Wildcat’s Favorite Gaming Soundtracks (2012)

A little bit ago I revised my Top 100 tunes in gaming, and had the thought of deciphering my overall favorite soundtracks as well. I’ve decided to select 50 games to represent the best of the best in terms of gaming music, and here they are. There are no limits on this one, so you’ll see a few franchises well represented here. The Top 15 will be at the top, including links to the individual playlists. The remaining selections will be below and merely listed. All are in alphabetical order. I hope you all like these soundtracks as much as I do!

TOP 15:

Age of Mythology (PC, Microsoft/Ensemble Studios, Stephen Rippy/Kevin McCullan)

Batman (NES, Sunsoft, Naoki Kodaka/Nobuyuki Hara)

Beyond Good & Evil (Multi, UBI Soft, Christophe Héral)

Body Harvest (N64, Midway/DMA Design, Stuart Ross/Allan Walker)

Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin (DS, Konami, Michiru Yamane/Yuko Koshiro)

Chrono Trigger (SNES, Square-Enix, Yasunori Mitsuda/Nobuo Uemetsu)

Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of a Cursed King (PS2, Square-Enix/Level-5, Koichi Sugiyama)

Hotel Dusk: Room 215 (DS, CiNG/Nintendo, Yuhki Mori/Satoshi Okubo)

Mega Man 3 (NES, Capcom, Yasuaki Fujita)

Metroid (NES, Nintendo, Hirokazu “Hip” Tanaka)

Okami (PS2, Capcom, Masami Ueda, Hiroshi Yamaguchi, Hiroyuki Hamada, Rei Kondo and Akari Groves)

Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 (PS2, Atlus, Shoji Meguro)

Skies of Arcadia (DC, Sega/Overworks, Yutaka Minobe/Takayuki Maeda)

Super Mario 64 (N64, Nintendo, Koji Kondo)

Super Metroid (SNES, Nintendo, Kenji Yamamoto/Minako Hamano)

The Rest:

Age of Empires III (PC, Microsoft/Ensemble Studios, Stephen Rippy/Kevin McCullan)
Banjo-Kazooie (N64, Rare/Nintendo, Grant Kirkhope)
A Boy and his Blob (Wii, Majesco/Wayforward, Daniel Sadowski)
Castlevania (NES, Konami, Kinuyo Yamashita)
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PS1, Konami, Michiru Yamane)
Contra (NES, Konami, Hidenori Maezawa, Kyouhei Sada, KONAMI KuKeiHa Club)
Deus Ex (PC, Ion Storm/Eidos, Alexander Brandon, Dan Gardopée, Michiel van den Bos, Reeves Gabrels)
Dragon Quest IX (DS, Square-Enix/Level-5, Koichi Sugiyama)
Final Fantasy III (SNES, Square-Enix, Nobuo Uemetsu)
Fire Emblem (GBA, Nintendo/Intelligent Systems, Yuka Tsujiyoko)
Goldeneye 007 (N64, Rare/Nintendo, Graeme Norgate)
Heroes of Might and Magic IV (PC, New World Computing/3DO, Paul Romero, Rob King, Steve Baca, Paul James)
King of Fighters Evolution (NeoGeo, SNK Playmore, NeoGeo Music Performance Group)
Kirby’s Adventure (NES, HAL Labs/Nintendo, Hirokazu Andō/Jun Ishikawa)
Kirby’s Epic Yarn (Wii, HAL Labs/Feel Good/Nintendo, Tomoya Tomita, Hirokazu Andō, Jun Ishikawa)
The Last Blade 2 (NeoGeo, SNK Playmore, NeoGeo Music Performance Group)
Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64, Nintendo, Koji Kondo)
Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (GC, Nintendo, Koji Kondo, Toru Minegishi, Asuka Ota)
Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals (DS, Neverland/Square-Enix/Natsume, Yasunori Shiono, Tomoko Morita, Yukio Nakajima)
Metroid Prime (GC, Nintendo/Retro Studios, Kenji Yamamoto)
Monster Tale (DS, Majesco/Dreamrift, Ian Stocker)
Muramasa: The Demon Blade (Wii, Vanillaware/Ignition, Hitoshi Sakimoto, Masaharu Iwata, Mitsuhiro Kaneda, Noriyuki Kamikura, Kimihiro Abe, Yoshimi Kudo, Azusa Chiba)
Ogre Battle 64 (N64, Square-Enix/Quest, Hayato Matsuo, Masaharu Iwata, Hitoshi Sakimoto)
Power Blade (NES, Taito/Natsume, Kinuyo Yamashita)
Rayman Origins (Multi, UBI Soft, Christophe Héral/Billy Martin)
Red Dead Redemption (PS3/Xbox 360, Rockstar/Rockstar San Diego, Bill Elm/Woody Jackson)
Secret of Mana (SNES, Square-Enix, Hiroki Kikuta)
Shadow Hearts: From the New World (PS2, Nautilus/Aruze/XSEED, Yoshitaka Hirota/Tomoko Imoto)
Sid Meier’s Pirates! (PC, Firaxis/Take 2, Mark Cromer/Michael Curran)
Silent Hill 3 (PS2, Konami, Akira Yamaoka)
Super Mario Galaxy (Wii, Nintendo, Koji Kondo/Mahito Yokota)
Tales of Symphonia (GC, Namco Bandai, Motoi Sakuraba/Shusaku Uchiyama)
Xenoblade Chronicles (Wii, Monolith Soft/Nintendo, Yoko Shinomura, ACE+, Yasunori Mitsuda, Manami Kiyota)
Zoda’s Revenge: Startropics II (NES, Nintendo, Y. Hirai/T. Kumegawa)

