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

Sacrificed – Avatars and Gametime That I’ve Lost

I recently listened to the latest Game On Girl short, where Rhonda discusses the loss of her Mass Effect 3 save data and the death of her avatar Smokey Shepard by a PS3 malfunction. It left her dispirited, and she’s trying to figure out what exactly she’s going to do next in terms of a Mass Effect replay. While listening, I remembered I’ve had a few similar situations happen to me. Not all of them were original characters, but that doesn’t make the heartbreak of losing hours and hours of playtime any less powerful.

Skies of Arcadia (DC)
Reason I Couldn’t Go On: Disc Loading Errors on Disc 2
Time Lost: Approx. 50 hours

Yes, Skies of Arcadia, one of my favorite games of all time, pulled a nasty trick on me. Sega accidentally manufactured several of their Dreamcast SoA discs (the second one in particular) with a small film stuck to the bottom. At some point, the film would mess up the ability to read the disc correctly, making it impossible to proceed without some drastic measures. A solution I’ve heard is to dip the disc in boiling water for a second or so, then pull it out and see if you can peel off the film. If it comes off, and you didn’t cook the disc for too long, it ought to work perfectly. However, I didn’t really feel like doing that myself. I was afraid it wouldn’t work! Vyse, Aika, Fina and company are by no means mine, but I bonded with them so much that they felt like they were good friends that I had to separate from involuntarily. I left a game I was adoring aside for a year or two until the Gamecube director’s cut came out, which I did beat. Another 60 or so hours had to go into it, but luckily I found Skies to be absolutely worth it.

Skyrim (PS3)
Reason I Couldn’t Go On: Afraid of a PS3 Malfunction/Death
Approx. Hours Lost: 120 or so

Man, Skyrim was such a gutwrenching decision to sell. I regret it to this day! Alas, I just can’t justify keeping a game that can corrupt my console. The more Grace and I played Skyrim, the weirder its programming seemed to fall apart from the seams. The patches fixed some issues yet created whole new problems arguably worse than before. When we both gave up on our characters, we could maybe play the game for 5 to 10 minutes at a time before it froze or sputtered to the point of being unplayable. Now, both of us put in dozens upon dozens of hours into our individual quests. I had developed Karah anew from Morrowind, adapting her descendant into her own and discovering new ideas on how to further craft her Black Blood original. When I play an Elder Scrolls game, I take on a mentality of the character, and try to live as them. Make decisions they would make, not what I would make, and so on. Abandoning her was a horrible necessity to keep my PS3 safe. I am praying Bethesda fixes the issues and gets a GotY edition out soon, because I want to return to the world and continue taking Karah in new directions.

Final Fantasy (NES)
Reason I Couldn’t Go On: Cartridge Save Battery Formatted
Hours Lost: Probably 30

This was the very first experience of losing save data I had. I was about 14 or so when I finally got Final Fantasy for the NES, so I wanted to give the progenitor to the mighty franchise a playthrough. While the characters were templates and I couldn’t alter them at all, I gave their blank slates mild personalities so that I could relate to them a little better. I marched my way all the way through the game over a couple of weeks, knocking on Chaos’ door. I lost the fight, but I knew I could give him his comeuppance next time, so I shut off the NES and went off to do something else. The next time I turned the game on…the save was MIA. I don’t know if I failed to hold Reset when I shut it off or if the battery simply died, but my progress was erased either way. To be honest, I’ve never touched the game again. I sold it off out of frustration a few years back (yet I don’t remember doing that…). I may buy the game on the Virtual Console. At least that way I can back it up!

Red Dead Redemption (PS3)
Reason I Couldn’t Go On: Accidental Save Overwrite by Grace
Approx. Hours Lost: 60 or 70?

It happens to us all at some point, I have to imagine. It’s so easy to overlook what save slot you’re using, write over something you didn’t mean to, and then realize the mistake the next time you start it up. Well, when you’re in a relationship with someone who also likes games, that chance doubles. I’ve done it to Grace with Persona 4, she did it to me with Red Dead Redemption. Both of us had made considerable progress in our respective games. I don’t know how Grace feels about P4, since she did beat it from an earlier save of mine, but RDR still hurts me. I had done everything save beat one or two side quests and beat the game with John. I did all the ambient quests, I earned the majority of the game’s goodies, and I had the thrill of seeing the entire scope of the game’s wide country and knew it well. Alas, Grace mistakenly wrote over my file, and I was grounded back to square one. It’s a massive game, and to properly conquer it again would be such a commitment that I haven’t felt like trying again yet. John may not be my character, but he acted the way I wanted him to, and losing him stung. It still does.

