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This week we continue our countdown of the greatest 25 NES soundtracks ever made. If you missed last week, please click here.

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Listen: Bloody Tears

  1. Castlevania 2: Simons Quest / Composers: Satoe Terashima and Kenichi Matsubara / Release Year :1988

There are those who argue in favor of the soundtrack Castlevania 3: Dracula’s Curse over Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest. I’m not among this camp…not at all. While still excellent, Castlevania 3’s musical accompaniment somehow feels forced. You can’t shake that disease: the sinking feeling that it has been worked over numerous times, changed hands, redrafted then abandoned, then yet again further retuned; the band has simply been playing too long. It tends to happen when you’ve been commissioned to follow up the sounds of a genre landmark, a masterpiece: everything bitter.

Simon’s Quest, as judged solely by its accompaniment, is an invariably fascinating narrative, where every hundred to thousand listens only enhances the nature of its perfectly metered, yet fleeting couplets. In theory, simplicity such as this usually begs some level of ephemera, but it is that same concise use of assonance, that fluidity of the tongue that extends its lifespan infinitely. Simon’s Quest, more so than residing incumbent entries or past manipulators, equips the series with a true identity, and makes incalculable inroads on every single sound made in its name going forward.

More proof? How many more times can you possibly remix Bloody Tears?

You see my point.

Essential Tracks: Bloody Tears / Message Of Darkness / Monster Dance (night theme) / A Requiem (ending) / Silence Of Daylight / Within These Castle Walls

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Listen: Transmission Screen

  1. Strider / Composer: Harumi Fujita / Release Year: 1989

One of the more unlucky recipients within the late 80’s Strider trifecta (part manga, part arcade game, part original NES title) had to be the team behind Strider NES. The game, completely stripped of ALL the glamour of the headlining arcade machine, being piloted by a truly baffled collective left to interpret the still burgeoning, unwritten lore, and minus ALL the trademarks of a then single entry series, would make any sane individual reach for their transfer form, or at worst, accept terms of severance from the company. The story of NES Strider’s island of mock-ups and submission rejection letters remains an untold legend.

Despite the numerous setbacks and the scant prickly thistle with which they were given to work with, Strider NES was an ambition given light by the smallest band of only the most zealous of believers within Capcom. Composer Harumi Fujita makes her unforgettable, one of a kind monotype print from a combination of every scattered, impossible, and nonplussed moment: a scramble to set tone and create enough plausibility for Strider Hiryu to exist in the frame.

Fujita drags in every last favor ever owed to her, making adjustments and taking payouts in real time, forcibly projecting her still gargling sing-song onto Hiryu. It’s an INCREDIBLE ride as she’s unfazed and ready to set over the top of Strider’s world, whatever the moment brings, whether a conscious stream or a rambling cuckoo’s nest of flying irrelevant debris. Scope is not something Strider is left wanting, and Fujita’s lens has covered the world, all of it, brilliantly.

Pyramids, future world, dictators, red dragons…Africa: whatever, just toss it on the pile, and give her a minute.

Essential Tracks: Transmission ScreenKazakh Theme / China Theme / Africa theme / Red Dragon Theme / Title Theme

A break next week, but the list comes ever closer to the end.

Happy 4th of July everyone! Go play some NES!

——————–

Having fallen in love only 4 times in his life Geno counts Double Dragon as his second and truest love. He has worked in record retail since 2000 and believes David Hayter to be the one true Solid Snake. Currently, he is putting together a band which only perform songs from Street Fighter 3rd Strike.

E3 is the worst, and here’s why: it gets me excited for the end of summer. With all the terribleness we go through each non-summer in Minnesota, I expect to languish and linger in the long, warm days and forget about cold weather. Yet each summer, E3 pulls out its carrot on a stick and forces me to anticipate the Season Which Can’t Be Named.

So here’s a shout out to the games I’m looking forward to playing when the snow comes:

FALLOUT 4 FALLOUT 4 FALLOUT 4 FALLOUT 4444444444444444444444444444444444

Fallout-4-Fallout-Logo

I’m excited for that one…

Seriously, Fallout 3 is one of my favorite games ever. Never mind that my first playthrough was short because I didn’t realize I was ending the game. My second, third, fourth, fifth playthroughs were just fine. Holy s**t that game was amazing. I can’t wait for Fallout 4.