Wildcat’s 100 Favorite Game Tunes (2012)

Last year, I put up 100 tracks from gaming that I absolutely loved. However, as the year has rolled by, I think that I’ve cooled off on some of those songs and fell in love with others I had omitted. With that in mind, I feel that it’s a good time to revisit that idea and update the list. This year’s edition will increase the Top choices to ten. I will continue to operate under the rules set last year by keeping the list diversified through not picking all of, say, Mega Man 3′s soundtrack. Only two tracks per game will be allowed. Youtube clips are provided so you can sample the music, however, I can not constantly update this page with new links as Youtube users or copyright owners shut clips down! I’ve done quite a few Song Highlights on these tunes if you’d like to dig through and read why I like some of these songs. Enjoy!

TOP 10


Mega Man 3, Protoman’s Whistle Concert, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uikEuigprFE


Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Midna’s Lament, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7GWf3e_I3w


Chrono Trigger, Memories of Green, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sr9-OcPLO3M


Beyond Good & Evil, Home Sweet Home, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jTdcJWDNsao


Castlevania, Wicked Child, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E7PFm7mrdVY

rdr1
Red Dead Redemption, Far Away,
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IkvAb6THQY

Okami, Shinshu Plains (1 and 2), http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yKG-Qu4WvM

Silent Hill 3, You’re Not Here, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wz3ufaZCoVw

Secret of Mana, Into the Thick of It, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3N9lrq-rks

Skies of Arcadia, Lower Valua, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vlJxG1FmMOU