Pool of Radiance (C64)
Reason I Couldn’t Go On: Accidental Formatting of a Key Gameplay Disc
Hours Lost: 30 or more

Pool of Radiance, along with The Bard’s Tale games, gave me my first taste of Western RPG philosophies, and I devoted a lot of time into throwing my pre-Black Blood designs into them. I learned a lot about gameplay design from them both! Unfortunately, I made a fatal error of judgment regarding Pool of Radiance. I had finally gotten a decent party together, and was making the most progress in the Slums that I had yet accomplished. The game had several discs of data to pull its wealth of gaming from, and often asked to switch them around to continue doing something. Well, somehow or another I pulled out a key disc without realizing that the disc drive was still reading it, and the disc became corrupted. Being ignorant of what formatting exactly meant, I attempted to do that when prompted, which made that disc useless. My questing had to cease in Pool of Radiance, and it was a big loss for me. I tried to get back into it through a PC compilation, but it sped up the combat so much that it wasn’t the same game for me. *sigh*

The Bard’s Tale (series)
Reason I Couldn’t Go On: The Commodore 64 died
Hours Lost: In total, 40+ Hours

Black Blood owes everything to The Bard’s Tale. It’s where my crazy idea of a fantasy-based universe came from. I really enjoyed the games, finding the latter two more intriguing. I spent a lot of time fiddling around with my party, recruiting a couple of high level allies from the prior owner’s character discs, and having them teach my rookies the ropes. I never got very far. Alas, my Commodore 64 kicked the bucket in 2005, not long after I moved to our current living establishment. I still have the discs as mementos, but I doubt I’ll ever revisit the worlds of Skara Brae and The Realm any time soon.

So, those are a sampling of some of my losses in gaming. Have any of you experienced anything as drastic as Rhonda or I? Feel free to comment!

Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed Announced; VYSE IS INCLUDED

IGN drops the word that Sega will announce a sequel to their Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing, subtitled Transformed. Skies of Arcadia hero Vyse will be making his presence felt on the race track alongside Golden Axe’s Gilius Thunderhead (and Dr. Eggman and AiAi). It’s amazing what one character can do to spike interest in something. :p I’ll keep you informed on how much Skies of Arcadia love the game will feature once I know more. More info on gameplay at the link.

Update – Press Release from Sega doubly confirms Vyse’s appearance:

SONIC & ALL-STARS RACING TRANSFORMED™ CHANGES THE RULES OF RACING

LONDON & SAN FRANCISCO – 30th April 2012 – SEGA® Europe and SEGA® of America Inc. are excited to announce Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed™, a thrilling new racing experience featuring Sonic the Hedgehog and a fantastic cast of SEGA All-Stars competing across land, air and water in vehicles that fully transform from cars, to planes to boats. Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed will speed on to the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system, PlayStation® Vita, Nintendo 3DS™ hand-held system and PC Digital Download late in 2012.

Following on from the huge success of Sonic & SEGA All-Star’s Racing™, the characters now have their own unique transforming vehicles designed to take advantage of the varying terrain. The line up on the Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed grid sees SEGA favourites – including Sonic the Hedgehog, Dr Eggman and AiAi – return to battle against newcomers that include Gilius Thunderhead of Golden Axe and Vyse of Skies of Arcadia. The brand new dynamic environments and tracks in Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed are once again inspired by SEGA’s illustrious gaming history. When the road falls away beneath you in Super Monkey Ball’s Temple Trouble track your car transforms into a boat and speeds down the rivers and rapids, whilst the Panzer Dragoon inspired track, Dragon Canyon, takes you into the sky in complete control of your plane, barrel rolling to out-manoeuvre rivals and obstacles before transforming back in to a car and racing to the finish line.

“Given the fantastic feedback we received from critics and consumers alike for the first game we really wanted to push the boundaries on our follow up game, Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed” commented David Corless, Global Sonic Brand Director. “Transforming vehicles allow us to do this – as well as drifting your car around the corners of a track, you get to fly your plane and pilot your boat against others all within one race. Add to this a grid full of star characters, retro IP, fun, fast race modes and cool tracks and racing fans of all ages are sure to love this one!”

Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed also sees the popular All-Star moves return with a brand new mechanic allowing your All-Star bar to power up faster if you race daringly and stylishly. An all new fair weapon system ensures that weapons fired at your vehicle can either be blocked or evaded once you have gained the skills to do so, making each race a unique and exhilarating experience whether it’s on water, in the air or on land. Old rivalries can be settled and new track records set in the enhanced online multiplayer mode, whilst the Grand Prix mode and competitive Battle Arenas will prove that Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is certainly set to change the rules of the race.

Nester’s RPG Reflections, Part IV: But… the Future Refused to Change

Am I being a little hard on JRPGs, or am I simply misunderstanding them? Or perhaps their struggles in recent years reflect the feelings I had about them 10 years ago. I discuss my misgivings with Japanese RPGs, as well as my fallout with them, in the next part of my reflections:

However, I couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that it was a game I had played before. Random battles, turn-based combat, a rigid, linear story. I figured that a lot of the foundations of RPGs were born out of necessity for the limitations of home consoles, but technology was pretty good by this time, and it seemed to me that that should have freed things up a bit. Yet, aside from the updated graphics and sound, it still felt like an SNES game. I had skipped an entire generation of RPGs; shouldn’t they have progressed a little more than this?

Apologies to Wildcat, since he may not like everything I have to say in this one.

Check out the full article at my blog, Lark’s Island: RPG Reflections, Part IV: But… the Future Refused to Change

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

Stripping Away Silence – A Thought on The Dreamcast vs. The Industry Today

When I remembered the Dreamcast anniversary and looked back on some of the pieces I’ve done in the past, I came to a startling revelation.  As I watched the unlockable anime opening for Tech Romancer, I realized that the Dreamcast could have been the last major console with a distinctly Japanese flair to it.  By that, I mean that the cultural shift we are experiencing now with Japanese games attempting to feel more Western and many gamers and developers expressing concern for the potential loss of the Japanese “look and feel” it’s had for decades may have shifted following the demise of the Dreamcast.

Some of the quirkiest, most truly Japanese games I know of were on the Dreamcast.  I mentioned Tech Romancer, which is a homage to a cavalcade of anime robots over the years, and it’s a prime example of what I mean.  Would Capcom dream of resurrecting this franchise in their current form?  I highly doubt it.  With a lot of money going into outside development of their established franchises to make them more Western (DmC, anyone?), there isn’t much room in the budget for an internally focused game so in tune with their culture.  Rival Schools, another heavily anime influenced game that plays around with school tropes set in a manga-like environment, hasn’t seen the light for years (in fact, the last one was Project Justice, Capcom’s last game for the …you guessed it – Dreamcast!) beyond the occasional cameo (Batsu in Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom was the most recent, and appropriate, considering Tatsunoko’s anime roots).  Power Stone, too, was very influenced by the look of anime, altering some familiar styles for the game’s rich cast.  And, again, Power Stone has disappeared from Capcom’s radar as of late.  Some of Capcom’s purest games made for Japanese gamers came out on this lovely system, and I just don’t know if we’re going to see that side of them anymore.

Sega themselves had a bevy of Japanese oriented games come out.  Jet Set Radio was a hugely stylized game that really let its culture influence it, with a cel-shaded look to mimic anime, a large selection of Japanese rock and techno to jam to, and relished its stereotypes to the extreme.  Skies of Arcadia tinkered with Japanese RPG concepts, turning a lot of them on the head but maintaining much of what made them truly Japanese.  The character designs were also heavily manga inspired.  Shenmue meticulously recreating a small piece of Yokosuka, Japan, and allowing players of all cultures to enter that world.  I could go on and on with how Sega emphasized their home country in their games for their last console.

My point is, could the pounding of “Western = Money” philosophy begun with the premature end of the Dreamcast?  I would say that it’s conceivable.  Smash hits from Japanese devs are shrinking in recent years – Demon’s Souls is one of the big surprises this current gen, for example.  I look at the rest of my PS3 library thus far and it’s full of Western-developed games – Portal 2, Red Dead Redemption, Dead Space, inFamous, and LittleBigPlanet.  I do have RE5: Gold Edition, which Capcom made internally, but that one too aimed for Western markets with its action flick story and dialogue.  Pac Man: Champion Edition is the only Japanese-made game not necessarily intended to target western tastes, and I find that a little sad.  Of course, I have much work to do in building up my PS3 library, and if I were to compare my Wii lineup to the PS3, I’d find many more Japanese-developed titles in a greater ratio to Western ones (A Boy & His Blob, Deadly Creatures, Dead Space Extraction, and Silent Hill: Shattered Memories are the western ones I have out of the 18 games I own).  But it’s something to ponder.