In fact, in the meantime, I’ve been playing the mobile/tablet game Fallout Shelter. If you’ve not picked it up yet, you must. It’s like a tower sim, only you’re the Overseer of a Vault (number is your choice). I have 42 dwellers at the moment, although several are dead following a pretty intense radroach infestation. I can revive them once I make enough caps. The graphics and audio are top notch, and someday, when my dwellers are successful enough, I can build a Nuka-Cola plant. WHO WOULDN’T WANT THAT?!

Next level of excitement: Destiny: The Taken King. I hate that I love Destiny. I really do. The initial DLC, with the Crota raid, was short and annoying. The next bout of DLC with Petra and the House of Wolves is amazing and I’ve had a great time getting back into the routine of the game. The upcoming DLC this fall, The Taken King, has received some well-deserved bad press, but looks amazing. I hope they fix that price point, or find a way demonstrate that they (might) care about those of us who’ve been there from the beginning… it remains to be seen.

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The introduction of three new classes? Yes. Sign me up. My favorite Destiny class is the Warlock, and I look forward to the new super power she’ll receive.

Believe it or not, I’m pumped about the new Call of Duty. Please don’t hate. Call of Duty: Black Ops III might be a good time. I was always more fond of the Treyarch iterations of CoD. I can’t say I’m too excited about doing multiplayer with 12 year olds who now have cyber abilities, but a four-player co-op campaign might be fun (if it’s longer than 8 hours or so).

I’m SUPER pumped about Housemarque’s new game, Alienation. The makers of Dead Nation and Resogun seem to always delight with their downloadable titles. Alienation is supposed to come out this year, but no date is set yet.

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I’ll pick up Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection so I can replay the first three Uncharteds before the 4th comes out in 2016. I feel like I was mostly alone in my overall dislike of the third game – I like the first 2 the best. It’ll be nice to get back into that series – it’s been a while since I climbed around as Nathan Drake.

My biggest surprise, however, comes in my excitement for Nobunaga’s Ambition: Sphere of Influence. I don’t know a single thing about this franchise, proving my disappointing ignorance in gaming firsts (it’s one of the first sims from thirty years ago) but this game looks amazing. Several years back, I went through a stint of sims when Civilization: Revolution came out for PlayStation. I think I’ll heartily enjoy Nobunaga.

Well, what are you excited for this <shudder> fall/winter?

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Emily Reese is an on-air host for Classical Minnesota Public Radio. She is also the host and producer for Top Score, Classical MPR’s podcast about video game soundtracks, and created MPR’s Listening to Learn series. She earned an undergrad certificate in music education and jazz studies from the University of Colorado — Boulder, and a Master’s degree in music theory from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Emily lives in Twin Cities with her cat June Bug and loves gaming, with or without friends.

This week we continue our countdown of the greatest 25 NES soundtracks ever made. If you missed last week, please click here.

LAGRANGE POINT

Listen: Departure and Arrival

 

  1. Lagrange Point/ Composer: Akio Dobashi / Release Year 1991

A powerful piece of 80’s Japanese pop nucleus Rebecca, composer Akio Dobashi, now newly leased from the rigors of his record company following the group’s implosion, sought a refuge both immediate and vastly distant from his unraveling present. Unwilling to surrender, and perhaps caught amongst an avalanche of inter-band political disputes and documents foisted upon him thick with alien legalese, Dobashi voluntarily lost himself inside the work for Konami’s Lagrange Point.

Confrontation, long the hallmark of Konami’s established sound, was something lost on Dobashi. The expectation to dedicate all available midi rifles on the decoration of boorish action set pieces was turned instead to light tufts of airy meringue. Lagrange Point lies between the dulcet lyrical introspection of Paul Desmond’s indigo melancholy, and the smoldering psychedelic all-hours apothecary the likes of John Coltrane’s Interstellar Space. Despite this, Dobashi’s lines for Lagrange remain compulsively clean, leaving plenty of room for his melodies to gambol free of mother ship turbulence. Lagrange Point is Akio Dobashi’s final demarcation whose forward trajectory flies completely bereft of the weight of his colorful past… and all the more for it.