The Rest:
A Boy and his Blob (Wii), Forest, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SC_u7bmVsSc
A Boy and his Blob (Wii), Plains, http://youtu.be/pfmiI9AttYc
Age of Empires III, A Hot Meal, http://youtu.be/jB1R5s3PVEM
Age of Mythology, Suture Self, http://youtu.be/KhvklZT0LMg
Age of Mythology, Chocolate Outline, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IBpz9S6I07g
Batman (NES), Stage 1/5, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MlGDKfgz4fA
Batman (NES), Stage 3, http://youtu.be/zERK-4IgQAg
Beyond Good & Evil, Hillyan Suite, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p48dpXQixgk
Bionic Commando (NES), Area 1, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2hl5UCCBCXI
Bionic Commando (NES), Area 2, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIvcYCbWMfY
Blast Corps., Angel City, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k2eRyyj_NCo
Blaster Master, Level 1, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LUnwRFMo6D0
Blaster Master, Level 2, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIjIUyXrBJg
Body Harvest, Outdoors (Violin), http://youtu.be/pC41_–XeqQ
Body Harvest, Indoors (piano), http://youtu.be/wURLANzjDLk
Breath of Fire, Deep Forest, http://youtu.be/1iCbSLFrqrU
California Games (NES), Flying Disc, http://youtu.be/5iYMN2FKkoY
Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest, Bloody Tears, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EjazC45Qkww
Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin, Jail of Jewel, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GtRdjcXfXsc
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Dracula’s Castle, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UgF0uBjCds0
Cave Story, On to Grasstown, http://youtu.be/VlmOhXoKmoQ
Chrono Trigger, Wind Scene (Yearning of Wind), http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RqZaFDA7PXY
Contra (NES), Level 3, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U58a-svZok8
Deus Ex, Hong Kong Streets 1, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzvw8uSWucM
Diablo, Tristram Village, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8jJJXgNLo4
Dragon Quest IX, Heaven’s Prayer, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=myjd1MnZx5Y
Dragon Quest VIII, Strange World, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kN9Up_0zuUs
Dragon Quest VIII, Heavenly Flight, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=taVdFgxvhRg
Ducktales, Transylvania, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2UuHesrJROw
Final Fantasy, Temple of Fiends, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hW56QbT0lrM
Final Fantasy VI, Terra’s Theme, http://youtu.be/W7RPY-oiDAQ
Fire Emblem (7 in series order), Wind Across the Plains, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SFWOvIrBCgc
F-Zero GX, Captain Falcon’s Theme, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-L0pW3Eol6k
Grandia II, Mirumu, http://youtu.be/ZG_oW5XH71Y
Heroes of Might and Magic IV, Swamp Lands, http://youtu.be/Cffc_s0eN5Q
Hotel Dusk: Room 215, The Last Sleep, http://youtu.be/BwdCg8Gqqfk
Jet Grind Radio, Magical Girl, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_h9f939bW3c
Kirby’s Epic Yarn, Butter Building, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JfdJbaCfXjQ
Kirby’s Adventure, Ending, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2OVKyjZs-nU
The Last Ninja, Stage 1, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hiLvoMpLQFA
Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Forest Temple, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4o3EMdYaKw
Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Spirit Temple, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C0PVz2pIEcw
Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Kakariko Village, http://youtu.be/LdERRFGaUjY
Mario Kart 64, Credits, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYwZT3CvpMw
Mega Man 2, Air Man, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FINefcN9pPc
Mega Man 3, Snake Man, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EM-Fub7Oc_A
Mega Man 5, Wave Man, http://youtu.be/Nd2O6mbhCLU
Mega Man 6, Flame Man, http://youtu.be/qdWeTin2mho
Mega Man 6, Mr. X stages, http://youtu.be/uhJ7Ss-puVY
Metroid, Ending, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQeUkUp4uRc
Metroid Prime, Phendrana Drifts (second version), http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZbbUv1hz6mE
Metroid Prime, Tallon Overworld, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mziw3FQkZYg
Monster Tale, Ancient Ruins, http://youtu.be/iQ1D6UJW5Jg
M.U.L.E., Main Theme, http://youtu.be/VI2e-jwjhN4
Muramasa: The Demon Blade, Seifu Meigetsu A, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUF1lkbvoUs
Muramasa: The Demon Blade, Bosyoku Souzen A, http://youtu.be/c9qBwD4bxO8
Ogre Battle 64, Premonition, http://youtu.be/Rel-IOyQTX0
Ogre Battle 64, The Sensational World, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cSnlp1YAUJ0
Okami, Reset, http://youtu.be/zpuGNH75pUc
Perfect Dark, Chicago – Stealth, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJbwLjKhVGw
Persona 4, Your Affection, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ChrBp1pEGM
Persona 4, The Almighty, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNVMKpk__HQ
Phoenix Wright: Trials and Tribulations, The Dark Fragrance of Coffee, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxzTrWUajZg
Portal, Still Alive, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6ljFaKRTrI
Portal 2, Want You Gone, http://youtu.be/jBdRaGSI4jU
Power Blade, Level 4 – Tower, http://youtu.be/c-R6Zp3n608
Rayman Origins, Sea of Serendipity – Panic at the Port!, http://youtu.be/5UVPJxSmt54
Rayman Origins, Sea of Serendipity – Lums of the Water (“Glou Glou”), http://youtu.be/oNV2uakCtzs
Secret of Mana, A Wish, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLK8IrYrZxA
Shadow Hearts: From the New World, Dead Fingers Talk, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5clzlxOZQeU
Shadow Hearts: From the New World, Adios, http://youtu.be/-lkRjV7Zp-k
Silent Hill, Silent Hill, http://youtu.be/_EN-_1OGtUY
Silent Hill 2, Laura, http://youtu.be/6LB7LZZGpkw
Silent Hill 3, Breeze ~in monochrome light~, http://youtu.be/OneUwrYiGIw
Skies of Arcadia, Kingdom of Ixa’taka, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0F-hJjD3XAs
Sly 2: Band of Thieves, Dmitri’s Nightclub, http://youtu.be/RCX3tV7lSdk
Sonic CD, Sonic Boom, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJXKoubh9sQ
Super Ghouls and Ghosts, Ice Forest, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4URokdL-dfM
Super Mario 64, Koopa’s (Bowser’s) Road, http://youtu.be/0rygsWPCjNQ
Super Mario 64, Water Course Theme (Dire Dire Docks), http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uqcPSbkS9TQ
Super Mario Galaxy, Gusty Garden Galaxy, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-z2kxFCQ_mQ
Super Metroid, Maradia, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxobPQMNY_w
Super Metroid, Brinstar (Plant Overgrown), http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ULlqfeNLWY
Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Bramble Blast, http://youtu.be/G3rnyqI7dFc
Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Metroid Theme, http://youtu.be/3MRznLSFGFQ
Tales of Symphonia, Like a Glint of Light, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFWadiZkA_8
Xenoblade Chronicles, Guar Plains, http://youtu.be/xweRl4LZlmo
Xenoblade Chronicles, Title Theme, http://youtu.be/nNR-wsFAfiU
Zoda’s Revenge: Startropics II, Dungeon Theme #2, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pF-30Dg9Xs4
Zoda’s Revenge: Startropics II, Dungeon Theme #6, http://youtu.be/22ATqffTkIk

 

Dropped from last year:
Banjo-Kazooie, Click Clock Wood (spring)
Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse, Aquarius
Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin, Hail from the Past
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Crystal Teardrops
Contra (NES), Level 1
Donkey Kong Country, Theme (Simian Segue)
Dragon Quest IX, I Won’t Lose
Grandia II, Carbo
Hotel Dusk: Room 215, Big Dreams
Kirby’s Epic Yarn, Outer Rings
Legend of Zelda, Death Mountain (Final Dungeon)
Mega Man 2, Wood Man
Mega Man 5, Charge Man
Persona 4, Reach out to the Truth
Resident Evil 4, Sorrow
Super Mario Galaxy 2, The Tico and the Hat
Super Mario RPG, And My Name’s Booster
Tales of Symphonia, Dry Trail

