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This week, I’m supposed to come up with a (mostly) self-imposed task of choosing the five best video game soundtracks of 2014.

My current count is nine, and I’ve already narrowed it down.

To clarify, this is not 2013. There was no BioShock: Infinite in 2014. Not even Garry Schyman could top himself with his own Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor soundtrack, as fabulous as that music is.

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If I’m brutally honest with myself, there are four that will stay on the list, and only one slot is up for grabs. I’m going to get a load of grief for quite possibly leaving one of the most popular soundtracks of the year off the list.

One of the soundtracks that already made that list has received very little recognition. I hope to change that a bit, because it’s mildly disheartening to me that no one seems to remember it (it came out earlier this year).

Critics and bloggers seem to be glossing over another fine soundtrack from 2014: Jesper Kyd’s Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel.

Borderlands Pre-Sequel Cover

Purchase Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel Soundtrack

If you read my words on occasion, you’re aware of my admiration of Jesper and his music. I feel like Jesper is a true magician with sound and melody. He creates the most incredible musical experiences while gaming. Here are some examples:

This track is called “Persistent Impulse”. Jesper is so good at “the groove”, amirite?? There’s a spot where it sounds like voices come in, although knowing Jesper’s music, that sound could be anything. And I love how the 8-bit, Mario-esque noise drops in as the track winds down. It’s perfect.

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The track right after “Persistent Impulse” demonstrates what I consider to be a trademark of Jesper’s (I hope calling it that doesn’t discourage him from using the technique). The track is called “Beyond the Biodome”. It starts with a winding, 16th-note motive that echoes and twists around until he flips where it starts and ends. Jesper does it so subtly that, unless you’re really paying attention, you could miss it. I love that trickery.

System Interference” is another great song to get your blood pumping. Or, if you need to chill out and take a trip, listen to “Outlands”.

Gearbox, the developer of the Borderlands series, tends to have difficulty creating games independent of lengthy swaths of repetition. Thankfully, these moments go by quickly thanks to a couple of the things they do well: great one-liners and Jesper Kyd.

Take a listen today, and let me know what you think. I think this deserves a spot on the list for sure.

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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.

Sumthing Else Music Works, through its licensing relationship with CAPCOM, is proud to announce the digital release of Devil May Cry® Sound Box, the original soundtracks collection for one of CAPCOM’s most successful and critically acclaimed video game franchises. Featuring the original soundtracks from Devil May Cry®, Devil May Cry® 2, Devil May Cry® 3 and Devil May Cry® 4, Devil May Cry® Sound Box is now available digitally from Sumthing.com, iTunes, Amazon.com and other digital music sites.

Devil My Cry Sound Box

Debuting in 2001, Devil May Cry immediately redefined the action genre. The title captured gamers’ hearts through its stylish, over-the-top action and bad boy anti-hero Dante. Son to a human mother and a devil father named Sparda, the half-demon Dante uses his innate abilities and the powers of ancient demons to fight a one-man war against the forces of darkness and save humanity from damnation.

For more information on Devil May Cry visit www.capcom-unity.com.

I watched a show tonight called Doomsday Preppers. It’s a NatGeo show, I have no idea how many seasons there are, and I don’t care. In this program, the producers profile Americans who spend an above-average amount of time preparing for the end of the world.

In the episode I watched, one couple feared the North/South pole shift, another man hiked around Los Angeles foraging food from plants in preparation for a devastating earthquake, and a woman who readied herself for an impending oil crisis (she lives in Houston).

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Additionally, I’m an avid fan of The Walking Dead series of games and TV. I’ve played Fallout, State of Decay, The Last of Us, and plenty of Earth-has-been-invaded-and-life-as-we-know-it-is-over games like Resistance or Mass Effect.

Here is my conclusion: I’m not built for the apocalypse, no matter how it comes. Exception: if aliens come and have special interest in classical music or video game music or radio hosts, I’ll be A-OK.

When I watch or play The Walking Dead, I have *no* desire to live like that. None.

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There are survival skills I’d be willing to learn that could come in handy now, pre-apocalypse. Things like how to purify water, or how to start a fire. I was a Brownie for a while but I don’t recall being taught how to start a fire at age 8. It could come in handy in real life, if I ever get stranded somewhere.