Essential Tracks : Satellite Base / Theme Of Iris / Physical Energy / Fighter’s Sadness / Fighter’s AwakenDeparture and Arrival / Fortified Zone / Last Fort – Bio Palace

Double Dragon 1

Listen: Mission 2

  1. Double Dragon / Composer: Kazunaka Yamane / Release Year: 1988

It has never been easy to speak of Double Dragon’s rapidly advancing age, but age it has. So much so, that I find it hard to comment on it with any sort of length when asked. It comes with loving something so intently for so long. And I’ve loved…Double Dragon’s the reason I am here now.

Once a record found specially, specifically sewn into the sleeves of my jacket, is now more in line with composer Jerome Kern’s tired, and receding standard The Folks Who Live On A Hill, than Walter Hill’s Warriors. It’s a lazy approximation at best, and one of contempt more driven by the fear of my own passing years, than anything laid within the grooves of its shock black vinyl. BUT. Shaking away those preconceived thoughts, the disaffected memories of some youth long gone, reveals much the savant in its composer Kazunaka Yamane. Double Dragon’s carefully earmarked mix of tracks STILL burns the back of the throat when ingested without caution. A prophet’s goulash of athletic tenor, staccato no-wave, and lowest-brow street funk, Yamane heard the sound of the genre in the oak, LONG before his imitators began bludgeoning his corpse for loose change. While the attraction may not draw the numbers it once did to its storied sights, it remains an essential cassette tape unaffected by warble, and ambivalent to the lost decades. Still snarling and all spittle: that’s my boy.

Essential Tracks: Mission Start / Mission 2 / Title Theme / Mission 1 / Secret Area (cave) / Mission 3 / Boss theme

The end is near, stay tuned!

——————–

Having fallen in love only 4 times in his life Geno counts Double Dragon as his second and truest love. He has worked in record retail since 2000 and believes David Hayter to be the one true Solid Snake. Currently, he is putting together a band which only perform songs from Street Fighter 3rd Strike.

This week we continue our countdown of the greatest 25 NES soundtracks ever made. If you missed last week, please click here.

mother

Listen: Dungeon Theme

13. Mother / Composers: Keiichi Suzuki & Hirokazu “Hip” Tanaka / Release Year :1989

Think loose and play faster! It’s how composers Keiichi Suzuki and Hirokazu Tanaka perform 1989’s NES classic Mother, like some fabled fear and loathing lost weekend dragging around in an addled stupor, down a couple grand, but with just enough energy to make the sunrise. Hilarious, strangely but beautifully cool, defiantly bohemian, and singularly offbeat, their instruments may have died in the making of this experiment, and the pair may have narrowly escaped with nothing more than mail order catalogs, but boy…that was some siesta. Mother’s score is the summit of a towering holy mountain.

Essential Tracks: Fallin in Love / Field Theme / Battle Theme 1 / Magicant’s Theme / Dungeon Theme / Live House Song

Final Fantasy Box Art

Listen: Title Theme

12. Final Fantasy / Composer: Nobuo Uematsu / Release Year: 1987

From every angle, and from any perspective, Nobuo Uematsu’s Final Fantasy has no equal rivals. Uematsu’s rudimentary foundation still stands statuesque, born of complexity, and far out measures the available pant sizes found within the NES sound storefront. These pieces push the hardware to limits of shattering exhaustion. For every second of film, our composer is at the reins charging harder and louder and longer than his previous now seemingly infantile siege. The sound of a man, turned new man, turned man alive. To quote the Pixies Black Francis, “Gigantic, gigantic a big, big love!”

 

Essential Tracks: Battle Theme / Garland Shrine / Matoya Cave / Airship Theme / Overworld Theme / Title Theme

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Listen: Little Mac Down

11. Mike Tyson’s Punch Out / Composers Yukio Kaneoka, Kenji Yamato and Akito Nakatsuka Release Year: October 1987

I once likened the soundtrack of Mike Tyson’s Punch Out to that of an operatic Cthulhu: a beast who will wow you with its vocal range, then devour your torso as you have been sufficiently hypnotized and possessed by its disease. Read into that what you will, but I still stand by that statement, as it aptly summarizes the work of our three composers going elbows deep into your brain matter, prodding, and testing…waiting for that one true desired Pavlovian response. Punch-Out remains an elixir of near perfect proportions ingested under the false guise of sugar water placebo, but once absorbed carries all the concentrated wallop of thousands of side effects in full play, all at once.

