Some people, namely Prota believe that I have a certain fascination with objects of the box variety. It’s an ongoing joke cause I was stuck playing the Wizard in a multiplayer playthrough of Trine.
For a brief moment, I thought Darksiders 2 was playing with me, the boxes apparently coming to life. Thankfully I was wrong, but it kinda scared the shit out of me when I spent the whole clip focused on the shaking boxes.
How the fuck did I miss this? A reboot of Rise of the Triad? Dog mode and weird floating platforms making a return? Graphic killing of Nazi soldiers as they beg for their lives using modern visuals? Consider me pumped!
Originally intended to be an expansion to Id’s hit, Wolfenstein 3-D, RotT was designed for that particular engine. When Id dropped that plan, possibly because Doom would be looming around the corner, it was instead developed as a whole new game running on a more modern engine.
That’s good, because Wolfenstein 3-D’s engine wasn’t really suited for outdoor environments which is a big part of this game’s atmosphere. What resulted is a pretty gory game for its time where people would regularly blow up. Because height was no longer an issue like it would have been as an expansion, we see a whole bunch of trampolines that take advantage of taller rooms.
I remember once in composition class, my professor mentioned something about Rock of Ages while telling one of his old stories (the guy’s at least in his 70’s), tipping me off that there might be some other, probably more popular work that shares the same name. Sure enough, a Google search is more likely to direct you to a musical or movie. I never was into theatre, so don’t be too surprised when I say that it was the game I first heard about before the production.
While titles are shared, thematic content is not. Our game does not revolve around a timeless musical genre (there isn’t even rock in the soundtrack). Instead, the title is to be taken more literally; it’s about one man and his giant boulder traveling through different time periods and doing battle with various historical figures throughout Europe.
Any of you guys remember those old JibJab political cartoons which while slightly funny, started a trend of manipulating still pictures of people so that they appear to be talking or performing various actions? Imagine that treatment with authentic historical art styles and you have just about every cutscene in the game. While in play, units, buildings and the overall scenery on the playing field are three dimensional models. On the other hand, all human characters including the ones controlling the boulders from behind castle walls and the giant human hand that places the boulder back on track if it falls off are presented as paper cutouts.
I figured I would share a sample of the wonderful voice acting that can be found in Gabriel Knight 2 — Enjoy!
P.S. Don’t expect a review for this one anytime soon, I’m progressing slow as shit and have other games I’m playing at the same time, but at least now it’s easy to share captured images and audio of the games I am playing currently, so expect me to post up things I find funny every now and then.
Aside from the RPG there is one genre of games that have always managed to stimulate my imagination better than any other. The point and click adventure has been a regular part of my diet since King’s Quest 7 which introduced me to the genre soon after it first came out.
Usually, puzzles that stump me for hours are the intimidating factor that keeps me from jumping between adventure games regularly, but some more user-friendly games such as Telltale’s fantastic Tales of Monkey Island and Sam & Max alleviated my fears and I felt that I could survive just about any adventure game without seeking help from hints or guides.
Gabriel Knight : Sins of The Fathers beat my pride into the ground.
Here’s the transcript for the second Rapid Composition exercise where I again work with an 8-bit style, restricting myself to just two square channels and one for triangle. The notation is probably sloppy as all hell, but remember that this was written in 90 minutes. Also, I encourage anybody interested in composition to join in : the only things I want to have provided for the article are a link to the music, preferably something I can embed like Soundcloud and some visible notation, whether it’s done on traditional score, box notation or whatever.
Thursday July 12, 2012
Hello again and welcome to the second week of Rapid Composition where I am suddenly given a theme carefully selected and then given 90 minutes to come up with a piece of music to accompany that idea!
Last week we did some underground exploration, who knows what we have in store for this week, but at the turn of the hour, my fate shall be revealed!
The following is a transcript of a weekly event I plan on beginning for The Wired Fish. Forgive the shitty formatting for now, we’ll find a better chat platform for next week. Score and Music at the bottom!