Modified on 12/26/2012, JF

Tunage – Stephen Rippy

Stephen Rippy

Stephen Rippy’s musical career treads down two paths. He is a singer/songwriter, having recorded nine independent albums of his own material. However, of interest to Tunage is his contributions to Microsoft’s Age of Empires series. He was a member of Ensemble Studios from the start, and was with that developer until their untimely demise following the release of Halo Wars. Rippy’s excellent ear for accurate instrumentation has made each of his soundtracks for Ensemble a musical odyssey, with several standout tracks that define the sound of their respective games. Since Ensemble’s closure, Rippy joined Bonfire Games. After it merged with Zynga, he became the company’s Audio Director, a position he still holds.

Rippy has created some of the most memorable music in PC gaming history, and he absolutely deserves a place among the greatest musicians in gaming lore. Thus, LVLs. is honored to induct Rippy into Tunage’s halls.

Complete Discography (from newest to oldest):

CastleVille (2011, Zynga, PC, music composition and sound design)

Adventure Bay (2010, ngmoco, iPad/iPhone, Original Release’s music composition and sound design)

Game Chest (2010, Microsoft, Windows Phone 7, music composition and sound design)

We Farm (2010, ngmoco, iPad/iPhone, Original Release’s music composition and sound design)

Halo Wars (2009, Microsoft, PC/Xbox 360, Music composition)

Age of Empires III: The Asian Dynasties Expansion (2007, Microsoft, PC, Music and sound design consulting)

Age of Empires III: The WarChiefs Expansion (2006, Microsoft, PC, Music composition and sound design)

Age of Empires III (2005, Microsoft, PC, Music composition and sound design w. Kevin McMullan)

Age of Mythology: The Titans Expansion (2003, Microsoft, PC, Music composition and sound design w. Kevin McMullan)

Age of Mythology (2002, Microsoft, PC, Music composition and sound design w. Kevin McMullan)

Age of Empires II: The Conquerors Expansion (2000, Microsoft, PC, Music composition w. Kevin McMullan)

Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings (1999, Microsoft, PC, Music composition w. David Rippy)

Age of Empires: The Rise of Rome Expansion (1998, Microsoft, PC, Music composition w. David Rippy)

Age of Empires (1997, Microsoft, PC, Music composition w. David Rippy and Kevin McMullan)

Examples of his Work:

Age of Empires (PC)

Hunt (w. David Rippy)

Full Playlist (more…)

Wildcat’s Ten Favorite PC Games (Updated 8/23/2012)

Well, I fell off of the “favorite games per platform” bandwagon for a couple months…school can do that to you, I suppose. With a bit of a break in my workload, I wanted to finally share my personal picks for the best in PC gaming enjoyment.  This will include Commodore 64 titles alongside the contemporary. Let’s start!

Portal (Valve)

Portal really is one of the most astoundingly brilliant games I’ve played. It balances an amazing gameplay mechanic, clever level design and a gripping narrative into one seamlessly glorious experience. Well worth looking into this one!

Morrowind (Bethesda Software)

Morrowind is by far one of the most engrossing games I’ve sunken time into. I love wandering around in its vast world with my avatars, creating their mythos and fleshing out their characters. The combat is a little boneheaded, but otherwise I have no complaints with this game whatsoever. More on it here.

M.U.L.E. (Electronic Arts/Ozark Software)

Man, I am still stunned this game is as old as I am, because it’s so sophisticated for its age (see here). The creators of M.U.L.E. were incredibly progressive, and this gem of a strategy game shines because of it. Consider Planet M.U.L.E., the game’s modern update, if you’re curious to try it out.

Deus Ex (Eidos/Ion Storm)

My first taste of the gameplay philosophy of Warren Spector went incredibly well, I must say. This melding of FPS and RPG is wonderful to play, and it provides plenty of replay thanks to its extensive skills/augmentation tweaking.

Age of Mythology (Microsoft/Ensemble Studios)

I really like the mechanics of this game, making it one of the few cases of real-time strategy I’ve enjoyed. Although the difficulty is a little skewed towards experts of the genre (Medium brings the pain), I have relished playing all three civilizations and leading them to victory.

Heroes of Might and Magic IV (3D0/New World Computing)

This is such a great game, it really is. It may climb a little higher in time when I get the chance to refresh my memory, but this is an excellent example of PC strategy at its finest.

Sam & Max Season 1 (Telltale Games)

I love these guys, I really do. I need to get more episodes. *ahem* The narrative power of the first three episodes is among the finest writing in any game I’ve played, and the quirky world of Sam and Max is endearingly charming (even with all the threats of violence!).

Agent USA (Scholastic/Tom Snyder Productions)

Edutainment done right. Agent USA mixes in compelling gameplay into its educational mission, and succeeds at both teaching and engaging the player. Kudos.

