Category:  Liner Notes

By Patrick Kulikowski, May 14, 2013 0 Features, Liner Notes

(Editor’s note: From Metal Gear Solid to Tenchu, everyone’s got at least one videogame tune stuck in their heads. Enter Liner Notes: a Pixelitis feature in which our writers discuss their favorite videogame soundtracks.)

Forget that Sam Fisher had ever turned into a disgruntled ex-agent with nothing to lose. Before all that, the wise-cracking stealth operative snuck his way into one of 2005′s greatest games, Splinter Cell Chaos Theory.

Ubisoft Montreal tapped Brazilian electronica maestro Amon Tobin to craft the music for the third entry in the stealth action series. You could tell that the company was proud of the soundtrack, given that the album was released two months before the game was even out.

While Jesper Kyd of Hitman and Assassin’s Creed fame handled the orchestral tracks played during the game’s cutscenes, Tobin focused primarily on the tracks played during gameplay. What resulted was something fascinatingly unique: an eclectic mix of jazz, breakbeat, trip-hop, drum ‘n bass and the native sounds from his Brazilian origins.

What made his work on the game so unique was the method in which it was employed within the game: each track utilized different parts that varied in intensity. These parts were weaved in by the developers to dynamically change depending on what occurred onscreen.

Demonstrating this wouldn’t be any fun without subjecting your ears to this masterpiece though, so join me as we affix our nightvision goggles and do some split jumps to the tunes of Chaos Theory.

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By Karen Rivera, April 30, 2013 0 Features, Liner Notes

(Editor’s note: From Ace Combat to Tekken, everyone’s got at least one videogame tune stuck in their heads. Enter Liner Notes: a Pixelitis feature in which our writers discuss their favorite videogame music.)

For as much as we all make fun of Patrick Kulikowski for his eternal flame of love for all things Breath of Fire, I suppose I have to come clean myself.

I have a ridiculous borderline obsession with Katamari Damacy. I mention it at least once a day, probably at least once every other podcast and I rarely go a day without listening to the music. While the first game’s music holds a soft spot in my heart, We Love Katamari or in Japanese, Minna Daisuki Katamari, is unparalleled musical genius.

If you don’t agree, you can stop right here.

If you don’t feel the sheer joy and excitement that this music brings, you’re already dead on the inside. From the opening swing dance swoops of “Katamari on the Swing” by Shigeru Matsuzaki to the laidback bossa nova beats of “Houston” by Katamari Robo (a Namco composition), there’s always a song to put you in the right mood to roll up unsuspecting animals, people and huge buildings. It’s an auditory indulgence that soothes any fears you have about bringing unprecedented destruction to the people in the galaxy.

And you know what? The people in this sequel want you to roll them up, therefore the royal “we” are absolved from any guilt tied to this mass of humanity that is a Katamari.

So get comfy, grab a drink and dive into the feel good vibes in my list of favorite jams from We Love Katamari.

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By Patrick Kulikowski, April 16, 2013 0 Features, Liner Notes

(Editor’s note: From Ace Attorney to Xenogears, everyone’s got at least one videogame tune stuck in their heads. Enter Liner Notes: a Pixelitis feature in which our writers discuss their favorite videogame music.)

Let’s talk about the awesome combination of game music cover bands and heavy metal.

One of the fantastic things about videogame music is that the styles and possibilities within the genre are endless. Us VGM audiophiles bathe in a co-culture in which a classical, choir-oriented tune like this can still be lumped in the same category as its Mega Ran-covered, hip-hop conversion.

Next to assembling expansive orchestras to perform renditions of our favorite videogame music in classical arrangements, forming a heavy metal cover band is also one of the most beloved ways of interpreting everything from Actraiser to Zelda II.

