Archive for December, 2010

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Game Music is Dead (Koji Hayama)

December 7, 2010

When I started this project last October, I knew what was going to be the final song I would add. Fittingly enough, it is “Game Music is Dead” by none other than game music bad-boy Koji Hayama. Why? Because with a title like that…why not!? While the song isn’t game music, it’s taken from an album that includes game music arranges in it, Game Music is Dead ~ The Successive Kings. There’s a lot of Cho Aniki in there as well as some TwinBee arranges. And for some reason, “Game Music is Dead” is on the album twice… I suppose to prove the point! Now normally, when you buy two things, you can give one to your friend. Unfortunately, you can’t give your friend the second song because it’s on the same CD… So it’s like a Twix bar. Two for me, none for you. Then again, like a Twix bar, the album was affordable for a time. Back when GameMusic.com was an actual store and not an ad portal (GameMusic is dead!), you could buy this album in clearance for about $10. Now the gamemusic apocalypse (vgmpocalypse?) has come and game music is dead. Action, Shooting, Item, Simulation… It’s all gone, and we are left only to rave. Long live game music!

Game Music is Dead ~ The Successive Kings – “Game Music is Dead” (Koji Hayama)

And there you have it! This is the end of the project. Thanks for reading! Look forward to checking out some album reviews in what might be known as “VGM Weekly”. But we’ll see.

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Play the Credits Music Loud: A Project at its End

December 7, 2010

Thank you for reading Video Game Music Daily! I started this blog on October 20, 2009 and have posted and discussed one song per day until today, December 7, 2010. Though you might remember today for other things, there really is no significance to ending it today – I simply happened to run out of stuff I wanted to talk about today! (Well ok, I DID run into a rock mix of 1942 a couple years back, but I haven’t been able to find it on my hard drive! However, there is another version on Dwelling of Duels played on kazoos…). Since I have talked about most of the music I am familiar with, in order for me to talk about new music in detail, I realized I would have to listen to a whole new soundtrack each day – which is not something I have the time for (and it’s not like it’s my job). This and I realized that the blogs have been taking up about one hour of my time to write – that’s even if I got home from a trip at 3 AM, I still would spend some time writing about a song. If you think about it, that’s 1/24 of an entire year, spent on just one thing!

Anyway, I started this project as ‘post one song a day for one year’ and it extended a little beyond that initial scope when I realized there was a little bit more I wanted to discuss. The idea was to both keep myself busy on a project I could sustain and share the love of game music to hopefully introduce more people to vgm and expand the variety of what fans already listen to. Of course, my own tastes sort of limited what is on this blog, as the big keywords ‘KONAMI’, ‘CASTLEVANIA,’ and ‘YASUNORI MITSUDA’ attest! So this is by no means an exhaustive look at game music, though there is quite a lot on here! I suppose this means these are mostly my favorite songs or ones that stood out for me over the past year.

I also tried to expand the project a little through special features such as:

The project has changed a bit over the years, initially starting with the idea of posting JUST one song… Read the rest of this entry ?

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Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – “Windmill Hut” and “Lost Woods” (Koji Kondo)

December 6, 2010

What’s this? Two songs in one? Well, it IS almost the end here, and I realized I’d forgotten to talk about two of my favorite Zelda tracks, “Windmill Hut” and “Lost Woods”. I was always a fan of “Windmill Hut” due to its stormy nature – tossed ’round and ’round by wind and weather, and the sadness of never knowing where you’ll end up. “Lost Woods” likewise has the mystery of the winding forest path as well as the nostalgia of returning to the place of your childhood, a point that was by no means lost when the track was arranged for Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Thankfully, there’s a piece that combines them both, “Eye of the Storm” by Rozovian.

Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – “Eye of the Storm” (Rozovian)

“Eye of the Storm” is a new age electronica piece with rich instrumentation through bells and percussion combining both forest and rain, water dripping through the canopy, a pure stream trickling through the glade. And I must say I was instantly taken by the atmospheric sounds of the thunderstorm in the intro. Rozovian chose to arrange the two tracks together because he saw a melodic similarity between the two, though “Windmill Hut” is more clearly audible than “Lost Woods”, which seems sunk more into background support.