I don’t want to learn how to stitch a wound, or barter for supplies. I can’t barter now. The other day, I got incorrect change back from a cashier (to the store’s favor) and I didn’t say a word. Imagine me in the apocalypse.

I don’t want to shoot anything but spiders. In fact, I would love to shoot spiders. But I don’t want to shoot an animal to eat it. If I shot spiders, it’d be for fun. My uncle shoots deer with crossbows and uses every last scrap of that animal for various foods and such. It’s impressive. Maybe I’d go crash at his place?

But that’s far away from where I live, and I already know I’d never make it. It’s a solid three tanks, maybe two, in a fuel-efficient vehicle. And that’s the other thing; I’d potentially be escaping life in a two-door Honda Civic. It’s probably not the best choice.

No music. There wouldn’t be music anywhere. I wouldn’t be able to hear Bach or Beethoven, or Jesper Kyd or Nobuo Uematsu or Respighi or Brahms or Rameau or Björk. I’ve dedicated my life to music. What would I do without it? There are no mp3 players, Discmans or Walkmans in the apocalypse once the batteries run out.

I don’t have any interest in learning any elaborate evacuation plan to get out of Minneapolis. Such a plan seems as though it might require some sort of physical strength or endurance. I can’t do a single push-up; I haven’t done a pull-up since middle school. I can walk fast because I’m six feet tall. But, the last time I ran a mile was 2005. I do not own a bike (someone stole it off my porch a few years ago).

When I watch shows like Doomsday Preppers, or The Walking Dead, or I play a game like State of Decay (or any sort of game in the survival genre), I can’t stop thinking: I don’t want to live this way. I don’t want to plan for a life in which I’m eating food out of jars and cans until it runs out. I don’t want to excessively ration supplies. Life isn’t nearly that hard now, but it’s weird enough, and I don’t want to fight to live.

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As I talk with friends about this, some wholeheartedly agree. My friends who disagree, however, really disagree. I wonder if they don’t think I value my life? I totally value my life as it is now. My actions, my career, all of these things demonstrate how I value my life. In the apocalypse, I would not feel the same way.

For the “Preppers”, maybe preparing for the end helps them feel in control of an uncontrollable event. It gives them purpose and focus. Well, music and games are my focus, neither of which seems that likely when the power grid shuts off.

In the coming weeks, I’ll highlight some of my favorite video game music from 2014. Thanks for listening to me rant about the end of the world.

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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.

A little over a month ago I began counting down my favorite games across the last generation of consoles. If you missed the last couple entries please: click here

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Watch: Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots E3 2007 trailer

# 1 Kojima Productions/Platinum Games/Konami – Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns Of The Patriots and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

 

On the surface, Metal Gear Solid as a series looks the part of any other videogame. There are trophies awarded for beating bosses, well-defined stages of progression, and there is always an option to save your progress. One thing, however, stands out rather strikingly and that is, Metal Gear lives in total fear of the gun it carries. It is one of the most important genes found within its DNA, one that separates it from all of its video game counterparts. In far too many games made today, your main objective is to shoot, and to shoot everything. So in effect, all you’re tasked with doing is to fire a gun. You’re made to carry this wide assortment of firearms and proceed to make rubble of everything and everyone around you, no questions asked. This lowly cap-in-hand exercise of wielding pistols to fire indiscriminately into a crowd, exacting both carnage and retribution over and over again, lacks all focus, foundation and any sense of humanity.

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Listen: Metal Gear Solid 4 Soundtrack – Mobs Alive

Inside the world of Metal Gear, however, guns are as dangerous and permanent in their destruction as they are in the reality of the world around you. Metal Gear realizes that violence has repercussions; people will be affected, and the choice to stare down the muzzle of a barrel of a gun is the stuff of last resort. It should be treated as an extreme means to an end, and should be avoided at all cost. It defines a full metal jacket as the absolute worst course of action. In short, Metal Gear, over so many other video games, has a soul, and it has always been a troubled one.

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Listen: Metal Gear Solid 4 Soundtrack – Old Snake

Metal Gear stubbornly takes none of the blind firing squad orders of its video game brethren, choosing instead to focus on the magnification of its character’s very personal struggles: the condition of the psyche behind that trigger, the irreversible consequences of firing it, and most importantly, the unending cycle of melancholy applicable to the gruesome acts of war. Nothing illustrates this point more perfectly than Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns Of The Patriots, and while director Hideo Kojima may have done everything to protect his child from the evil, the broken, and the corrupt, sadness inevitably found him when he was young.