Everything in moderation.

Essential Tracks: Fight Theme/ Bicycle Training / Opening Title / MatchWon / Game Over

Stay tuned for the top 10!

——————–

Having fallen in love only 4 times in his life Geno counts Double Dragon as his second and truest love. He has worked in record retail since 2000 and believes David Hayter to be the one true Solid Snake. Currently, he is putting together a band which only perform songs from Street Fighter 3rd Strike.

My friend Holly was over the other night, and we were shopping around for games on the PlayStation store. Keeping an eye out for local co-op games, we stumbled across Beach Buggy Racing by Vector Unit. It’s a karting game, just like Mario Kart, and it’s soooooooooo worth the ten bucks (it’s on mobile devices too).

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There are multiple game modes, including split screen racing. Subsequent split-screen races have resulted in ridiculously close games, determined by whose bumper crossed the line at the most crucial instant, full of laughter, trash-talk, tears, anger and joy. I’ve experienced wins and losses determined by hundredths of a second.

The 25-plus power-ups do the usual; there’s dynamite (which only detonates if you hit or get hit by something), the “moon” power-up releases gravity so opponents fly up into the air, there’s a springboard you can drop, missiles you can fire, and a few varieties of boosts.

All the maps have shortcuts, of course. Some shortcuts live up to their name, others are amazing if you can pull them off, and the remainder are too risky to try depending on your speed. You can change out your character driver, each of which has his or her own special skill made to confuse, wreck or outrun opponents. You unlock each new driver by winning a boss race against him or her. These are tricky endeavors.

The cars range from lunar rovers to buggies to muscle cars and sports cars. I’m partial to the muscle car, although it’s not the fastest of the choices.

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Career mode takes you through a series of races, culminating with the boss fights at each stage, and as you upgrade your kart and win more difficult races, you earn more money, etc.

The championship mode consists of four stages of rally races for each car, but you need to have each car leveled up as you progress through the stages. It’s expensive, and there’s grinding involved. Players can earn money in races, however it’s not much unless you win, and even then, it’s slow-moving in the beginning.

Once I got my muscle car leveled up enough and learned the tracks, I discovered the best way to earn cash: Quick Race mode. My muscle car can race at the highest difficulty, and if I win (or shall I say, when I win), I receive 500 bucks to invest back into whichever car I choose.

Aside from already getting hours of split-screen mayhem in with my pals, I’ve played the heck out of this game on my own too. Best part – when Holly got home that night, she bought it. Her scores show up next to mine, and I keep finding all the races where she beat me so I can beat her back, even when we’re not playing together. It’s pure, innocent bliss to beat your friends, isn’t it?

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For some reason, LittleBigPlanet Karting didn’t do it for me when it came out. I can’t say why at this point, it’s been so long since I played it, but I guarantee it didn’t grab me like Beach Buggy Racing has. I’ve been longing for a game like this, and Vector Unit delivered.

The music is clever and fun, although I turned it off. It’s not unusual for me to turn off music in a game if the music serves no other purpose than to exist. The music in BBR doesn’t tip me off to any events, so it’s unnecessary to my success as a player (haha! But true). Therefore, I’ve been enjoying the viola da gamba suites by J.S. Bach – a suitable soundtrack for racing!

Or listen to whatever music you’d like. As far as Beach Buggy Racing goes, buy it. Play it. Love it!

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Emily Reese is an on-air host for Classical Minnesota Public Radio. She is also the host and producer for Top Score, Classical MPR’s podcast about video game soundtracks, and created MPR’s Listening to Learn series. She earned an undergrad certificate in music education and jazz studies from the University of Colorado — Boulder, and a Master’s degree in music theory from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Emily lives in Twin Cities with her cat June Bug and loves gaming, with or without friends.

