Song Highlights – Dreamcast 13th Anniversary Edition

It’s 9-9, so it’s clearly time for the annual “LVLs. Loves the Dreamcast” festivities. This year will be a little more subdued than the last couple due to school needs, but I’ve got plans to do this and an Artistic Discussion to properly remember Sega’s final console. Let’s showcase some musical memories!

Grandia II – Carbo (DC, UBI Soft/Gamearts, Noriyuki Iwadare)

I may have just removed this from my Top 100, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad song! No, in fact it is an extraordinarily great village theme in a game loaded with solid music for its towns. This was a hard one to remove, that it was. I may have been disenchanted by my last replay of Grandia II and no longer own it, but I’m still digging its music.

Jet Grind Radio – Sweet Soul Brother (DC, Sega/Smilebit, Hideki Nagamura)

Jet Grind Radio has one of the more eclectic and fresh soundtracks in any game, and this is a solid representative of its Japanese-infused sound. Hyper yet chill at the same time, quite the feat.

The Last Blade II – Swordsmen (Select Screen, NeoGeo/Dreamcast, SNK/Agetec, Neo-Geo Music Performance Group)

While the Dremacast port suffers from a less dynamic soundtrack choice (it went with the original cart’s music over the grander CD tracks), the tension this song creates is still incredible. It sets the mood for The Last Blade so well that I think it could be the best Character Select screen music out there for a fighter.

Resident Evil: Code Veronica – The Code is Veronica (DC, Capcom, Takeshi Miura, Hijiri Anze, Sanae Kasahara)

I really like the mood of this one, although the context is long lost. XD It’s got a nice heroic touch to it.

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

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 2000

2000 was a good year as far as high school went.  Despite Chad’s departure, I was able to meet some awesome new people.  Anthony entered my life due to a Home Economics (i.e. Cooking) class, and we became fast friends.  He and I would spend oodles and oodles of time together while he was in high school, and he was the best man at my wedding.  He was there in many of my gaming memories – beating Street Fighter Alpha 3′s Dramatic Battle together, witnessing me crush the super-hard final stages in World Tour Mode (same game), me serving as his fighting game trainer (as Chris had done with me), playing Marvel Vs. Capcom 2, Alpha 3, Smash Bros. Melee, Capcom Vs. SNK 2 and Soul Calibur with me all the time.  It was a rare weekend when we weren’t at his or my place.  Beyond games, though, he was and is an awesome man, and despite hardly seeing or hearing from him these days, I’d have to say he’s the finest friend I’ve had outside of Grace.

My junior year also got me into classes I wanted to take – I was back in the drama program, which ours was a unique one.  Usually drama programs are where a bunch of outcasts and eclectic kids end up getting into (which I would consider myself both :p ), but ours had football players, ASMC officers, some of the most popular people on campus and the outcasts/eclectics.  And we all got along for the most part.  I became friends with a wide array of people thanks to our diverse program, and our instructor I would rank highly among the most influential teachers I’ve had.  I served as a stage manager for all of the shows, with small bit parts in a couple.  I also got into Multimedia, where I had the chance to use these newfangled computer do-dads I’ve heard so much about.  I learned Photoshop, video editing, audio editing and other skills, which I occasionally utilize here for the blog.  I adored this class, despite bumping into my newest and most contested rival, my former friend W. (I’ll save using his name, since he’s not a pleasant memory).  W. had always taken to belittling me for some reason, and 2000 was the year I parted ways with my old comrades (since Chad was gone and Chris and Trent were hanging with new people before I wised up), which apparently incited him to up the ante.  He would go out of his way to say some sort of negative remark to me (including shouting across campus), and made any class I ended up with him unpleasant.  I don’t know what crawled up his ass to become so vindictive – I imagine he had a shitty life outside of school and needed a scapegoat.  I made the right choice to jump ship, though, as they all got into pot and drunk shenanigans not too far afterward.  We had some good times, no doubt – Goldeneye battles and whatnot, but overall I was and am relieved that I no longer have to deal with them.