“Windmill Hut” has a couple notable arranges, the first by SAiNT 420 (Jeff Little) called “SoS” (“Song of Storms”), a guitar arrange whose West Coast funk I’m partial to. The other is a more hardcore rock cover by Ashane, picked off VGMix 2.0, which is great for the angst of the storm.

Of course my favorite version of “Lost Woods” is from Twilight Princess, known there as “Sacred Grove“. What really sets this piece off is the use of harp for a truly enchanting walk through the forest. The song draws particularly heavily on player nostalgia, as it is most directly tied to Ocarina of Time, the favorite Zelda game to many, and so when the song plays, it brings back so many memories of past games in the series to longtime fans. I know this version isn’t exactly highest quality and has the forest sfx in the background, but all the same, its calmness and the centrality of the notes draws on the one-ness of nature befitting of a sacred grove. The spirit of Saria of the Kokiri Woods must still reside in this sacred place…

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Super Mario World – “Ending” (Koji Kondo)

December 5, 2010

Super Mario World was the first Mario game I ever beat, and the first Mario game I really played. It still holds a special place for me as being my favorite of the 2D Marios for this reason – difficulty was a little higher than my skill level, so it was quite a challenge, there were tons of secrets (including a whole new world!), and a massive tropical archipelago full of dinosaurs. The music was also pretty good, if a little cheesy (and maybe a bit too long). So here you have it, as a nice farewell to VGM Daily, the Super Mario World “Ending” music.

Super Mario World – “Ending” (Koji Kondo)

The “Ending” theme is divided into four movements, which means there’s a LOT of repetition here! There’s the first joyful exit from Bowser’s castle where Mario leads Princess Peach (riding Yoshi) and being trailed by the seven eggs rescued from the other castles (that funky dance you see is not normal – you have to hold Up, L, R, X, and Y when you beat Bowser). What begins is a tour of all the worlds (pretty standard stuff) that ends with the arrival at Yoshi’s house (1:36). Here, the eggs all hatch and Mario and the gang have a wonderful celebration! (You can’t see it though because you have to watch the character credits). Next follows a review of all the enemies in the game along with their names (unfortunately, the little ninja guys are missing!). This part is divided into two sections, the first with a cheerful section played on strings and tuba (1:58) and then again with organ and strings (3:11) to illustrate the castle enemies and bosses. So in all, you’ll get to hear that main theme played about a dozen times!

However, what I really like about this theme is not just the nostalgia and familiarity, but the instruments and composition. The instruments are actually a little abstract – it’s hard to pinpoint what they are supposed to be. Is that a pipe or an ocarina? And then there’s a mix of guitar, bass, and violin, as well as accordion and tuba! It’s some sort of mad Italian polka! It’s just the kind of thing you’d expect really from a game like this.

Super Mario World – “Peaceful Kinoko-World” (Soichi Noriki)

If you find this version overlong, check out Soichi Noriki‘s arrange, “Peaceful Kinoko-World”, from the official soundtrack! Read the rest of this entry ?

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Valkyrie Profile – “Behave Irrationally” (arr. Corran)

December 4, 2010

So yeah, I’ve been getting these out a little late recently, so for the past few days it’s been a little less Daily than usual… Anyway, today’s is an arrange from Valkyrie Profile, another one of the Viking games that I’ve started but haven’t quite beaten. Valkyrie Profile takes the premise that Rangarok is coming and the Valkyries have to be very busy these days to collect enough souls and train them for the final battle (why they decide to do this at the last minute is anyone’s guess…). The game doesn’t take place in medieval Scandinavia, but rather spills over into what looks like 16th Century England, complete with anime warriors and some trips to Japan. Still, that doesn’t keep it from having an interesting mix of Norse mythology. Anyway, the game is interrupted frequently by long story sequences where you get to hear the background of the guy whose soul you’re supposed to collect. The song that plays most commonly in these is “Behave Irrationally”, which fits with whatever brought this poor guy to his death. There’s an excellent arrange of this by Corran from VGMix 2.0 that’s worth a listen.