Metal fans – and even game music fans – who claim to be “tired” of the abundance of VGM metal covers out there: get pumped, turn up your speakers and prepare to GET YOUR FACE ROCKED. \m/

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By Patrick Kulikowski, April 2, 2013 0 Features, Liner Notes

(Editor’s note: From Alundra to Wild Arms, everyone’s got at least one videogame tune stuck in their heads. Enter Liner Notes: a Pixelitis feature in which our writers discuss their favorite videogame music.)

Given how Capcom’s first Breath of Fire on SNES served as the catalyst for my enjoyment of JRPGs and their music, its sequel could only make that flame grow all-the-more furiously.

And that it did. I flipped a lid when I discovered the existence of Breath of Fire II in an early ’96 issue of GamePro. I finally got it for my seventh birthday in March of that year and I was treated to a surprisingly dark story and a musical experience that still resonates with me to this day.

While Capcom’s first massive RPG outing featured several composers from in-house band Alph Lyla, Breath of Fire II’s soundtrack was left to a lone composer: Yuko Takehara, who had previously worked on Mega Man 6 and X and would later handle Street Fighter Alpha, Marvel vs. Capcom, and Mega Man and 10. Takehara continued with the classical and orchestral flair of the first game, while also breathing in her own style in the form of rock-hard battle themes that call to mind her work on Mega Man.

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By Patrick Kulikowski, March 12, 2013 0 Features, Liner Notes

We all love videogame music for a lot of different reasons. Nostalgia plays a big part obviously, but the infectious melodies often reign supreme.

The Mystical Ninja series is no exception. In fact, its melodies are so damn memorable that the moment I decided I would write about its first Nintendo 64 outing, I couldn’t get the music out of my head for at least 24 hours. I haven’t been a stranger to writing about my fondness for Mystical Ninja in the past.

One of the brilliant things about 1998′s Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon’s soundtrack is just how much of it there really is. The game easily spans more than eighty tracks, and that’s not even including all of the voice samples. This was made possible thanks to the game’s 128-megabit cartridge, which was a hefty size for N64 games back in the day.

The Konami stamp of authenticity lay in the composition of the music, which was handled by an enormous group of people. Composers like Shigeru Araki, Yusuke Kato, Saiko Miki, Yasumasa Kitagawa, and the “Goemon Production Committee” were on hand to create some of the game’s delightfully humorous anime-inspired vocal tracks.

So what are we waiting for? Let’s “BREAKDOWN!” some of the more standout tracks in this 3D platforming bundle of cooky Japanese joy. (more…)

By Patrick Kulikowski, February 26, 2013 2 Features, Liner Notes

The best part of waking up… should be your alarm clock.

For some of us, waking up is like digging a corpse out of a grave. For others, it’s like birds chirp and the sun shines and they just wake up like Susie Sunshine.

But waking up is a part of daily life, and there are ways in which we can spice up the that routine.

After toiling with generic alarm clock noises for several years, my bedtime wakey-wakey (with eggs and bakey) was graciously changed for the better with the purchase of my first smartphone. With our bundles of touchscreen joy, alarm ringtones can be anything you so desire: a favorite song, loud obnoxious noises not related to ringing bells, or if you’re like me — videogame music.

So if you’re looking to enliven your daily routine of waking up with some good old VGMs, you’ve come to the right place. I may or may not have used some of these as my ringtones over the years. (more…)

By Patrick Kulikowski, February 12, 2013 0 Features, Liner Notes

(Editor’s note: From Drakkhen to Paperboy, everyone’s got at least one videogame tune stuck in their heads. Enter Liner Notes: a Pixelitis feature in which our writers discuss their favorite videogame music.)

Don’t worry. I haven’t gone off my rocker and decided to dedicate a feature to fishing game soundtracks. Rather, I’d like to delve into a phenomenon known as the SNES bass.

Much like how Konami’s sound team had its own signature “orchestral hit” in its early 90s videogame music, several composers utilized a slap bass sound that’s become synonymous with the sounds of early 90s SNES titles.