This week we continue our countdown of the greatest 25 NES soundtracks ever made. If you missed last week, please click here.

Snake's Revenge

Listen: Searchlights Searchlights and Sentries

15. Snake’s Revenge / Composer : T Ogura / Release Year 1990

Despite Snake’s Revenge being a sloppily ill-coordinated takeover of creator Hideo Kojima’s legendary series (shame this wouldn’t be the last time), it does retain one truly remarkable asset, composer’s T Ogura’s largely, criminally overlooked score sheets. Half a collection of snapshots of some stillborn Bayou Billy sequel and half a mixture of dashes comprised of Life force, Commando, and Contra, Ogura’s compositions cleanse the palette, clearing the slate of the previous decade of Konami soundtracks. This track-list isn’t something that could have been developed in 1986, 1987 or 1988, and it plays fixatedly reaching towards this new decade (you can actually hear it on Searchlights and Sentries). Ogura employs grandiose 17 piece drum sets, where every cymbal has some form of resolute purpose, and hires in excess of a hundred plus session players all contracted specifically to play some VERY heavy bass. There’s so much lobbing about of the thick and heavy, that it’s amazing they were able to stamp and package its contents into something so small, gray and ordinary.

Welcome to the 90‘s.

Essential Tracks: First Mission / Searchlights and Sentries / Boss Battle /

Enemy Train / Metal Gear Fortress / Surrender Theme / Underground Theme

nes_gyromite

Listen: Game A Music

14. Gyromite / Composer: Hirokazu “Hip” Tanaka / Release Year: 1985

To Hirokazu Tanaka, 1985 perhaps felt no different than any other year, as his order of day went blessedly unaltered. Up he went sometime about 3 A.M, he’d score out hundreds of sonic billboard legends until around noon, maybe a short ride in the country then a return to tinkering until 2 A.M. where he’d begrudgingly sit (not lie) and catnap, his hands still pressed against the keyboard should the mood strike pre R.E.M. sleep. He’d done it for years; this particular Wednesday saw no cause for alarm. It was just Gyromite.

If you can name it, and it’s NES, chances are Tanaka wrote it, half lucid but STILL dreaming. It’s what separates him from EVERYONE else: That one eye open, one eye shut, never a foot in either plane, all dream, but somehow manifested on very real 8-track reels. In 1985, Tanaka seized the opportunity afforded him by Gyromite’s spastic, haywire hard lines, and one by one, inch by inch, volunteered to unknot the bedraggled mess of coils and strands now somehow impenetrably fused together.

This is at the precipice of the NES, and Gyromite is a crude, oafish and unreceptive choir to Tanaka’s gorgeously resuscitated harmonies. In a gaming music landscape still vastly littered with the likes of Atari’s soulless bleeping Morse-code long-players, Tanaka openly fought the rot, and taught the hardware to sing: bright combinations, doubled keys, and looping scales. It’s all basic, but that makes it no less revolutionary. Sure, there might be others, but here, I’m counting it as a true first.

Essential Tracks: Game B Music / Title Theme / Game A Music / Phase Begin

Stay tuned!

——————–

Having fallen in love only 4 times in his life Geno counts Double Dragon as his second and truest love. He has worked in record retail since 2000 and believes David Hayter to be the one true Solid Snake. Currently, he is putting together a band which only perform songs from Street Fighter 3rd Strike.

emily1

Brian Trifon and Brian Lee White are a composing duo called Finishing Move Inc. These two weren’t on my radar until early this year, when I learned they were writing the soundtrack for Double Fine’s Massive Chalice.

If you’ve not heard their music for the game, take the opportunity to do so now. Massive Chalice is a turn-based strategy game (which means I’d be terrible at it). The narrative takes place over generations of heroes and warriors and such that you breed together, hoping that genetics will help you create more powerful characters and such.

The game happens over the course of years and years, which presents an issue musically. The issue isn’t necessarily a problem, per se, but consider this: how music does represent a time and/or place in your own life?

It doesn’t have to be that way, of course. I had an interesting conversation recently with Paul Ruskay, the Homeworld composer, and he pointed out two varieties of soundtracks for sci-fi: the John Williams Star Wars orchestral approach, and the Vangelis Blade Runner synthetic approach.

