroughs! New Horizons was something amazing for its time with its elaborate world map representing our world extremely well, and the deep, but easy enough to understand mechanics covering plenty of aspects like sea battles, one-on-one duels, port economy, trading, country alliances, wars, piracy… The list goes on.
New Horizons was a game I invested a good several hundreds of hours into, and that speaks enough of its quality. It’s a simulation and RPG into one – you don’t NEED to follow your character’s story, you can just roam the seas and sink enemy ships or explore the entire world at your leisure. I know how much fun I had making a badass pirate out of the Italian adventurer Pietro Conti who has the lowest Courage stat among the 6 you can choose from. And speaking of Pietro, it’s his theme that I chose to share with you this week. Enjoy!
Composer: Yoko Kanno
Game: Uncharted Waters: New Horizons
Song: Theme of Pietro
P. S. Yes, the composer is THE Yoko Kanno, who would later become quite famous for her work on anime series like Macross, Cowboy Bebop, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, etc.
By popular demand, here is another Metal Gear song, this time from Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots – the amazing conclusion to the best saga in gaming, the Metal Gear saga. The song I’ve chosen is composed by Harry Gregson-Williams and is named as the game’s subtitle – “Guns of the Patriots”. And part of this theme is surely quite familiar to everyone who has as much as put the disc inside their PS3.
Composer: Harry Gregson-Williams
Game: Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
Song: Guns of the Patriots
Next week’s song will not be from Metal Gear, that’s a promise.
This week’s game music is rather special – it’s my favourite song from my favourite video game soundtrack… Castlevania: Symphony of the Night was a single-disc game and, if you put the CD in your computer, you would notice that about 3/4 of the data on it was the music! The sound quality was absolutely stunning, as well as the quality of the songs themselves. There were classical compositions, there were more modern sounding ones – they varied, but all were top-notch. There was even the neat bonus of an extra track if you put the game disc in your CD player.
The Tragic Prince plays in one of the best stages of the game, the Clock Tower. A fitting theme for the badass protagonist, Alucard, to show off his abilities and destroy his enemies.
Composer: Michiru Yamane
Game: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Song: The Tragic Prince
In line with my most recent review, the second video game music of the week is from an 8-bit classic. It’s the title screen theme from the excellent team fighting game Nekketsu Kakutou Densetsu, one of the amazing Nekketsu/Kunio games from Technos – my favourite series on the NES and still among my favourites even today. 8-bit music can be very impressive with how much composers have achieved with the extremely limited sound chip capacity available.
Composer: Kazuo Sawa
Game: Nekketsu Kakutou Densetsu
Song: Title Screen
For those like me working a desk job, and certainly for many others, music is a great part of our daily lives, making working, commuting or driving much more enjoyable. And video game fans love game music. I am no exception, as probably half of my Winamp collection consists of game tunes. They give me fuel to make it through the difficulties of everyday life.
I am starting a simple weekly series on this site – “Video Game Music of the Week.” Every week, I’ll post a video game theme which I really like and which is available on YouTube. I will try to maintain a certain level of diversity, which should not be too hard, considering how much good game music there is out there.
Game music covers many genres, with the most famous composers’ popularity overshadowing that of many game designers. And some game music pieces have achieved decent fame, but it’s usually been attached to the game they appeared in – a good song in a popular game would be far better known than an amazing song in a niche game. Most gamers know the Mario theme or “One-Winged Angel,” but not that many know “Heat Wave” from Bionic Commando. But that is hardly something to fret about – aren’t songs usually carried by the artists, too? It’s up to us to find good video game music even in not-so-well-known games.
This weekly feature’s goal is not to necessarily outline great music from less popular games while excluding the popular ones, but many of the entries will certainly be from games most gamers have not played. So please check back every week – you never know when a great theme could even prompt you to find and play its game!
Here is the first Video Game Music of the Week for 07-13.05.2012. It’s a theme by Yuki Kajiura, who is better known for her anime work (such as Noir, .hack//SIGN, Madlax, etc.), but she also did a truly magnificent job with the Xenosaga III OST, adding so much to an already incredible game. I hope you enjoy it!
Composer: Yuki Kajiura
Game: Xenosaga Episode III: Also Sprach Zarathustra
Song: Acute Neurosis Treatment Facility – Under Attack
One cannot avoid the feeling of sadness when a great story ends. In addition to the awe at the conclusion, one feels the bittersweet disappointment that now all the secrets have been unveiled and all the dots – connected. That is how I felt when I finished Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots – the final chapter of my favourite game series. Everything came together nicely, there was nothing more to be added… But Peace Walker proved that wrong.
Game: Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
Developer: Kojima Productions
Platforms: PlayStation Portable; PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 (as part of Metal Gear Solid HD Collection)
Releases: 2010 (PSP), 2011 (PS3/Xbox 360), 2012 (PS3/Xbox 360 – Europe)
Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker is the latest installment in the ground-breaking tactical espionage action series by Hideo Kojima. Built for the PSP, it is superior in every way to its handheld predecessor, Portable Ops, and Kojima himself and his trusty team were the ones working on its development from beginning to end (as opposed to the overseer role Kojima had with Portable Ops). Furthermore, with the game coming to consoles as part of the HD collection (and that was the version I played, too), it proved to be ambitious and well-made enough that one barely sees differences from the full-blown console Metal Gear Solid titles.
Fans of the series will certainly love this one, and even people completely new to it will be pleased. Peace Walker keeps the core gameplay we’ve come to know and love, and also takes some interesting new approaches that help the game feel fresh and exciting even to Metal Gear veterans. And it’s another chapter of the story of Big Boss – one of the most badass, awe-inspiring game characters to have ever existed.
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The best time to write a review for a game is after you’ve recently finished it, while it’s still fresh in your mind. I’ll usually stick to that rule on this site. My second review is of the Shin Megami Tensei: Persona PSP remake.
Game: Shin Megami Tensei: Persona
Platform: PlayStation Portable
Release: 2009 (PSP remake)
Original release: 1996 (PlayStation)
I decided to get into the Persona series after I read unimaginable amounts of praise for the third and fourth installments on just about every game forum I’ve visited. And since I like being able to play through a series and observe its development in every next installment, I started at the first game, if by playing its PSP remake as opposed to the original PlayStation version.
Persona (or Revelations: Persona, as the original PS1 game’s name was) is a traditional JRPG by Atlus with turn-based combat. The game’s age certainly shows, with some of the mechanics being outdated, but there are also some very interesting ideas I had not seen before. The story is focused on psychology, if only on a fairly juvenile level, as the main characters are high school kids, still searching for their purpose in life.
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The time has come for my first review. For such a special occasion, I have chosen one of my favourite games of all time, Xenogears. Before I start, it should be known that my rating scale is in the 0-10 range, with 5 being average. I also do not give high scores very easily – for instance, only about 25 games I’ve played have earned a score of 9 or more in my eyes.
Platforms: PlayStation; PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation Vita (PSOne Classics)
Original release: 1998
Territories: Japan, North America
Xenogears is a science-fiction RPG by SquareSoft for PlayStation. The main writer and mastermind behind the game is Tetsuya Takahashi, who later also became known for the Xenosaga series and, more recently, Xenoblade Chronicles. The game is considerably long, even for an RPG, taking 60-80 hours to beat. It is a considerable investment of time.
Xenogears is also a complex game. But, even if you are not a big fan of games that make you think, do not let that scare you away. Playing an RPG, one expects a considerable focus on the story. In Xenogears, that is also correct, of course, but things are taken one, no, many steps further.
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