The slap bass sample in question is taken from a Korg M1, the same keyboard used for the theme to Seinfeld composed by Jonathan Wolff. Oftentimes, detractors (read: 90s Sega kids) will use these instances of bass guitar as a source of derision for the SNES’ sound chip. Indeed, the bass sample is an acquired taste. Some may dismiss it as laughably cheesy, and it very well may be in some cases, but that’s not to say that the sample can’t be found in some fantastic videogame tunes.

So bear with me. I’m going to make a case for the SNES bass.

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By Patrick Kulikowski, January 29, 2013 0 Features, Liner Notes

(Editor’s note: From Fire Emblem to Persona, everyone’s got at least one videogame tune stuck in their heads. Enter Liner Notes: a Pixelitis feature in which our writers discuss their favorite videogame music.)

Have you ever heard the saying: “No Stairway” before? Yes, it’s a Wayne’s World reference and jokes about amateur guitarists butchering a Led Zeppelin classic. It can be seen as a snobby way of saying that the song is overplayed. But, that’s how I feel about one of the most popular Final Fantasy tracks ever, “One-Winged Angel.”

Now, I’m not going to flat-out proclaim that the final boss theme from Final Fantasy VII is overrated. It’s a phenomenal and haunting track, especially when Uematsu’s former progressive metal band The Black Mages covered it. I simply feel that there’s been enough obsessive adoration and praise thrown at it, so how about all of those other fantastic final boss themes that Uematsu and his fellow Final Fantasy composers have under their belts?

Final boss themes are the crème de la crème of battle themes in an RPG. The fate of the entire (in-game) world rests on the player and his or her party, so the game better have fitting music to go with it. So join me in my third and final examination of Final Fantasy’s battle themes and let’s talk final battle music. Bring plenty of Megalixirs (and be sure to actually use them, dammit!).

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By Patrick Kulikowski, December 18, 2012 0 Features, Liner Notes

(Editor’s note: From Breath of Fire to Ys, everyone’s got at least one videogame tune stuck in their heads. Enter Liner Notes: a Pixelitis feature in which our writers discuss their favorite videogame music.)

In a Japanese role-playing game, boss battles tend to be some of the most pivotal moments in the story. The boss is the encounter that players need to take a little more seriously than one of its minions. In the words of Emeril, the intensity gets “kicked up a notch.”

In this week’s continuation of my three-part series on Final Fantasy’s battle music, we’re going to focus on those catchy rock-oriented boss themes that moved us to take on the insurmountable odds. To save the world.

And rest assured, when the stakes are high and the chips are down, composers Nobuo Uematsu, Masashi Hamauzu, and Hitoshi Sakimoto have got it covered.

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By Patrick Kulikowski, December 4, 2012 0 Features, Liner Notes

(Editor’s note: From Grandia to Lost Odyssey, everyone’s got at least one videogame tune stuck in their heads. Enter Liner Notes: a Pixelitis feature in which our writers discuss their favorite videogame music.)

Although the 3DS’ Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy has been out for a good five months in North America, I’ve only started playing it now. And boy is it a nostalgia trip.

As I blasted through the game’s timeline of thirteen Final Fantasy titles, memories of my wonderful times with the Final Fantasy series permeated my mind. Nobuo Uematsu’s (and many other’s) work on the series is such an integral part to the Final Fantasy experience. Going along with that is its penchant for amazing battle music.

Great-sounding battle music is integral to any JRPG. You’re going to be engaging in countless battles throughout the game, so the tune you’ll be forced to listen to better be enjoyable. Thankfully in Final Fantasy‘s case, the battle themes never disappoint.

Let’s face it, you can’t lump the entirety of the Final Fantasy series’ battle, boss and final boss themes into one article or list. Consider this to be part one of a three-piece feature dedicated to covering the series’ rich library of monster-fighting music.

So assign your best job classes, strap on that materia, junction those spells, and update your sphere grids: it’s battle theme time.

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