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Massive Chalice isn’t sci-fi, however Finishing Move (the Brians) still needed to figure out a way to write a timeless-sounding score with elements that reflect the narrative itself. As a player, you’re controlling characters like alchemists and hunters in a game with “chalice” in the title. All signs point to medieval-ish castle-y type settings, right?

Finishing Move accomplished this through a blend of acoustic plucked things (like guitars, mandolins, etc), piano, drums, synths and many others.

In the Thick of It” is a great example, because you get both right off the bat. For my ears, the drums alone can make the connection to that fantasy-type setting. The plucked instruments are icing on the cake.

The Main title track, “Timeworn”, defies a lot of this logic (if you want to call it that), containing mostly electric guitar. Still with the drums, though. I love the heavy (use of) electric guitars here, and I like the tonality with the lowered 6th scale degree and the major third in there – good stuff.

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The People’s View is super. First of all, the interval of an ascending fifth is a recurring theme throughout the soundtrack, and you hear the deeply human sound of string instruments like violin and cello, playing that ascending fifth over and over again. It’s a mournful sound, but sheesh it’s lovely.

Here’s a super nerdy thing I enjoy: I like the modulations, you know, how they change keys sometimes and stay in a different key for a while before heading back to the main key for the loop. It happens in a couple tracks, and I’m not kidding, this is something you don’t often hear in video game music. Wanna know why? I’ll tell you! So video game music loops, right? And it takes a certain amount of time to establish a key, which we as listeners like – we want to know, oh, we’re in a major key or a minor key and this is home. Given that it takes this “amount” of time to convey to listeners that a piece of music is in a specific key, it takes a certain amount of time to move to another key. And after you hear that new key, the composer has to make it back to the original key to make the loop work. w00t!

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Anyway, as I said, Finishing Move employs this technique in a couple tracks, and here’s one: “To Battle!

Have you played Massive Chalice? Sadly, I have not. This music makes me want to, though, even though I really would be horrible at it. Spend some time today and listen to Finishing Move’s music for Massive Chalice!

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Emily Reese is an on-air host for Classical Minnesota Public Radio. She is also the host and producer for Top Score, Classical MPR’s podcast about video game soundtracks, and created MPR’s Listening to Learn series. She earned an undergrad certificate in music education and jazz studies from the University of Colorado — Boulder, and a Master’s degree in music theory from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Emily lives in Twin Cities with her cat June Bug and loves gaming, with or without friends.

Five Worlds Cover

Original themes by BAFTA award-winning composer Jesper Kyd
available for purchase in-game, digital download and streaming

Sumthing Else Music Works, the premier record label dedicated to video game soundtracks, and Plarium, one of the world’s fastest growing developers of social and mobile games, presents a new concept soundtrack album, “Five Worlds of Plarium” featuring the original themes composed by Jesper Kyd for Plarium’s major game worlds. With over 130 million registered users, Plarium is consistently ranked among Facebook’s top hardcore game developers. Kyd is internationally renowned for his iconic music from the historical action-adventure series Assassin’s Creed.

Five Worlds of Plarium” is a unique compilation album comprising Jesper Kyd’s distinct and yet musically diverse soundtrack themes spanning all five of Plarium’s game worlds – from sailing the high seas in Pirates: Tides of Fortune™ to the mystical world of ancient Greece in Sparta: War of Empires™ and the dark medieval fantasy of Stormfall: Age of War, to the advanced military warfare of Soldiers Inc. and the apocalyptic sci-fi of Total Domination.

“Five Worlds of Plarium” will be available digitally on iTunes, Amazon.com, Sumthing.com and all major music streaming sites on June 2, 2015. Additionally, the album is also available to purchase in-game, launching today with Soldiers Inc.™ on Facebook.

“This album includes all the main themes I’ve written for Plarium’s games over the last couple of years,” said Jesper Kyd. “It’s a really diverse collection reflecting my interest in combining different music styles but they all share a sense of creative fun and adventure. I hope you will enjoy them as much as I did writing them.”