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Listen: Metal Gear Solid 4 Soundtrack – Cold Memories

Metal Gear Solid 4 plays without the protection of its surprisingly absent and expected callous: Solid Snake may be well into his advancing years, but you will be made to feel all of his pain. MGS4 follows a man who is functioning, but only with the help of multiple manufactured aids to supplement his many failing original organs. The real battle is now an internal one that silently negotiates for time over confrontation. He seeks out penance and forgiveness, and as his strength fails, it becomes more and more painful to watch. Metal Gear Solid 4 is one of the few games to embrace the physical and emotional descent of age, what an individual legacy is actually worth, and that no matter how tall the image of yourself stands in public, what it is like to reconcile the actuality of that stature when alone in the dark. The territory Kojima explores here is bold. While it may not be as all encompassing as he might have liked it to be, nothing in the last generation can challenge its weight, nor the morose scrutiny of its post-modern-when-it-rains Death Of A Salesman drama, nor its matter-of-fact approach to the absolute isolation of death. But wait, there’s more!

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Watch: Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance E3 2012 trailer

Playing almost full and perfect counter to Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns Of The Patriots is Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. While not totally barren of the ponderous tomes of its aforementioned forbearer, Rising forgoes all subtlety striking in response to even the slightest of cause. There is reason for it though, and primary to that is the youth in its protagonist Raiden. He’s flippant and powerful, but not so naïve that he doesn’t already have some rather substantial regrets. Rising, however, parries the insurmountable numbness, that terminal acceptance of punishment found in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns Of The Patriots and argues the evidence in support of its incarceration. It pleads to find redemption through works and effectively skews and alters the perception of its jury. Everyone can change.

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Listen: Metal Gear Rising Soundtrack – Rules of Nature

While I have crowned these two titles for their use of twilight of the tears, black-box theater, I have left all synopsis of the actual playtime (controlling these characters) absent, because as it stands, there is no real separation between the two. Both Rising and Metal Gear Solid 4 stand among a few, very select games able to blend their narrative and action together seamlessly. Playing them is something without equal, even now. The presence of Metal Gear Solid 4’s widely criticized longer cut scenes never felt to me like control had been somehow wrested away. I owned each part as a whole and stood inside the limping Solid Snake and the more athletically inclined Raiden without interruption at all times. There will be those who vigorously disagree, but what can I tell you? This is still the best experience I have had with regards to games across the entire 7th generation, for that matter, period.

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Listen: Metal Gear Solid 4 Soundtrack – Love Theme

While it may be desperately light on the Hee-Haw, and insurmountably heavy on any number of philosophical doctrines, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns Of The Patriots and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance did not disappoint. Regardless of what Metal Gear’s long-time cagey resident Colonel Campbell once said about it all just being a game as usual, Metal Gear Solid 4 and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance prove it’s anything but.

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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.

The following is my wish list for this holiday season:

  1. Stop playing Destiny.
  2. Get the raid gear for my Warlock and/or Titan in Destiny.
  3. A Vex Mythoclast in Destiny.
  4. Or a Hawkmoon.
  5. Finish Dragon Age: Inquisition instead of Destiny.
  6. Finish Far Cry 4 instead of Destiny.
  7. Play Assassin’s Creed: Unity instead of Destiny.
  8. Finish Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor instead of Destiny.
  9. I also want Pocket Infinity.
  10. Get me to level 30, or even 32, in Destiny.
  11. I’d like to take a vacation to Puerto Rico, where I could play Destiny in a LAN party with my PSN friends only IRL.
  12. I’d like new planets in Destiny. I understand we can’t walk around on Jupiter or Saturn, but let’s continue to suspend our disbelief and go to Mercury.
  13. Is Destiny, like, anti-dwarf planet? How about Pluto?
  14. I never finished Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments either. Thanks, Destiny.
  15. I’d like to get LittleBigPlanet 3. It would sit in a stack with all aforementioned games, watching me play Destiny.

Destiny is my new Diablo. Remember when I couldn’t stop playing that game? The platinum trophy for Reaper of Souls is within my reach, yet might take the rest of my life because I can’t do anything except play Destiny all the time – thanks, in large part, to the social aspect of the game.