Valkyrie Profile – “Behave Irrationally” (arr. Corran)

The arrival of the Valkyrie is a mystical moment, one that requires tenderness and reflection as it is a crossing between two worlds and an evaluation of the soul. Corran uses echoing pounds from the drum, like rolling waves crashing against the shores of the other world. With brass and flutes, there is a sense here of human failings, of decisions made at the heat of emotion, the song a silent reflection and promise of redemption. The original used primarily a music-box of chimes and flutes. A wonderful expansion on another fine soundtrack by Motoi Sakuraba (Star Ocean).

“Behave Irrationally” had some other interesting arranges. One of these is a Viking Metal piece by CHIPP Damage and Fray from OCR, “The Shining Blue Armor Descends“. While I usually don’t listen to death metal (I get nothing out of the growls), the song is presented here as an epic ballad that if not using poetry of the skalds, has a presentation of battle and glory that most Vikings would have been proud of.

Another thing that springs to mind… If all the good warriors went to Valhallah, then why is there such a big problem about fighting the Ragnarok? Odin’s got the best players on his team. Maybe Loki gives everyone steroids in Hel to get them super-pissed off… Still, if you’ve got Beowulf, Toshiro Mifune, and Chuck Norris on your team, is there really any contest?

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Dr. Mario – “Fever” (Hirokazu Tanaka)

December 3, 2010

One of the games I remember playing as a kid was Tetris & Dr. Mario for the SNES. Dr. Mario is a puzzle game where you have to line up different-colored pills so they wipe out a virus of the same color. If the bottle fills up with pills, you’ve lost. It also had this really funny commercial. In the SNES version, there was a multiplayer option that was a lot of fun at the time, but I kind of lost interest in the game after I selected the hardest level and played through it for about an hour or two until I cleared it, saw the ending screen, and then was prompted to play another level. Then I realized it was pointless! Still, the game had some pretty trippy tunes that were so funny to hear, we couldn’t play some of them, or we’d mess up because we were laughing so hard! So yes, another classic from Hip Tanaka.

Dr. Mario (SNES version) – “Fever” (Hirokazu “Hip” Tanaka)

“Fever” is a pretty cheeky tune – actually, all of them are, thanks to the jeering faces of the little viruses. The designers must have been inspired by Space Invaders, as you can’t help but enjoy squashing them with the pills. The SNES version uses an organ as well as provides chirps and insults from the viruses. At 0:29 there are a few bars from a famous classical tune that I have trouble identifying… You will also want to check out the classic Hip Tanaka bass line at 0:50, definitely a little reminiscent of Balloon Fight (especially with the bubbling pops).

I’d also like to point out that Dr. Mario was a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Melee, and so his theme saw a remix. However, I like the arrange of “Chill”  by Masaaki Iwasaki (Mother 3, Heavy Barrel) from Super Smash Bros. Brawl more, with its combination of original chip music and grunge guitars. Awesome high hat past the one-minute mark, too.

Finally, there is this incredibly awesome music video by Brentalfloss about Dr. Mario. Warning – it’s a tad NSFW! Read the rest of this entry ?

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Totaka’s Song (Kazumi Totaka)

December 2, 2010

Here’s an interesting piece of music that not many people know about: “Totaka’s Song”, so-called because it appears in every single (or almost every single…) game that Kazumi Totaka helped compose. “Totaka’s Song” is his signature, basically a means of signing the work as an artist signing a painting and having a little joke in the process. The piece is 19 notes long and is a short, playful ramble that seems embarrassed to have been discovered and so sheepishly pauses at the end. Here it is from Mario Paint, one of its most famous appearances:

The song first appeared in X for the Game Boy (1992, Japan-only). It was also played by Mr. Totaka’s ‘avatar’ in Animal Crossing, the guitar-playing dog K.K. Nindb has a collection of several versions of “Totaka’s Song”, and more are on YouTube. PhilBond has a three-part video series on the song that sparked interest across the Internet, but admittedly the pacing is a little slow… Most instances of “Totaka’s Song” have been discovered, but a few are missing such as Wii Sports (though there is this funky version of the title theme played backwards). I’ve also yet to see any kind of arranges (anyone up to a heavy metal joke version for Dwelling of Duels?).

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