Track listing for the “Five Worlds of Plarium” album:

1. “Pirates – Tides of Fortune” (main theme)
2. “Hellas” (Sparta – War of Empires™)
3. “The Conquistadors” (Pirates – Tides of Fortune™)
4. “Outer Limits” (Total Domination™)
5. “Total Domination” (main theme)
6. “Meltdown” (Soldiers Inc.™)
7. “Zheng Shi Rising” (Soldiers Inc.™)
8. “Sparta – War of Empires” (main theme)
9. “Stormfall” (main theme from Stormfall: Age of War®)
10. “Barbarians & Dragons” (Stormfall: Age of War®)
11. “Soldiers Inc.” (main theme)

Music samples from “Five Worlds of Plarium” are streaming on SoundCloud and the album is available for order at Sumthing.com. Follow the album’s release and conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #5WorldsOfPlarium.

Plarium is dedicated to creating the best mobile and social experience for hardcore gamers worldwide. Their popular titles include Total Domination®, Pirates: Tides of Fortune™, Stormfall: Age of War®, Soldiers Inc.™, Sparta: War of Empires™, Total Domination: Reborn™ and Stormfall: Rise of Balur™ for iOS/Android. For more information, visit: http://plarium.com.

This week we continue our countdown of the greatest 25 NES soundtracks ever made. If you missed last week, please click here.

geno 1

Listen: Journey To Silius: Stage 2 / Blaster Master: Area 1

18. Blaster Master/ Journey To Silius / Composer: Naoki Kodaka/ Release Year/s 1988 and 1990 respectively

Despite everything contained within composer Naoki Kodaka’s recordings for 1988’s Blaster Master, and despite its master tapes indicating in bold that indeed these takes were the finalized project of some many years of work, Blaster Master’s score wouldn’t see total completion until Kodaka and developers Sunsoft released Journey To Silius two years later. The software titles may have been billed as separate projects and created under totally different guises, but their makeup and melody feel largely complementary, logical extensions of each other. Where Blaster Master is swathed in color, more lively, and purposefully artless, Journey To Silius is just the opposite, and plays MUCH more measured and alarmingly grey: a drastic departure from the swaddling clothes of its sibling. STILL. This is ONE single vision split across years, and when gathered together under one roof, it becomes plain that these once adjacent tenets have shared housing before, a line of string laid across the floor being all that separated them. Their matching collection of DNA, makes light of their trivial differences and begins to align and adhere with little fuss made between its molecules. The idea that these scores were sovereign unto themselves was simply an act of subterfuge through business enterprise. This is meant to be heard as a dual album, and one single, startling opus.

Essential Tracks: Blaster Master: Area 3 / Area 1 / Area 5 / Area 2

Essential Tracks: Journey To Silius : Title Theme / Stage 2 ThemeStage 3 ThemePrologue

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Listen: Ghosts and Goblins: Stage 1 Theme

17. Ghosts and Goblins / Composer: Ayako Mori / Release Year 1986

Composer Ayako Mori’s score for Capcom’s 1986 NES port for Ghost and Goblins, is an indurate drill of reverent Kumbaya simplicity. Mori, not one for lengthy conversation, prefers to illustrate Ghosts and Goblins as an extenuating figure: threadbare, with only a few largely garish and inconspicuous flourishes to fill out the soul of the dehydrated Goblins supplicants. It’s not about the excess of words, it’s about simple statements in the presence of something celestial. Here, Mori places most of her emphasis in Ghosts and Goblins on the sound of stunned deferential gawp. This is a yokelish slack-jawed prayer that focuses on the repetition of single syllables of incantation instead of verbose, sputtering, winded sermons to ingrain its message. Mori’s is a voice both constant and droning, yet her reiterations, her unnecessary repetitions remain incredibly passionate, and likewise should be considered more than just some humble radio amplification…this is an invocation: follow the benediction, these are the words, hallelujah.