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My warlock

I do love Dragon Age: Inquisition. It’s a beautiful game, the fighting is a blast, the followers are fun, the story is engaging (in my opinion) and the tasks and missions aren’t any more tedious than what I endure in Destiny.

I get to play with friends in Destiny. All of those games I listed above also have multiplayer. I’m generally a PvE person, but sheesh, there’s PvE in most of those I listed up there anyway. But my friends aren’t playing those games either; they’re playing Destiny.

Above all, I wish I could get PS4s for all of my local gaming friends this season. Then we could all play Destiny together.

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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.

 

The problem with Dragon Age: Inquisition has nothing to do with Trevor Morris’s music. It’s gorgeous, and fits in beautifully with the continent of Thedas. You can hear an excellent roundup of the score in The Well of Sorrows.

DA COVER

Morris’s themes are magnificent – a large orchestra, full choir, vocal soloists, loads of brass and percussion, and more. I love the music he wrote.

I don’t love how the music works in the game. If I want to hear all the great music Trevor wrote, I have to literally listen to the soundtrack, because I rarely hear it in the game.

DA SCENERY

I’ve put about 27 hours into the game, and I’m slowwwwwwww at moving through games like this. I love to poke around in the forest, search corners of caves, walk along the rivers and lakes, see if I can climb that mountain with my horse, give up on the horse and try climbing it by jumping, give up on jumping and go all the way around, stop for every herb along the way, mine iron and summer stone and blue vitriol from every boulder, kill every bear, loot every cabin, root out all the bandits, mercenaries and apostates, and so on.

While I’m doing all of those things, things that I truly enjoy and adore about gaming, I rarely hear music with any melody.

Here’s why this matters. When I’m away from the game, I never find myself singing any themes from the experience. I don’t walk away humming tunes, wishing I could still be playing.

The Bethesda games, like Fallout and The Elder Scrolls, are great. I can hear those melodies and instantly want to be in the game world playing. Same with the Jesper Kyd years of Assassin’s Creed, or Red Dead Redemption. Even Destiny uses melodic content during exploration, and I find myself singing those tunes many hours after turning off the game.

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My only complaint to Trevor is that his ambient music is too ambient. I can’t blame him for this, because I don’t know what the audio directors asked him to do. It’s possible they didn’t want melodic music, thinking it might be too intrusive to the experience.

If that was the case – if the audio directors wanted the music as background only, they succeeded. If I want to hear the best stuff, I have to wait for cinematics, which make up only a fraction of the amount of time I’m playing the game.

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My biggest takeaway from the music to Dragon Age: Inquisition is that I have no takeaway. The only way for me to truly enjoy the great music Trevor wrote is to stop playing the game and listen to the soundtrack with speakers or headphones. To me, as a gamer and a musician, this is a tragedy, and comes awfully close to negating the beauty of Trevor’s hard work.

Think of your favorite open world games that have an exploration/grinding/farming component. What are your feelings about the music in those games? Do you enjoy carrying a tune along with you when you’re not playing, or do you prefer the music to be more subtle?

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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. – See more at: http://www.sumthing.com/blog/#sthash.05TVzAhw.dpuf

A little over a month ago I began counting down my favorite games across the last generation of consoles. If you missed the last couple entries please: click here:

#8 Bioware and the Mass Effect Series

Mass Effect at number 8, you say? Okay, let’s make something very clear about my “Best of Last Console Generation” list. In my mind the winner of the number 10 spot celebrates all the victories of the number 1 spot. No one is truly superior because by nature ALL of them rest at equilibrium. To me it’s fine that Mass Effect is at number 8 because it is like saying it is also at number 1. With that being said, at this late stage in the press coverage for Mass Effect as a whole, you’ve probably reached a rather heightened state of saturation. There’s nothing that I could add to that heaping parfait of praise or criticism.  So when I talk about Mass Effect here, I promise to make it brief. If you haven’t played the games, don’t worry. You’ll learn nothing about the contents of these titles, and that’s the point: I don’t want to spoil it for you. 