The Bard’s Tale II: The Destiny Knight (Electronic Arts/Interplay)

My favorite of the trilogy, probably due to it being the first western RPG to really capture my interest. It’s a massive beast of a game and I never got very far, but the atmosphere was compelling enough for me to think fondly of the time spent with it. More here.

Sid Meier’s Pirates! (2K Games/Firaxis)

Man, I really do love this game, too. I wish the “siege” and “stealth” parts of the game were a little better than they are, but this medley of gameplay concepts is otherwise exceptional.

Contenders:

Jumpman (Epyx)

Cave Story (Studio Pixel)

Diablo (Blizzard)

Age of Empires III (Microsoft/Ensemble Studios)

Way of the Exploding Fist (Melbourne House)

Wildcat’s 100 Favorite Game Tunes (2011)

Kurt Kalata over at Hardcore Gaming 101 is running a poll to determine what video gaming tunage is most liked among the forum and blog there, and I decided to participate and compile my favorites.  I’ve done quite a few Song Highlights on these tunes, and will be doing plenty more in the near future spotlighting them and providing some explanation, but here’s my list (with Youtube links to sample the song – hopefully they all work!):

TOP 5


Mega Man 3, Protoman’s Whistle Concert, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uikEuigprFE


Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Midna’s Lament, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7GWf3e_I3w


Chrono Trigger, Memories of Green, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sr9-OcPLO3M


Beyond Good & Evil, Home Sweet Home, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jTdcJWDNsao


Castlevania, Wicked Child, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E7PFm7mrdVY