I also had fun with girls.  Well, not really.  I unintentionally developed a slight stalker phase with one crush, which I quickly realized and crushed as I talked to her about it (and apologized).  It was my first attempt to ask a girl out, and although she and I got along well, she wasn’t interested in taking it further…which was fine in the end.  She and I remained solid friends through high school.  I look at any past rejection as a good thing, as it got me into dating and marrying Grace down the road, and I wouldn’t trade her for nothing. :)  The last play introduced me to a new crush, who I would spend the whole summer dreaming about.  Heh.  God, revisiting my crushes is such a goofy self-analysis.  I can see how immature and idiotic I was.  Ah, youth.  I’ll save my senior memories for 2001.

In 2000 I believe that I had four personal projects running.  One is tied to So…this webcomic/Snow Dragon, as I’ve mentioned before.  It’s where Blade and Claire/Janelle/Mike/Lindsay/Drew’s powers in Shi Kurai are from.  The others I’ll be a little more open about, as two of them are obsolete now and one may become a webcomic on here in due time.  One of the aborted projects revolved around Bobby, the cat, based on my own cat of the same name.  I loved Bobby – he was an affectionate and lovely cat.  So I merged him into a game design that he would collect alphabet scrolls to gain magical powers.  Sort of Metroid-ish.  It never really got too far – I think I progressed more on compiling what Foo Fighter songs I wanted to use than any real design aspects. :p  The second was taking Jamiroquai’s Space Cowboy persona into a game premise, which also didn’t get too far.  That’s where Didjital came from, and somehow I combined the two universes for Shi Kurai.  So those two ideas are long gone, now.  The last is titled Black Blood, and it’s where Kryst originates.  It’s a fantasy-tinged title, but I’m not 100% sure where I’m taking it yet.  But I am considering a webcomic for it, so I guess look forward to that!

Shortlist:

Ogre Battle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber (N64, Atlus/Quest)

Easily the best RPG for the N64, Ogre Battle 64 features a robust character development system, a fascinating plot and some intense strategical battling.  Well worth looking into if you love strat-based RPG’s.

Skies of Arcadia (DC, Sega)

Sega’s sky-faring opus, with a dynamic and likable cast, an incredible world to poke around in, a solid set of battle engines and is simply an experience that I can not recommend enough.

Street Fighter Alpha 3 (DC, Capcom)

Capcom’s final chapter in the Alpha subbranch is the finest one, with its richest cast, glorious animation and a myriad of gameplay options and styles to tinker around in.  The RPG-esque World Tour mode and Dramatic Battle adds immensely to the pleasure.

Grandia II (DC, UBI Soft/Gamearts)

Grandia II is a visual tour de force for the Dreamcast, and has one of the most gripping battle systems in any RPG I’ve played.  Add in a solid soundtrack and a decent cast of adventurers and I’m happy as hell.

In my opinion, the best game of 2000 was…

Skies of Arcadia (DC, Sega)

You wouldn’t have expected anything else, right? :p

I’ve gushed so much about this game on the site that it’s hard to think of something new to say about it.  I think that my Dreamcast Anniversary reflections does that insanely well.  I’ve also covered my adoration of the game’s excellent art direction (led by Itsuki Hoshi), soundtrack (done by Yutaka Minobe and Takayuki Maeda), characters (I’ve covered Vyse, and plan to get Aika and Fina’s spotlights done this year) and have drawn more fan art and wallpapers (12) for it than any other game.  But, I’ll try very hard to come up with something original here.

Skies of Arcadia is not a perfect game.  It has its flaws – overly common random battles, Vyse is a little clunky in the overworld (and climbs up ladders way too slowly), its plot relies on the Magical McGuffin school of progression a little much, the default battle engine can drag on for too long, and I’m sure other problems other gamers have experienced that aren’t leaping to mind.  For me, though, I was able to look past all of that and see something that was absolutely amazing.  A game that, despite its design issues, completely wowed me every step of the way.

Part of that enrapture has been Vyse, Aika and Fina’s phenomenal characterization.  Vyse is such an optimistic guy with his heart set on big things, and is quite able to keep himself composed and focused in even the toughest circumstances.  This trait is one to admire.  Aika’s feisty behavior and zeal for being a pirate is a nice counterbalance to Fina’s more subdued and shy personality, and both build upon that foundation and become extraordinary sidekicks to Vyse (who also grows beautifully) throughout the game’s story.  And while Skies does run with the magic crystal collection trope, it does a whole bunch more with its plot than merely idling around those objects.  It tackles cultural issues, as the Valuans attempt to dominate the other realms and eradicate what they consider inferior.  It reveals that other cultures are something to preserve, and that assimilation is not always the greatest answer.  As Vyse and Co. try to protect these locales from Valua’s military, and as they explore and chat with residents in those places, my mind was blown at how well Sega captured such cultural diversity and its importance so well in this game.  My revisit brought those memories flooding back, even more poignantly now that I’m going to be a cultural anthropologist myself.