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Listen: Mass Effect Soundtrack: The Wards

The proof of a truly incredible game is not about what it does right, not at all. That honor is bestowed on a game once you start making sacrifices for it. It’s once you’re willing to lie, plan your schedule around it, and maneuver out of every conceivable social contract expected of you in the hopes of prolonging the hours spent tilling and terraforming its virtual space. A word to those who have yet to undertake Commander Shepard’s endeavors: you’re going to make a whole lot of people angry. I also recommend that you carry with you a small note pad, because you’re going to have to  keep all of your fabrications in line and consistent. Just a tip.

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Listen: Mass Effect Soundtrack – Illos Ride

My story with Mass Effect is one of sheer abandonment, tossing everyone aside no matter the ties we had. Rather than engage in any of the yearly post-Christmas holiday traditions with family and friends in 2007, I instead chose the N7. I went so far as to cancel my long-running annual Christmas party, seized the cache of funds set aside for itd production and funneled it into a Mass Effect lazy day bank account, so if I missed work, it would be fine: I paid myself to play Mass Effect.

If my alliances with my employer were tenuous, then imagine my siblings and parents – hanging out with them didn’t happen AT ALL. My sisters would beg and plead with me to go to a movie or to dinner, or anything: Nope. My friends, well let’s just say I let the phone ring, then played dumb more times than there were believable scenarios to create. Somebody had to have known.

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Listen: Mass Effect Soundtrack – Afterlife

What’s more, a few years later, as I was about to begin Mass Effect 3, my friend Frank was over to specifically diagnose the many problems I was having completing a perfect play through of Mass Effect 2. His findings were troubling. I would have to start over from scratch if I wanted to do it right. While playing through Mass Effect 2 again would have likely addressed and sufficed Frank’s concerns, it didn’t sit well with me, leaving something, anything undone. Plus you know, I may have left out that a good portion of my crew were also dead. So without even blinking, I erased my hard-won saves from Mass Effect 1 and 2 (those same saves built upon the shunning and repelling of blood relatives and long-time companions) and started over from the ground up. The cycle had begun anew. All this before I had even seen the title screen for Mass Effect 3.

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Listen: Mass Effect Soundtrack: Noveria

If this list were based solely on the most cavalier and unending expulsion of man hours, Mass Effect would stand alone; it would be no contest. If it was based on a single criterion, like say the number of those spurned in my attempts to complete it, Mass Effect’s catapulting friend catcher would have no equal. I have no regrets, and when you sign on to Commander Shepard’s Normandy and Mass Effect’s colossal galaxy of play pretend, it may very well be the most illuminating experience you’ve ever had while playing with toys. It is also likely that this is the first time your G.I. Joe and He-Man figurines have ever undergone indoctrination.

This is serious business you know.

Don’t forget to pick up the spectacular Mass Effect Score right here.

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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.

Firstly, Happy Dragon Age: Inquisition Day (aka The End of My Social Life Forever).

Secondly, I attended Gamer’s Rhapsody over the weekend; the first of what we hope will be many conventions in the future celebrating video game music and media. Special guests included Dale North (Dragon Fantasy Book II), Jake Kaufman (Shovel Knight) and Rich “Disasterpeace” Vreeland (Fez).

Thomas Spargo organized the event. He’s a student at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, and made his Gamer’s Rhapsody dream a reality.

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I participated in one panel and hosted another, but the festivities Saturday night were my favorite part. The night was full of music, performed by the aforementioned guests, along with the trio Nerd Enhanced Sound and the eight-piece band, Do a Barrel Roll.

I’ve spoken about Nerd Enhanced Sound in the past – they’re fabulous and their set was fantastic. NES is a trio of piano (Mike Vasich), bass (Nick Gaudette) and violin (Zack Kline). The three met in music school and formed a different trio called Orange Mighty Trio. After OMT played together for a couple years, Mike and Nick discovered they both adore video game music, so OMT created their alter ego – Nerd Enhanced Sound. Saturday night, they played Metroid, Marble Madness, Dr. Mario and more. Two gamers battled it out on the big screen during Dr. Mario. It was pretty great.

Do A Barrel Roll… I mean… seriously. Do yourself a giant favor and listen to them IMMEDIATELY. The eight of them met and started playing covers together when they were students at McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul. They’re incredible musicians… like sickly incredible. The lead guitarist, Austin, arranges all the music. Believe me when I tell you that what you hear in the recordings on Bandcamp is exactly what you hear when they play live. It’s incredible.