Tunage – Yutaka Minobe

Yutaka Minobe

Yutaka Minobe was a fairly involved composer in Sega’s stable from 2000 to 2005, until he left to join Marvelous subsidiary Delfi Sound Inc. Despite his departure, he has continued to lend a hand to several Sonic the Hedgehog games, from Sonic Adventure all the way up to Sonic Generations. While at Sega, he was half of the musical force behind the exceptional Skies of Arcadia/Eternal Arcadia soundtrack, and also was involved with NiGHTS: Journey into Dreams, Shinobi (PS2), Space Channel 5: Part 2, Panzer Dragoon Orta, Phantasy Star Online Episodes I & II, and Sega’s Astro Boy movie tie-in for the PS2. With Marvelous, he’s worked on Little King’s Story, Flingsmash, Yoshi’s Island DS and Innocent Life: A Futuristic Harvest Moon. He also lent his talents to Rule of Rose (whose company head is now at Marvelous), Onimusha: Blade Warriors, and Jigen Kairou. On top of all that, he has done a lot of sound effect creation and support for quite a few games.

As of this writing, Minobe continues to be an absentee from Wikipedia’s halls of information, which is a shame. Minobe is diversified, worked on several key games that are quite notable, and he does solid music that’s great to listen to. No worries, though, as LVLs. is happy to include him as part of Tunage.

Discography:

Sonic Generations (2011, PS3/PC/Xbox 360 versions only, Sega, Composition & Arrangement; Piano)

FlingSmash (2010, Wii, Nintendo/Artoon, Composition)

Jigen Kairou (2009, PSP, Sony, Composition from what I can tell)

Little King’s Story (2009, Wii, Marvelous/XSEED, Composition & Arrangement; Piano)

Sonic and the Black Knight (2009, Wii, Sega, Composition & Arrangement)

Sonic Unleashed (2008, Multi, Sega, Piano)

NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams (2007, Wii, Sega, Composition & Arrangement)

Innocent Life: A Futuristic Harvest Moon (2007, PS2/PSP, Marvelous/Natsume, Composition)

Yoshi’s Island DS (2006, DS, Nintendo/Artoon, Composition & Arrangement)

Rule of Rose (2006, PS2, Punchline/Sony/Atlus, Composition and Coordination)

Shadow the Hedgehog (2005, Multi, Sega, Composition & Arrangement)

Tian Xing: Swords of Destiny (2005, PS2, Marvelous/Artoon/Rising Star Games, Composition)

Sonic Heroes (2004, Multi, Sega, Composition & Arrangement)

Onimusha: Blade Warriors (2004, PS2, Capcom, Composer of “Den of Thieves”)

Sonic Pinball Party (2003, Game Boy Advance, Sega, Sound Creator, Composition)

Phantasy Star Online Episode I & II (2002/2003, Gamecube, Sega, Additional Support, Composition)

Sonic Adventure DX: Director’s Cut (2003, Wii, Sega, Sound Effects, Keyboards)

Space Channel 5: Part 2: Special Edition (2003, PS2, Sega, Keyboards)

Space Channel 5: Part 2 (2002, Dreamcast, Sega, Keyboards)

Panzer Dragoon Orta (2002, Xbox, Sega, Composition & Arrangement)

Shinobi (2002, PS2, Sega, Sound Creator, Composition)

Sonic Advance (2001, Game Boy Advance, Sega, Sound Creator, Composition)

Skies of Arcadia (2000, Dreamcast, Sega, Sound Effects, Composition and Arrangement with Takayuki Maeda)

Sonic Adventure (1998, Dreamcast, Sega, Sound effects, Keyboards)

Examples of his Work:

Skies of Arcadia (DC)

Kingdom of Ixa’taka

(more…)

TEi’s Top 7 Tearjerkers

This video is a week late…but it’s been a learning experience.

1// I can get about 15 minutes’ worth of video made in a week, including scripting, recording and editing.

2// If the video goes any longer than that, I’ll have to divide it into two parts in order to begin posting with any sort of consistency.

That said, please enjoy this one! I know the audio is pretty bad, but I had compression issues and Vimeo wasn’t too happy with me. The file is also far too big for YouTube. I’ll try to finagle it and make it sound better over the next few days, but for the time being, here you go. Have fun!

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)

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