Category: Gaming culture
Entitled “Just Fun,” the album is headed up by none other than Deus Ex lead composer Alexander Brandon, and features original work by over a dozen collaborators, including Jake “Virt” Kaufman (Double Dragon Neon, Retro City Rampage), Danny Baranowsky (Super Meat Boy), Erik Peabody (Viking Guitar) and Grant “Stemage” Henry (Metroid Metal, LONELYROLLINGSTARS).
Brandon, who has also worked on the music for games like Unreal Tournament, Jazz Jackrabbit 2 and most recently Dust: An Elysian Tail, sees “Just Fun” as an opportunity to create a 45-minute album spanning several genres, including pop, rock, jazz and 8-bit chiptune.
The album has actually been finished for some time, but Brandon desired to amass funds in order to do a “proper” release of the album that can give it a more widespread reach across his fellow collaborators’ audience.
While the Kickstarter campaign only initially asked for $6,000, that number more than quadrupled by its end to $25,054. The campaign has achieved several stretch goals, including a bonus second album, a “Making Of” documentary and a professional remastering of the entire project.
I must say that this increase in collaborative albums by some of my favorite game composers (see: In Flux) is a joy to see. What other composers do you hope to see in future projects such as these? I’d personally like to see Yuko Takehara (Breath of Fire II, Mega Man VII) come out of the woodwork again to compose more videogame music.
What happens when the work of Western game composers gets meshed together with those from the East? In Flux happens.
Brave Wave Productions (formerly known as Koopa Soundworks), which previously brought game music fans two compilations of remix albums in the form of World 1-2 and World 1-2: Encore last year (my review here), have just released a new album entitled In Flux.
Described as “an East-meets-West music album that merges the two oceans together in an unprecedented way,” the album features returning Japanese composers like Manami Matsumae (Mega Man, Mighty No. 9), Akira Yamaoka (Silent Hill) and Keiji Yamagishi (Ninja Gaiden, Captain Tsubasa), who join forces with Western-based musicians such as Eirik Suhrke (Spelunky, Ridiculous Fishing) and Grant “Stemage” Henry (Metroid Metal) to provide several original tracks spanning various genres.
The digital album is on Brave Wave’s Bandcamp page for $10, while a physical CD release will run you $15 plus shipping.
Read on as I review the album track-by-track and get immersed in its diverse sound waves.
You’d be hardpressed not to find someone who has seen at least one Studio Ghibli movie, the Japanese studio behind many groundbreaking beautiful animated features including Princess Mononoke, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind and of course, Spirited Away.
Thanks to one special developer, we can take the next step and relive the Boiler Room scene from Spirited Away in virtual reality with the Oculus Rift.
Developer Nick Pittom has been hard at work recreating the heavy details the Boiler Room, from the skyhigh drawers of miscellaneous chemicals to the large machine feeding the fires in the boiler. Strap on your Oculus Rift and step into the shoes of Sen as you walk around and watch the soot sprites feed coal to the furnace while Kamaji keeps the bathhouse up and running.
Pittom, who has plenty of 3D modeling and animation experience, translated director Hayao Miyazaki’s 2D world into an amazing 3D experience. Everything you see is topped with a painted texture that keeps it as close as possible to its original rendition.
Released in 2001, Spirited Away became one of Japan’s top grossing films of all time. Studio Ghibli films continue to enjoy Disney level popularity in Japan and across the states thanks to the publishing power of Disney.
If you have an Oculus Rift, you can download the demo here to try it yourself. If you don’t, make the jump to see it in action.
Hiroki Kikuta’s Secret of Mana soundtrack remains one of the most lauded soundtracks on the Super Nintendo. To satiate fans’ burning questions about his work, the game composer took to Reddit to answer questions in an “Ask Me Anything” post.
One eye-catching revelation involved one fan’s inquiry about his work on a fan favorite, “Prophecy,” which he apparently wrote in 15 minutes.
The composer also gave a neat explanation for the game’s aggressive boss tune, “Danger,” saying that a key factor in crafting battle music lies in focusing on “the positive factors clashing with negative ones.”
“When making something like battle music, thinking about the clashing of these different forces is very important,” Kikuta explained. “Once these clashing factors come together, they become one and you end up with a perfect sound that symbolizes that harmony. Much like in American football when you have the chaotic lead up of plays and the celebration when a touchdown is scored, battle music is very similar in how the colliding forces come together to create something amazing.”
Another interesting tidbit in the AMA includes an explanation for the whale noise that plays when one starts the game, which represents “a crying voice for the undying mana tree.”
In addition to questions about his compositions in the Mana series, Kikuta also talked to fans about his work on PS1 RPG Soukaigi and Koudelka and his recently-released original album entitled “Pulse Pico Pulse.”
If you have any appreciation for SNES soundtracks, or you just simply think Secret of Mana is one of the best videogame soundtracks of all time, then I highly suggest you give the AMA a read.
Leading up to the release of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, CD Projekt RED has been making friends with other companies outside the realm of videogames.
