In 1983, there was a crash. Not a stock market crash or a car crash involving someone noteworthy. But a crash in the videogame industry. People got tired of playing the figurative whack-a-mole of “Find The Good Game”, with the all too common chance of picking up a bad game, and simply gave up. Videogames to the common people became a fad, and like many fads, it came and went. However this event was mostly situated in North America, and more specifically within the console market. In Japan, videogames were just as healthy as ever. Arcades and consoles saw use and playtime everyday. Nintendo had released the Famicom home console in Japan. But North America would prove to be a different beast to conquer. However once that beast was tamed, it became a formidable ally. On this Retro Weekend, we reminisce about the Nintendo Entertainment System.
System: Nintendo DS/Publisher: Destineer/Developer: Spellbound Entertainment/Players: 1/Release Date:11/2/2011
In the 80s, there was a new beginning in the videogame industry. The NES was selling like hotcakes, and Super Mario Bros. went on to become a household name. This was only happening on the NES however. On the more computer oriented side of things, most only went as far as Point-and-Click adventure games and RPGs. There weren’t many, if at all, platform games like Super Mario Bros. (or at least ones that scrolled smoothly). So Time Warp saw this as a chance to grab a market that had yet to be tapped into in the computer game space. They created The Great Giana Sisters. The name of the game, the gameplay, and the look of it smacked of Mario Bros. Even the ad campaign for the game took a shot at the Bros. But the fun was over when Nintendo shot back with a cease and desist. And so the Giana Sisters series was left to wallow in obscurity… until now. Nintendo is a different company now and are more open to other games replicating their style. In comes Spellbound who were willing to make a new Giana Sisters game, and this time not make it a straight up clone. Is the game different enough from the game that inspired it, or is it just another uninspired clone? Today I breakdown Giana Sisters DS.
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.
Part 1 : Simple NES/Gameboy Music
During an investor meeting, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata mentioned that a new Super Mario games was in development, this time being in 2D like the DS and Wii New Super Mario Bros. He also touched upon the possibility of Super Mario being a good place to add DLC stages. Obviously pricing hasn’t been talked about yet, nor how many stages would be available per pop. Hopefully these’ll be new stages and not stuff already on the cart. Iwata hopes to release the game in the next fiscal year.
Here’s hoping for some asshole-level difficult stages. One of the primary reasons why I liked NSMBWii, Mario Galaxy 2, and Donkey Kong Country Returns. Bring it on Nintendo!
It’s time to take a break from the videos and look at the other attractions that populated Comic Con. No, it wasn’t all the free schwag we got (though we’ll be making an article about that later). It’s the cosplayers, and boy were there many. With the Jacob Javits Center packed to the brim with comic fans, animation and anime fans, and gamers (and nary a jock in sight), you were bound to bump into a cosplayer or two (or, say, seven). As many of you know, cosplay is serious business, and these people were ready to display the best of what they had. We have over 70 pictures, and you can view them all after the break! Continue reading