Friday July 6, 2012
Hello readers at The Wired Fish, tonight is the first iteration of a weekly practice I want to start. Influenced by a tradition in the Doom community, I used to participate in speedmapping events where we would design levels for the game under a 60 – 100 minute time limit. A theme would be presented to all participants from which they would build a level from the ground up, and at the end of the session, all participants would have their creations merged into a single set of levels.
Of course, my levels always sucked dick, but the practice was fun. I don’t compose Doom levels anymore, but I am trained in the art of music composition. My training is on a classical level mostly, and there is rarely any excuse to compose music spontaneously, so I decided to begin this event. Right now I’m the only participant, but I hope in time some people might join in so that we might have a collection of short pieces of music every week.
This article came out a little over a week ago (probably two by the time of publication), and I both loved and hated it so much, I knew I wanted to use it as the inspiration for some of my musical discussion.
The author tells a familiar tale of how video game music just isn’t what it used to be and takes a stab at explaining one reason why : limitation. The underlying principle, one that I somewhat agree with is that some of the greatest game music came out of composers doing the best that they could do with the sound resources they had available; in the early days of gaming, this amount was very little.
While I agree with the principle, it’s no excuse for the direction game music is taking. Gregory admits that there are exceptions to the rule especially in the realm of Japanese gaming, but why is that? The soundtrack for Super Mario Galaxy 2 uses an orchestra as big as many other modern games for instance, and yet its music falls far from the “disposable” category.
I started thinking a lot about the state of game music, what happened to change the nature of such music, and what we can do as composers and/or listeners to keep video game music relevant even today.
And thus I decided to go on a journey exploring different generations of game music. Who knows, maybe there’s something to learn from all of this.
A few months ago, one of the news sites I visit regularly posted an article up about a dating sim starring disabled girls. It sounded cool for the novelty, so I loaded up the trailer.
It was looking alright until the part where they show the girl with half her body burnt give off that smile. If that’s not a tug at the heart, I dunno what is, so I put the game on my radar. Soon enough it was finally released with the asking price of zero dollars — I couldn’t go wrong! I gave it a hasty download.
I was going to join this party a little later on down the road, but something interesting happened while filming our upcoming podcast for The Wired Fish. While discussing our biggest disappointments of 2011 (spoiler), Hachi called out Super Mario 3D land as his disappointment. Not that it was a bad game, but rather that it felt like it was missing something. From what I experienced playing the demo at Comic Con, I loved it, and in the back of my mind was hoping that his claims were full of shit, and that maybe he doesn’t know how to handle the 3DS nub properly, so I could laughingly say “You’re playing the game wrong”. That same night, I decided to debunk his claim one level at a time…
I was debating whether to call this a current game review or a “Late to the Party” Review, where I plan to discuss older games that fall beyond a certain cutoff point, but enough changes were made to this version to call it an entirely new release.
When I was a kid, I remember getting a Sega CD when it launched — the piece of shit hardly worked when mounted to my Genesis, and even though I wanted to get into Sonic CD, faulty hardware and my lack of mechanical expertise (I was like 5 when it came out) meant that there was only one or two occasions where the system actually worked for me. I tried a second time when that Sonic collection for the Gamecube came out, but I couldn’t get into it. Now that all of my good games this holiday season are behind wrapping paper, I needed something short and sweet to play before Christmas flooded me with games, and look at what came out — a Re-Release of Sonic CD with some new bells and whistles.
Finally, I beat the game, muliple times : once for the normal gameplay experience, once with Tails who is a new addition to the game, then I went through every stage and boss through Time Attack mode, and finally a proper run through the game for the good ending, I chose to do it by altering the past instead of gathering those damn time stones. Continue reading →
A few weeks ago, I remember mentioning how upon getting The Legend of Zelda : Ocarina of Time 3D I’ve been playing quite a few adventure games of a similar style. Beyond Good & Evil, was incredibly fun despite me not reviewing it (I’m lazy sometimes). I talked on one of our video-podcasts about how Ocarina overshadowed adventure games for years to come including Beyond Good & Evil‘s initial release and Star Fox Adventures, both games that I would not come to appreciate until the past year or so.