Dale North has a gorgeous voice, and although he didn’t want to perform original music, he did a great set of covers of JRPG ballads and such. Rich Vreeland also has a beautiful voice, and played an unplugged set at the piano singing original songs. Rich has a unique sense of melody and phrasing, bringing a wealth of variety to what might otherwise be a dude singing songs at a piano. I am a horrible person and went home to pass out before I could hear Jake Kaufman’s set.

Jake was a part of the panel I hosted, along with Rich. Jake and Rich are both beloved in the game music community for their chiptune music. However, they wrote such vastly different scores, it was delightful to hear them talk about their approaches and philosophies about their compositions.

My hope is that you will come next year. It’s cold and snowy here right now, yes, but it’s good for you. Plus, just like Minneapolis right across the river, St. Paul has a skyway system ensuring you never even need to leave the comfort of the indoors. All the more reason to spend a weekend jamming and hanging out with your fellow video game music lovers!

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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.

A little over a month ago, I began counting down my favorite games across the last generation of consoles. If you missed the last couple entries please: click here:

#2. Square-Enix, Eidos Montreal and Deus Ex: Human Revolution:

Have you ever been inside a bookstore and casually wondered WHAT exactly all the people around you might be reading? Kind of interesting, right? But it would be a fairly tedious and dangerous exercise to nudge each and every one on the shoulder to ask them about their favorite authors. Reading is a private exercise, not really meant to be done in public (but it is). Don’t worry, you’re in luck, because I know exactly what a significant portion of the mass literary audience prefers. Though my ad-libbed study is FAR from scientific, it’s part of what I do, and I see it everyday. I see it in the numbers. It has very little to do with the Fiction genre, History, Biographies, Nature, or Travel. It has everything to do with slogans and mantras.

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Listen: Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Pangu, City Above The City

Have you heard of Joel Osteen? I wish I were Joel Osteen. Every time I see another one of his books in hardcover, I want to kick myself, then have somebody, anybody in close proximity, kick me again! Why couldn’t I have come up with that? I mean… I have good ideas. Osteen, however, beat everyone to all of them, and has continuously, effortlessly slapped the hardcover straight into paperback with easily dialed clichés like“ You Can, You Will”, “I Declare”, “Break Out” and “It’s Your Time” into print – LOTS and lots of print. I have to give him credit though, because at least his books are complete, which is more than I can say for the author Don Miguel Ruiz, who published “The Four Agreements”, then had a suspect hand in letting loose the “The Fifth Agreement” as if to say, “Oh wait, I forgot one!” You would be wary of any scraggly man on the street yelling at you some ridiculous notion like “Ask and it is given” …wouldn’t you? I don’t see the difference here.

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Listen: Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Megan Intro

Actually, I have absolutely nothing against any of these authors at all. They provide a service for millions of people in that they illustrate ways to improve the self, barge past hurdles, renew hope etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. So what are people reading? Self-help, self-medication, self-renewal, and I don’t blame them. It’s getting BAD out there.

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Listen: Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Penthouse

All this to get to my initial point: put those books down. Remember, I say this because I am concerned for you all. I LOVE my literature, but this sizable demographic, those afflicted with some form of depression, self-doubt, or a litany of disturbances… may I make a suggestion? Want something for the pain right now? Something immediate?  Play video games. More specifically, play Square Enix’s 2011 masterpiece Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Now, I will take that a step further and say, if you haven’t played Deus Ex: Human Revolution, then you can’t possibly be serious about getting help, and all these books you’ve purchased in the hopes of overcoming cycles of intermittent despair are actually serving as weights to hold you back. You’ve actually just created another rather large blockade on your path to sound and true wellness. So in this instance, I am advocating against the slower, more methodical burn of chapter upon chapter and workbook page upon role-playing activity, all of which were designed to take you out, layer by layer and bit by bit from your self-spun, self-initiated cocoon. This is not a time to mince words, nor a time to enable the behavior in question to continue. Deus Ex: HR will hold your hand in some manner, but realizes that things need to happen quickly, and that time is running out.