I’ve delved into Skies’ handling of exploration before, but it’s the flipside to the cultural aspects that caught my attention most.  I LOVE exploration in games.  Linear games can be fun, no doubt, but I appreciate and relish being able to poke around and discover areas and secrets.  Many of my favorite games have such an aspect to them, and that component was fully realized thanks to Skies.  With a multitude of discoveries to track down, a huge world to sail in, hidden sidequests and battles for the persistent (which the Gamecube port enhances with its extra boss battles), and the eventual acquiring of a base you can build to your liking…as long as you can gather all of the various crewmates needed to construct it! – there’s nothing quite like sailing the blue skies in …Skies.  Honestly.  It left such an impact that I used “Sailing the Blue Skies since (year here)” at my old site for years.

But the most telling piece of evidence is how MUCH I’ve written or created or admired about this game.  I can ramble on and on about it if I can, and have devoted massive amounts of my time into playing and discussing and sharing it.  And really, it’s been THE game of games for me – the one that I can quickly point to as my favorite without a lot of thought.  I don’t know what else I can do to showcase my passion for Skies than merely pointing out the Skies of Arcadia tag for LVLs. and asking you to look at the records of the site’s coverage of it (the Imagery and my Favorite Games won’t pop up there, but I know how to link to those!) to see for yourself how much I love this game.

Some personal anecdotes…

I own the DC original and GC port, although my DC copy has issues on the second disc (and I’m too scared to try to dip it into hot water to remove the probable film that is screwing with it).  Won’t sell either!  I also have the soundtrack, but it’s a bootleg copy.  If I had the money, I would import the collector’s stuff from Japan and the real soundtrack – I’m that serious.

I’d kill for some Skies of Arcadia figures.  Well, that’s strong – I’d really love to have some, let’s put it that way.

Is it wrong I’m more interested in Vyse, Aika and Fina’s cameos in Valkyria Chronicles than anything else?

I have a Nintendo Power poster of Skies on the wall in my house.  Grace doesn’t like it that much, but it’s the biggest piece of Skies adoration I own, and we’ve luckily reached a compromise about me keeping it up.

Banjo-Tooie

Breath of Fire IV

Capcom vs. SNK: Millennium Fight 2000

Cannon Spike

Crystalis

Dead or Alive 2

Deus Ex

Grandia II

Jet Set Radio

Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask

Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes

Metal Slug 3

Perfect Dark

Power Stone 2

Resident Evil Code: Veronica

Skies of Arcadia

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2

Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion

Vagrant Story

The World Is Not Enough (video game)

Back to 1999Forward to 2001

Song Highlights – Deus Ex, Contra, Blaster Master, Grandia II

Deus Ex – Hong Kong (PC, Eidos/Ion Storm, Alexander Brandon, Dan Gardopée, Michiel van den Bos, Reeves Gabrels)

The music in Deus Ex seems to get better and better the deeper you plunge into its storyline, and thus far, this medley of songs from the Hong Kong part of the game is my favorite.  Fitting to both the locale and to the futuristic motif it’s set, this is a perfect accompaniment for JC Denton’s missions here.

Contra – Level 3 (Waterfall, NES, Konami, Hidenori Maezawa, Kyouhei Sada, KONAMI KuKeiHa Club)

Another fantastic score to Contra’s tense action, the Waterfall theme is one of my absolutes in gaming music fandom.  It’s such a well-composed song, and I find it to be one of the best from the NES period.

Blaster Master – Level 2 (Castle, NES, Sunsoft, Naoki Kodaka)

The last playthrough I had of Blaster Master was years ago, but I distinctly remember getting to the castle level for the first time and being wowed by this song.  It’s one of the shorter pieces from the soundtrack, but that doesn’t matter when it’s so good!

Grandia II – Mirumu (DC/PS2, Game ARTs, Noriyuki Iwadare)

This may have been the first game soundtrack I ever owned, so I have a lot of sentiment towards Grandia II’s score.  This particular piece is well-suited for the snowy mountains by the village of Mirumu, and is a fantastic piece from a great game.

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