Thankfully, it is much easier setting the 3DS aside because I already played the hell out of that game. To be honest there has not been much interesting on the new releases side. Darksiders had been still in plastic since Christmas and the second I heard that Liam O’Brien was voicing the main character, it was just a matter of finding a window to play in. The guy has a habit of voicing a lot of my favorite characters, so a game where I can hear him grunt and yell for hours upon hours had me pumped up from the very beginning.
One of those few times I can really say : That's some pretty sweet box art. From the splattered paint highlights to the almost copper tone of War riding atop Ruin, there is an overall intensity that I don't see too often.
Now, with a little over 23 hours logged on my last save final, I can say that I finished Darksiders on Apocalyptic (hard) mode and boy was it…. easy.
Yeah, I haven’t done one of these in a while… spending a good portion of my day trying to write even a couple of bars of decent music and studying techniques/history via textbooks and audiobooks doesn’t exactly have me wanting to tackle even more music at the end of the day. I’ll be honest, I haven’t had much motivation.
I’ve also had my hands full with Darksiders which should be finished for review in a couple of days, actually, the only reason I’m not playing right now is because the game froze on me in the middle of a dungeon that I’m not particularly fond of. Being too lazy to hook up my SNES, Super Gameboy and digging through a bunch of shit for the cartridge, I just settled for my modified wii, classic controller and a digital copy of the game.
Note : The Wired Fish does not support piracy. Own your games before emulating them.
I am going to have to come out clean and say I fucking suck at Super Mario Land. Mario’s momentum seems to break too easily and the controls always feel just a little stiff. I remember never being able to make it past world 3 as a kid and when I tried it out last week, I met the same fate. Tonight I am proud to say that not only have I finished world 3, but I also managed to beat Super Mario Land, and on one credit! Admittedly it was a little too close for comfort when I dropped from 18 to 2 lives at one point, but a few lucky bonus games was all I needed. But we’re not here to celebrate my victory, we’re here to enjoy some music.
While a lot of the later tracks invoke a more exotic feel, this leaves me with no such sentiment. It’s clear that it wasn’t even the intention which would explain why it plays in the very first level : while it lacks that feel of a faraway land, it’s damn catchy, and the song is one that you’ll be hard pressed to forget once you sing along with a couple of loops. Continue reading →
For those of you who checked out my Infamous 2 review, at the end I promised to cover Duke Nukem Forever, but as it turns out, the game was so awful yet so fascinating that I decided to attempt a defense for the game instead. A full length review would be redundant, and as it just so happens, I was saved by the bell (my Shadows of the Damned package).
The love child of a trio well known to the gaming community : Akira Yamaoka, former composer of the Silent Hill series, Shinji Mikami who is responsible for a certain Resident Evil series (notably RE4 which he directed as well as Godhand) and Suda51 who brought such games as No More Heroes and Killer 7 (the latter of which had Mikami as the executive producer).
It makes sense, the game has a heavy Killer 7 vibe going on. Not with the politically complex themes, oh no, the foreshadowing is way too apparent, and the game revels more in being over the top and obscene than trying to make the player piece the story together bit by bit. The combat feels very reminiscent of fending off various Heaven’s Smile types for those of you familiar with them.
“Game Play”, a performing arts festival, centered around video games is set to hit the NYC area for the majority of July (7th – 31st). Typically when I hear about cool events like these, they’re usually over toward the west coast.
Luckily, most of us at The Wired Fish are Bronx dwellers — one cramped subway ride from The Brick, a theater in Brooklyn where the festivities take place.