As reported last month, Fantasy Flight Games will be publishing a massive boardgame based on the eponymous series of novels by Andrzej Sapkowski and it looks like the first official run of comic books by Dark Horse Comics will be hitting store shelves on March 19.
Written by Eisner Award winning author Paul Tobin and illustrated by Joe Querio, whose work B.R.P.D. fans will surely recognize, the series will bring Geralt of Rivia in contact with a widowed hunter and his not-quite-dead-yet wife in the House of Glass.
“We’re very excited to work with CD Projekt RED on The Witcher,” Dark Horse Comics’ Director of Custom Programs Nick McWhorter said in a recent press release. “With the rich world they have created, and an enthralling central character like Geralt, we feel The Witcher is ripe to tell a compelling story through comics.”
You can check out the first few pages of The Witcher #1 before it makes its way to comic shops after the break. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is expected to come to the PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One sometime later this year.
Fans of game music will be able to witness the fruits of another successful Kickstarter project next week, when game music luminary Tommy Tallarico releases Video Games Live Level 3 to the masses.
Funded back in September, the album will feature several arrangements from a bevy of game soundtracks, including “Liberi Fatali” from Final Fantasy VIII and “Theme of Laura” from Silent Hill 2. To satiate backers’ ears, Tallarico has released an eight-minute teaser featuring some of the tunes fans can expect to hear on the album. Judging from what I’ve heard, I think it’s sounding pretty darn good.
Video Games Live Level 3 will be made available in digital and physical formats next week on Feb. 18. And in case you missed it, I interviewed Tallarico last month regarding his work on the album at MAGFest 12.
Saunter past the break for the teaser.
For thousands of years, monuments have been built honoring everything ranging from gods, famous leaders and rockstars. But never has there truly been a monument celebrating a game and its players – until now.
CCP Games, the creators of EVE Online and Dust 514 will erecting such a monument. Set to be built in Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, the company is planning to make their physical “thank you” to fans more than 16 feet tall, placed on a pedestal that will list and honor the most active players.
CCP Games CEO Hilmar Veigar Petursson gave a statement declaring the importance of the monument.
“Honoring [the players] as part of a timeless monument shows how virtual lives and adventures have reached a new level of meaning and impact that weaves into and enhances those that happen in this world. We are humbled by all those that have joined us on the journey so far, and it’s our hope that this physical piece will continue to gather energy and relevance into decades to come, becoming like EVE Online and outliving us all.”
Whether you see this as the next evolution in monument designs or simply a publicity stunt, which game do you think deserves a monument next?
There’s a first for everything, even when it concerns Rocky IV and Transformers: The Movie composer Vince DiCola, who has just released his very first videogame music score in the form of the Saturday Morning RPG Original Soundtrack.
Although DiCola is no stranger to working on games, having arranged a track for Gran Tursimo 5 in the past, Saturday Morning RPG marks his first full foray into game music scoring. The soundtrack, released under the banner of Scarlet Moon Records, is comprised of all the tunes from Mighty Rabbit Studios’ Saturday Morning RPG, an episodic RPG available on iOS, PC, Mac, Linux and OUYA. As the name suggests, the game places a heavy emphasis 80s Saturday morning cartoons, which is clearly a good fit for DiCola’s progressive rock and synth-laden style.
The score as a whole was worked on by both DiCola and his writing partner, Kenny Meriedeth. They are joined by a trio of musicians that game music fans should be familiar with: Jake “virt” Kaufman (Double Dragon Neon, Mighty Switch Force), Grant “stemage” Henry (Metroid Metal, LONELYROLLINGSTARS) and Dmitry “C-jeff” Zhemkov (Big Steel Wheels, Preschtale).
By the power of Peter Molyneux, it’s happening.
The first step of many baby steps towards the long awaited Season Three of Video Game High School is taking place. Production company Rocket Jump is starting an Indie Gogo crowd sourcing campaign for the next and final season for VGHS, with a long list of rewards and stretch goals set along the way.
For those still living under a rock, VGHS features a bunch of rag-tag teens competing in an elite school that focuses on headshots in FPS games instead of getting straight As in AP Government.
Series founders Freddie Wong and Matt Arnold are asking for $750,000 to fully fund production, development and location costs by Feb. 22.
As part of the final season, Wong and Arnold look to resolve some cliffhangers from the award winning web series. However, they have also teased the possibility of a movie. As of this writing, VGHS Season Three has raised $73,339.
Fans of The Witcher have gotten to know the series’ protagonist Geralt of Rivia pretty well over the years. They’ve slain mythical beasts countless times, traversed the complex sociopolitical situation of The Continent and bedded many, many “fair” maidens along the way.
Yet in an announcement made by CD Projekt RED, those same fans will see the silver haired badass in a totally new way – in cardboard.
“We are very pleased to partner with CD Projekt RED on The Witcher Adventure Game. The story and the setting of The Witcher really lends itself to an adventure board game. We’re looking forward to players being able to craft their own narrative during the course of the game,” Fantasy Flight Games’ Senior VP of Communication and Digital Business Steve Horvath said.