The Rest:
A Boy and his Blob (Wii), Forest, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SC_u7bmVsSc
A Boy and his Blob (Wii), Plains, http://youtu.be/pfmiI9AttYc
Age of Mythology, Suture Self, http://youtu.be/KhvklZT0LMg
Age of Mythology, Chocolate Outline, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IBpz9S6I07g
Banjo-Kazooie, Click Clock Wood (spring), http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lXoaTcf_3vo
Batman (NES), Stage 1/5, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MlGDKfgz4fA
Batman (NES), Stage 3, http://youtu.be/zERK-4IgQAg
Beyond Good & Evil, Hillyan Suite, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p48dpXQixgk
Bionic Commando (NES), Area 1, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2hl5UCCBCXI
Bionic Commando (NES), Area 2, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIvcYCbWMfY
Blaster Master, Level 1, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LUnwRFMo6D0
Blaster Master, Level 2, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIjIUyXrBJg
Body Harvest, Outdoors (Violin), http://youtu.be/pC41_–XeqQ
Body Harvest, Indoors (piano), http://youtu.be/wURLANzjDLk
Breath of Fire, Deep Forest, http://youtu.be/1iCbSLFrqrU
California Games (NES), Flying Disc, http://youtu.be/5iYMN2FKkoY
Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest, Bloody Tears, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EjazC45Qkww
Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse, Aquarius, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MORo75YOHWs
Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin, Hail from the Past, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fg1PDaOnU2Q
Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin, Jail of Jewel, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GtRdjcXfXsc
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Dracula’s Castle, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UgF0uBjCds0
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Crystal Teardrops, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWwJEQt90qk
Chrono Trigger, Wind Scene (Yearning of Wind), http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RqZaFDA7PXY
Contra (NES), Level 1, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5UqXbEwqwF8
Contra (NES), Level 3, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U58a-svZok8
Deus Ex, Hong Kong Streets 1, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzvw8uSWucM
Diablo, Tristram Village, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8jJJXgNLo4
Donkey Kong Country, Theme (Simian Segue), http://youtu.be/nLT1-5laF0A
Dragon Quest IX, Heaven’s Prayer, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=myjd1MnZx5Y
Dragon Quest IX, I Won’t Lose, http://youtu.be/aycArJW4klo
Dragon Quest VIII, Strange World, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kN9Up_0zuUs
Dragon Quest VIII, Heavenly Flight, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=taVdFgxvhRg
Ducktales, Transylvania, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2UuHesrJROw
Fire Emblem (7 in series order), Wind Across the Plains, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SFWOvIrBCgc
F-Zero GX, Captain Falcon’s Theme, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-L0pW3Eol6k
Grandia II, Carbo, http://youtu.be/1XqprRUVSJo
Grandia II, Mirumu, http://youtu.be/ZG_oW5XH71Y
Hotel Dusk: Room 215, Big Dreams, http://youtu.be/cgy5_a9fx4g
Hotel Dusk: Room 215, The Last Sleep, http://youtu.be/BwdCg8Gqqfk
Jet Grind Radio, Magical Girl, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_h9f939bW3c
Kirby’s Epic Yarn, Outer Rings, http://youtu.be/y3DAHtoitXY
Kirby’s Epic Yarn, Butter Building, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JfdJbaCfXjQ
Kirby’s Adventure, Ending, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2OVKyjZs-nU
The Last Ninja, Stage 1, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hiLvoMpLQFA
Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Forest Temple, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4o3EMdYaKw
Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Spirit Temple, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C0PVz2pIEcw
Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Kakariko Village, http://youtu.be/LdERRFGaUjY
Legend of Zelda, Death Mountain (Final Dungeon), http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_NPA7caCsc
Mario Kart 64, Credits, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYwZT3CvpMw
Mega Man 2, Air Man, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FINefcN9pPc
Mega Man 2, Wood Man, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JbK2uCp4-sQ
Mega Man 3, Snake Man, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EM-Fub7Oc_A
Mega Man 5, Wave Man, http://youtu.be/Nd2O6mbhCLU
Mega Man 5, Charge Man, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-PEukLWNKsg
Mega Man 6, Flame Man, http://youtu.be/qdWeTin2mho
Mega Man 6, Mr. X stages, http://youtu.be/uhJ7Ss-puVY
Metroid, Ending, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQeUkUp4uRc
Metroid Prime, Phendrana Drifts (second version), http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZbbUv1hz6mE
Metroid Prime, Tallon Overworld, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mziw3FQkZYg
Monster Tale, Ancient Ruins, http://youtu.be/iQ1D6UJW5Jg
MULE, Main Theme, http://youtu.be/VI2e-jwjhN4
Muramasa: The Demon Blade, Seifu Meigetsu A, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUF1lkbvoUs
Muramasa: The Demon Blade, Bosyoku Souzen A, http://youtu.be/c9qBwD4bxO8
Ogre Battle 64, Premonition, http://youtu.be/Rel-IOyQTX0
Ogre Battle 64, The Sensational World, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cSnlp1YAUJ0
Okami, Shinshu Plains (1 and 2), http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yKG-Qu4WvM
Okami, Hanasaki Valley, http://youtu.be/EtKh1Uac2Og
Perfect Dark, Chicago – Stealth, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJbwLjKhVGw
Persona 4, Your Affection, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ChrBp1pEGM
Persona 4, The Almighty, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNVMKpk__HQ
Persona 4, Reach out to the Truth, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TzFl6sWHmXI
Phoenix Wright: Trials and Tribulations, The Dark Fragrance of Coffee, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxzTrWUajZg
Portal, Still Alive, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6ljFaKRTrI
Red Dead Redemption, Far Away, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IkvAb6THQY
Resident Evil 4, Sorrow (end credits), http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0k4kGkH6Bk
Secret of Mana, A Wish, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLK8IrYrZxA
Secret of Mana, Into the Thick of It, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3N9lrq-rks
Shadow Hearts: From the New World, Dead Fingers Talk, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5clzlxOZQeU
Shadow Hearts: From the New World, Adios, http://youtu.be/-lkRjV7Zp-k
Skies of Arcadia, Kingdom of Ixa’taka, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0F-hJjD3XAs
Skies of Arcadia, Lower Valua, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vlJxG1FmMOU
Silent Hill 3, You’re Not Here, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wz3ufaZCoVw
Sonic CD, Sonic Boom, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJXKoubh9sQ
Super Ghouls and Ghosts, Ice Forest, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4URokdL-dfM
Super Mario 64, Koopa’s (Bowser’s) Road, http://youtu.be/0rygsWPCjNQ
Super Mario 64, Water Course Theme (Dire Dire Docks), http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uqcPSbkS9TQ
Super Mario Galaxy, Gusty Garden Galaxy, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-z2kxFCQ_mQ
Super Mario Galaxy 2, The Tico and the Hat, http://youtu.be/Xev0rnBJIzA
Super Mario RPG, And My Name’s Booster, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJoGF1oLd0o
Super Metroid, Maradia, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxobPQMNY_w
Super Metroid, Brinstar (Plant Overgrown), http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ULlqfeNLWY
Tales of Symphonia, Like a Glint of Light, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFWadiZkA_8
Tales of Symphonia, Dry Trail, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HvnAkAQK82E
Zoda’s Revenge: Startropics II, Dungeon Theme #2, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pF-30Dg9Xs4
Zoda’s Revenge: Startropics II, Dungeon Theme #6, http://youtu.be/22ATqffTkIk

Looking Back: My Favorite Game of 2002

Has it really been three months since I last did this feature?  Yikes.

2002 was a good year for me.  I began feeling more comfortable at college, and was quickly realizing that high school was a whole heap of bullshit served for a four year duration.  College was so liberating – I finally was feeling like I was not a target for insults, and that I could be accepted for who I was without sacrificing crucial elements of myself to do so.  I made some great friends, had a wonderful time with the drama program, and treasure those days to this very day.  They were very good times, times that were long in coming.

Beyond school, I had gotten my first pair of glasses.  In high school I had denied that my eyes were slowly deteriorating even as I had to sit upfront to read a white board – I think this was in part of a “hey, who wants ANOTHER reason to be made fun of?” line of thinking that I had latched onto while languishing, but I will never forget the moments after getting my glasses and putting them on.  It sounds really dumb to anyone who has 20/20 vision, but I had completely forgotten that trees had texture – individual leaves and branches that didn’t blur together to make a mass of green.  The clarity stunned me and made me realize how foolish I was to allow myself to let my vision suffer all because I was afraid of being teased a little more.  But, sometimes the fear of piling on more attention, positive or negative, can make one’s mind do weird and irrational things.