Essential Tracks: Stage 1 / Stage 4 / Stage 2

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Listen: Duck Tales: Himalayas Stage

16. Duck Tales / Composer: Hiorshige Tonomura / Release Year 1989

It’s with no considerable lack of graft that I imagine composer Hiroshige Tonomura went about the business of scoring Capcom’s 1989 Duck Tales. The television show on which it was based was mere weeks away from its production end. The idea of enticing its now aging original child audience to look back on Duck Tales both nostalgic and with some measure of retrospection at the curmudgeon age of 10, would be like asking them to provide pointed examples of alliteration throughout James Joyce’s Ulysses: They wouldn’t understand, and it’s never going to happen. This was the year of Batman, not Disney’s Scrooge McDuck. Armed with no tested or gorgeous simulacrum for Tonomura to imitate, and no template with which to vanquish this indifference, our composer ,tottering and disjointed, entered into the contract to conceive the compositions for Capcom’s Duck Tales. Despite the mood, Tonomura succeeded. The temptation may have been to score the game purely with saccharine: sickly glazed, aimless but irritatingly bright, like some condescendingly kaleidoscopic game of stick and carrot. Rather than insult though, Tonomura discards that caloric emptiness for genuine feeling, and succeeds in tapping into all the base emotions of a child: joy, fear, and love. Tonomura muses playfully, gently cajoling his skeptical onlookers to join him, no matter their imagined embarrassment on playgrounds and no matter their psychological need to fight their passing infancy. Tonomaru wants them to realize that there is nothing wrong with being incredibly young and that no harm will come to them for simply singing along. Ardent, funny and unapologetically warm, Tonomura’s recordings demonstrate just how effective tone of voice can be, no matter the passage of time.

Essential Tracks: Moon / African Mines / Transylvania / Amazon

Stay tuned next week as we continue the countdown.

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Having fallen in love only 4 times in his life Geno counts Double Dragon as his second and truest love. He has worked in record retail since 2000 and believes David Hayter to be the one true Solid Snake. Currently, he is putting together a band which only perform songs from Street Fighter 3rd Strike.

Outside and standing alone against the patio’s railing of a third-floor hotel room is a desperate father. The father stares out into the night’s sky, not caring for the tremble of the blowing trees or the rapid crashing of the pellets of rain. It’s raining again, and Ethan Mars has failed to find his missing son.

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This is the moment when I had to pause my gameplay to sweat over all of the choices I have been making in Heavy Rain. Did I make the right choice? Could I have made a different choice? Is there any hope for my character? The answer to all of these questions is a resounding, and encouraging, yes!

As a single-player detective game for the PS3 console, Heavy Rain is an interactive narrative-driver, but instead of running the script to its end, the player is capable of determining the direction and fate of each of its four characters. Each action or inaction from a character can cause the storyline to change thereafter. It’s crazy addicting, deciding the habits and motives of each character, and I think my favorite feature is that my overall decisions will impact and resolve the game in one of a multitude of different endings.

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I remember when I had to decide to undertake a critical assignment with Ethan Mars – to agree or disagree, thus influencing his role in the plot forever – and the sole reason that made his decision so deliciously dramatic was the music in the background.

Many of the music tracks in Heavy Rain are stimulating, moment-enhancers, but the strongest emotional ride of them all, the “thrumming of the soul’s chords,” is the track “Painful Memories“. The track drifts in and out with a piano’s gentle touch, and it’s somber sound captures the mood of the game perfectly. Composed by Normand Corbeil, who has also composed the soundtrack for Beyond: Two Souls, his performance in Heavy Rain’s soundtrack has allowed the player to digest and share in the difficulties that the characters have been dealing with.

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I feel like if I was ever in an emotional crisis and I wasn’t sure of which direction to take, I would hope that one of Normand Corbeil’s tracks would be playing in my background. It intensifies the scene in everything!

Do yourself a favor and purchase Heavy Rain. Be creative and ridiculous with your character’s actions during the in-the-moment gameplay. Listen to “Painful Memories” whenever your emotional bubble is soon to explode, preferably, during the precipice of a long-going rainstorm – you’ll thank me later.

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Sean Berry is a literary romantic with a B.A. in Creative Writing from Columbia College Chicago. In Brooklyn, New York, when he’s not chasing after subway trains, he could be found at the local coffeehouse with a laptop and large latte.

His most memorable video game moments are traversing the plains of Hyrule alongside an annoying fairy (Hey!) and spending countless of mouse-smashing hours commanding the armies of the ProtossTerran, and Zerg.

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