Sunday, July 19, 2009

190 Days UP - "And everything you thought was just so important doesn't matter..."

EDIT: Belated but honorable mention to Mega Man 2. Yes Jarret, that game did have an awesome soundtrack...

I was a very late bloomer when it came to music. I think before high school, I could only say I knew the works of two artists: Michael Jackson, and Weird Al Yankovic, whom I discovered through his parodies of the late pop singer.
Hmm, I remember him looking fatter here.

Having said this, there was video game music I was absolutely passionate about as a kid. To this day, one of my favorite video game soundtracks of all time belongs to Final Fantasy IV (which was Final Fantasy II in the States, at the time I played it), scored by the legendary Nobuo Uematsu, who managed to move my heart with just about every 16 bit digital midi track* he put into that game. From the adrenaline pumping battle music, to the whimsical character songs and victory fanfare, and finally the sorrowful songs that would play whenever tragedy struck your party.

I used to pause the game (assuming the music kept playing) and lay down on my bed just listening to what was probably a 2:00 minute loop of the song over and over again. I did this with a few games - only my super duper personal favorites (one in particular I've mentioned before) that I would have scoured the internet and downloaded at the time, had that been an option. Super Castlevania IV, a few tracks from Street Fighter 2 (random, I know), a lot of stuff from A Link To The Past, and even the final stage in Little Nemo: The Dream Master.

I don't know if it left me with an 'unrefined' taste in music - but heck, even if it did, I don't think most people got to really experience music like I did as a kid. To have this intense, operatic score start to blare right as the party you spent 50+ hours with, traveling and fighting along on a journey prepares to fight this awe encompassing final battle against Zeromus - a demon from another planet (the second moon, to be precise) - is nothing short of mind-blowing.
My greatest accomplishment as a 13 year old.

And honestly, it really can't be compared to say, seeing Billy Joel at the Jones Beach Theater for the first time. I mean, he's great and all*, don't get me wrong. But game music, when done well was just...so much more. These amazing soundtracks shaped the experience as much as (if not moreso) the script, the sprites, and the controller.

Video game music shifted once it became pretty much like real music. And with a few exceptions, sadly it's just not as memorable anymore - though this could just be me finally having some legitimately great music compare it to*. There was just something about being that age at that time, having that level of interest in games/lack of interest in 'real' music that made for the perfect storm of...well, me being a huge geek about this stuff.

-Matt

Currently Playing: Just beat Prince of Persia, and of course they got me to download the epilogue right away (I still don't know how I feel about giving us the cliffhanger ending just to ensure we download the rest of the story), and after owning the Orange Box for nearly two years I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel with Half Life 2 - of course with Parts 1 and 2 still waiting to be touched. After reading a glowing review from Mr. Justin McElroy, I decided to try out the point and click adventure game Ben There, Dan That, and quickly followed that up with a purchase of Time Gentlemen, Please! Dabbled a bit in an enjoyable, discounted N+, and I finally got around to buying (but not quite yet unwrapping) Professor Layton and The Curious Village.

*I may be butchering the terminology - again, late bloomer
*Nothing's the matter, Mr. Joel, I'm sorry I got you started on that tangent
*Obvioulsy I'm referring to Fall Out Boy

Thursday, July 9, 2009

180 Days UP - "Keep a calendar this way you will always know..."

I just had one of those rare days where I feel like I barely did anything, but a lot of stuff still got done. Does that make any sense?

In any event, I have some exciting news! I was recently asked to become a blogger for a new gaming website, ampedgaming, all thanks to this blog! I'm extremely thankful for the opportunity, and I like to think of this as the latest sweet reward for my year off back in 2008. Check out the site if you have any interest in gaming news - and/or random silly pictures of me. My posting nickname is RC Jester (like my gamertag). I plan to continue writing in this blog, as I don't think the gaming community is quite ready for updates on my cat, my time at the gym, or an update on my earwax situation (stay tuned for this post, loyal readers).

So - six months back into playing games, and I feel like I've managed to strike a nice balance of being a productive gamer (also known as a slacker) and a productive member of society (also known as an upstanding citizen?). Of course being unemployed for five months certainly helped.

Finally, I was late to the party, but I'm currently having my mind BLOWN by The Wire. I've written in the past about having a great appreciation for great television - one that takes the slow burn approach to its characters, its plot and its themes. I don't think there's ever been a show to do things as well as this show. And I'm only three seasons in! If you like good television, and you consider yourself a fairly patient person (I'll admit it takes a little while to suck you in), then do yourself a favor and check out this show on DVD if you haven't already.

-Matt

Currently Playing: N+ (thank you for the discount, Microsoft), Prince of Persia, and I finally started Patapon this week. All good games, and pretty enjoyable, but I feel like I waiting to hooked on something like I am with the Wire right now. Ah, well - Fall's practically around the corner!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

172 Days UP - "Pull over the car, pull over the car, I think I see some sweet squirrel rim..."

I don't remember many of the details of my dream from last night, but I know at some point I was with a friend who had had a bit too much to drink. We were roaming the streets of New York City looking for our car, and when we finally found it my friend drunkenly pulled out his keys and told me to get in. I hesitated and told him he was way too drunk, and when that didn't work, what did I do next? I said to myself: "this seems dangerous, and stupid. I should save my game."

I really need to start keeping a dream journal.

-Matt