It was around this time that I had decided that I wanted to get into anime.  I bought Princess Mononoke first, and well…I’ve explained why that movie is so important to me elsewhere, so I’ll refrain from further comments here.  I relished the new medium, and picked arguably the best time to get into the craze, as it was right in its glorious golden age in America where product was readily available and was about to burst forth a plethora of merch on top of the DVD’s.  I discovered Trigun, Outlaw Star, Tenchi Muyo and Gundam Wing in this exciting time, and would soon be floored by such legendary pieces of anime like Cowboy Bebop, Spirited Away, Rurouni Kenshin, FLCL and Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust.  Alas, the balloon on American anime saturation would burst early, and my enthusiasm would go along it.  I still like anime, but it’s no longer an essential part of my daily life like it once was.  That is not to say that I have shunned it or anything – I have enjoyed some more modern shows like Ouran High School Host Club, Fruits Basket, and Le Chevalier D’eon.  But it’s just not something that compels me like it had.

I got a Game Boy Advance in 2002, if my memory’s not mistaken, and I had a fair amount of good times with my first portable.  I had a chance to explore Fire Emblem, becoming quite enamored with its strategic gameplay and excellent characters (who could die if I was careless, never to return).  Experiencing my first Metroid-inspired Castlevanias, Harmony of Dissonance (so-so) and Aria of Sorrow (spectacular).  Getting my hands on a true Treasure action title with Astro Boy: Omega Factor.  Not understanding what people see in Advance Wars. :p  I still have my Classic NES model and it sees a lot of action these days, as I am quite addicted to the GBA Street Fighter Alpha 3 for no inexplicable reason other than it’s fun to waste time with.

I also got my Super NES this year, thanks to my college friend Seth.  I had missed out on the 16-bit wars, so I’ve had a thrill trying out a ton of games I missed out on when I was a kid.  Super Metroid and Chrono Trigger left the largest imprints so far, but I’ve got a heap of games to still try out.  I got pretty lucky to snag some of the rarer cartridges, like Ogre Battle: March of the Black Queen, Earthbound, and Lufia II, but I need to actually play them to truly appreciate them. XD

Next year is a big year in terms of memories, so I’m looking forward to…um…looking back. :p

Shortlist:


The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (PC, Bethesda)

Morrowind drops the player into a huge, open-ended world where the player’s imagination can truly run wild.  Fighters, mages, thieves and archers, or crosses and blends of those basic classes provide an infinite amount of replay and exploration.  A fantastic example of Western RPG design at its finest.


Age of Mythology (PC, Microsoft/Ensemble Software)

Age of Mythology has the best gameplay mechanics in the Age of… series if you ask me, with excellent diversity in the three powers you get to control.  It also helps that the game itself is a joy to partake.


Metroid Prime (GC, Nintendo/Retro Studios)

Samus’ first adventure under the direction of Retro Studios is among the best in the franchise’s storied history – Retro managed to recapture the discovery, awe and isolation the series does so well, and does it quite handily.  The first-person perspective does little to erase the pleasure – in fact, it brings a whole new side to the mythos of Metroid via the scan visor and precise gameplay.

 

In my opinion, the best game of 2002 was…


The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (PC, Bethesda)

Morrowind is a game I yearned to play for years and years before I had the opportunity to.  My old PC wasn’t up to the task.  Grace (somehow or another) had it on her laptop, and after we got together I had a chance to try it out, but the laptop’s touch pad was too persnickety for me to appreciate the gameplay (and the mouse didn’t seemingly work on her laptop, either), so I didn’t get to give it a proper runthrough until 2007 with the arrival of our current desktop.  It ran faster, controlled beautifully, and looked as good as it could get.  I set out with Chadwick (who is now named Delton in my Black Blood project), a paladin who wanted to subdue political corruption and free the poor slaves scattered throughout Vvardenfell.  My imagination took Chadwick on his own unique quest, crushing evil as he encountered it and ending the life of the dastardly sinister Orvas Dren, one of the seedier characters populating Morrowind.  After his death, Chadwick took over the estate and proclaimed it his own, populating its rooms with books, weapons, treasures and artifacts found along his travels.  Chadwick took on Dagoth Ur the correct, scripted way, ending that tyrant’s vain attempts to dominate the world.  Armed with his fiery blade and the sacred shield, Chadwick’s journey obviously left a strong imprint on me.  I relished wandering around Morrowind’s vast continent of Vvardenfell, interacting with its denizens, combating its enemies, and uncovering its secrets.  Chadwick’s quest was in turn my quest, my personal exploration into a game I had been dying to try, and now found myself quite attached to.