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Listen: Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Wayne Hass

Deus Ex; HR brings with it a precise economy and wisdom to its sessions with you, as it cuts all costs through no applicable medications. It’s seen through all of the unscrupulous do-make-say-think greed, through every fatted panel of charlatan and witch doctor, and through all of whom are eager to pounce voraciously on your clouded, unstable vulnerability with hollow two-word creeds. While they might briefly address your problem, more than likely, theirs is a Band-Aid with an already weakened adhesive. These results need to be lasting. Are you familiar with Adam Jensen‘s dedicated 24-hour crisis hotline? Let me connect you.

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Listen: Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Picus Funicular Combat

I will not rehash again what I’ve already told you about Deus Ex: Human Revolution. I’ve written tirelessly in this very space about and around the circumstances that encompassed some of my ongoing experiences with it, but if you want the short version, I will give it to you: It saved my life. While I can’t quite laugh about it now, I can speak genuinely to the merits of its attack/therapy/counseling mixture. A fragment of who I am today was shaped by this very title.

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Listen: Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Exploration (Hard Fight)

Deus Ex: Human Revolution is one of the greatest landmarks in the seventh generation of video games, but it should be looked upon as more than just a piece of software; it should be viewed as something much more precious, something spiritual. It becomes part of you. With Deus Ex: Human Revolution, there is no before, after, or during, and you will never speak of it in the past tense. In this sense it is the truest form of therapy: one in which the dialogue is constantly changing and evolving years after the initial ordeal has taken place. Deus Ex: Human Revolution is completely self-aware. It is keen to your person, your weaknesses, and your triggers. It is here to help. Once you’ve spent a few weeks with it, gone back and forth and hashed out all the ugly because that‘s what you need, you will be transformed. I declare.

A very personal and heartfelt thanks and congratulations goes out to Square Enix, Eidos Montreal, and composer Michael McCann .

Don’t forget to pick up the official Deus Ex: Human Revolution soundtrack here.

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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.

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Rising star composer Sarah Schachner (Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag, Far Cry 3, Lazarus) returns to Ubisoft’s flagship series Assassin’s Creed to score the combat, co-op and multiplayer music for this year’s most anticipated next-gen blockbuster title, Assassin’s Creed® Unity, a new epic adventure set within Paris during the French Revolution. The soundtrack is now available digitally through Ubisoft Music and will also be released on limited edition vinyl. 4 full-length tracks are available to preview on Soundcloud.

Schachner combines her dynamic talents as an accomplished multi-instrumentalist (violin, cello, guitar, mandolin, voice) and modular synth artist/programmer to create a unique classical soundscape infused with analog pulses. “The French revolution was an interesting time musically because it was at the beginning of the classical period but there was still some crossover from the baroque era,” explains Schachner. “The missions at Versailles, for instance, reflect more of the overly flourished baroque sound that the aristocracy was reluctant to let go of.”

Sarah Schachner’s action-driven score for Assassin’s Creed® Unity immerses players in the time period during which the action takes place but also reflects the game’s overarching modern sci-fi element. “The combat music in Unity needed to strike a balance between the methodical and calculated chamber sound of the era while also encompassing the passion and struggle that was at the center of the revolution,” continues Schachner. “As always with the franchise, the player is periodically reminded of the sci-fi modern Abstergo element with low gritty analog synth pulses weaving in and out of the classical soundscape.”

Sarah’s previous scoring credits include arranging and composing additional music for Brian Tyler on various cinematic projects such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Far Cry 3, Now You See Me, Iron Man 3 and Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag, which was nominated for a 2014 BAFTA Award for Best Original Music. Her upcoming projects include the Lionsgate horror thriller Lazarus produced by Jason Blum (Paranormal Activity, Insidious, Purge) and starring Olivia Wilde, Mark Duplass, Donald Glover, Evan Peters and Sarah Bolger. Lazarus premieres in US theaters January 2015.

Set in a once-magnificent Paris, Assassin’s Creed Unity plunges into the terror of the 1789 French Revolution and features the most dense and immersive Assassin’s Creed city ever created. Through the streets of Paris, the starving inhabitants are set to take up arms for freedom and equality. In this time of chaos and brutality, a young man named Arno, wounded by the loss of those he loved, sets on a deadly path of redemption. Arno’s pursuit throws him into the middle of a ruthless struggle for the fate of a nation, and transforms him into a true Master Assassin.

Assassin’s Creed® Unity is on November 11 in the US and on November 13 in Europe. For more information visit www.assassinscreed.com.

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