Further adventures have followed.  Karah, a necromancer in Black Blood, blossomed into a vengeful woman out to destroy the Redoran for slaughtering her family as she was young.  She rose to the top of the Telvanni, mastered many magical spells (especially in Conjuration and Destruction), crafted a wicked soul-rending short sword, and she too led me on a unique and rewarding journey.  Karah’s motives were darker and more bloody than Chadwick’s, and her focus on magic over brute strength changed the way I experienced the world of Morrowind significantly.  She also got a custom fortress thanks to my tinkering with the Construction Set, although I have inadvertently caused a bug to happen, so I’ll probably need to rebuild it down the road.  Kryst, the rogue you’ve seen in So..this Webcomic and Black Blood, had a short-lived quest of stealing the tons of treasure inside Vivec’s vaults, and became quite the wanted fugitive for it.  Not being able to talk to the majority of the game’s characters due to her enormous bounty has made that particular attempt somewhat unfun, though.  Nicole, an archer, developed her own unique quest with the expansions, ending Almalexia’s reign over Mournhold and conquering Bloodmoon’s werewolves.

In short, Morrowind has been a magical game for me, as it allows me to live out my own imagination in physical form.  I can take these concepts and give them a new lease on life beyond sketches and words.  And the gameplay is just about perfect.  The combat is choppy, but on the whole it’s only one piece of the grander puzzle.  I adore Morrowind, and it’s just shy of being an absolute of mine.  Definitely one of the best games I’ve played, and I felt that sharing my personal time and investments within its borders with my avatars would make a stronger argument than breaking it down gameplay-wise (which, hey, I’ve already done!).

Some personal anecdotes:

I will admit that yes, I use God Mode to play Morrowind.  Some may find that a sin, but personally, I’ve gotten so much out of the game that I don’t mind never truly dying.  Some of the strategy may disappear, but I’m not delving into it so deeply for the combat side of things – I’m doing it more to develop my characters and getting them closer to their goals that I’ve put in place for them.

The great thing about Morrowind is that it’s pretty difficult to be able to say “I’ve seen everything it has to offer”.  It’s such a huge game that each playthrough has opened up some new element or location I hadn’t been to before, and that’s part of the joy for me.

The expansions are fun additions, but lack the creative level design of the original game.  Dungeons in particular use less unique tiles and repeat a lot of the same map types over and over again, which Oblivion continued in greater severity.  That said, it’s nice to have two more areas to wade through, and the new enemies and gear make up for the lack of variety underground.

Grace has beaten the game without God Mode, and I applaud her for that.  That is a feat, if I may say so.

So stoked about Skyrim right now I can’t even tell you.

Do hate Cliff Racers, though.

Age of Mythology

Bomberman Jetters (video game)

Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem

Golden Sun: The Lost Age

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

Heroes of Might and Magic IV

Kingdom Hearts (video game)

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

Mega Man Zero (video game)

Metal Slug 4

Metroid Fusion

Metroid Prime

Resident Evil (2002 video game)

Shinobi (2002 video game)

Soulcalibur II

Super Mario Sunshine

TimeSplitters 2

Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos

Wild Arms 3

Back to 2001Forward to 2003

Song Highlights – Age of Mythology, Persona 4, Kirby’s Adventure, Ducktales

Warning – Spoilers follow below!

aom

Age of Mythology – Chocolate Outline (PC, Microsoft/Ensemble Studios, Steven Rippy and Kevin McMullan)

Age of Mythology is loaded with some majestic scores that delightfully sync with the gameplay, but this one is the most memorable to me. Its pounding drums, melodic use of Middle-Eastern string instruments, and subtle percussion captures the Egyptian motif, and I really get a thrill out of riding off to battle with this backing me.

p4-1

Persona 4 – The Almighty: Ameno-Sagiri Boss Fight (PS2, Atlus, Shoji Meguro)

Man, now this is how someone needs to do a boss theme. Just incredible. Once the initial salvo of guitar, bass and drums flies by and the soaring chorus begins, that’s when this song really goes into the stratosphere – I felt goosebumps as the hopeful piano pierces through the hard rock bubbling underneath (it still tickles me now). Capturing your four teenage hero’s determination against the seemingly impossible odds, creating the right amount of tension and pressure to help push you through this tough, long battle…man. I adore this song.

kaend

Kirby’s Adventure – Ending (NES, Nintendo/Hal Labs, Hirokazu Andō, Jun Ishikawa)

After defeating Nightmare, Kirby’s return home is accompanied by this delicate hymn that I’ve always liked. As he drifts through the clouds and stars, the twinkling effect that drives the tune fades into a crescendo of some of the NES’s most enlightening notes, supplying Kirby (and the player) some deep satisfaction of saving Dream Land.

dt

Ducktales – Transylvania (NES, Capcom, Yoshihiro Sakaguchi)

Most people seem to like The Moon the most from this soundtrack, but the creepy aria that backs Ducktales’ haunted mansion took root in me. Gloomy, with enough dread and despair to personify the location, this is one of the system’s darkest songs. Ducktales had a knack for matching the music to its stage, but this is the most effective in my view. I’d love to hear a cover band rock this (Minibosses, Advantage, anybody?).

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