Shameless Gaming Month, July 2012 – update

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In an amazing turn of events, I finished off Explodemon this week as part of Shameless Gaming Month ๐Ÿ˜€

While the last boss was cheap and mean, it was a delightful end to an otherwise excellent retro-inspired platformer. The razor-sharp 1080p goodness, unbelievable chiptune-inspired soundtrack and variety of homages to Capcom, Konami and Treasure platformers (as well as a bit of Yoshi’s Island in there too!) made it worth the collective headbutt on the final encounter.

I’ve talked about the game previously, but dug up a couple of interesting bits on the game others might find interesting – there’s an amazing blow-by-blow account of the game’s development at one bit beyond, and an excellent interview and review at PlayStationLifeStyle.net. Oh, and there’s also the official website too.

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Chucking a beachie in Whyalla while listening to chiptunes

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There’s nothing more country and masculine than chucking a beachie in Whyalla. Especially when listening to chiptunes. Specifically the PSG chiptunes from Wonderboy 3 on the Master System.

I can’t say I’ve done a lot of that in the past, though when I was a kid I remember hooking up my parent’s trusty woodgrain TV to the audio-input of my mini hifi to grab the audio off my consoles, which were hooked up to the TV via RF. Sure the quality was all sorts of awful and a bit hit and miss if the game didn’t have a soundtest, but hey – chiptunes on the run ๐Ÿ™‚ These tapes would then be used for killing time in the car for family holidays. My younger brother Tank also appreciated these ๐Ÿ˜€

As the generations moved on, redbook audio meant it was a little easier to get your video game music on the fly, and of course we’re now in a world where we have direct access to imported OSTs from Japan and my phone doubles as a media player.

So, it was a wonderful mix of old and new last weekend – listening to Wonderboy 3 via an iPhone in a car whilst doing laps of the local haunts. All for no reason.

Thanks to Tank for the local tour ๐Ÿ™‚

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Scott Pilgrim vs The World: The Game is genius, GOTY candidate

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So, on Friday nights I check PSN to see what new stuff has come out, and low and behold, after much drooling over screenshots and trailers, Scott Pilgrim vs The World: The Game is out. I downloaded the demo, Wifey and I fired through the first level, and I bought the full game immediately.

There is so much about this game that is just so right – beautiful spritework (thanks Paul Robertson, you’re my hero!!), amazing chiptune audio, fantastic old school gameplay with a few twists, local co-op, and all in 1080p, razor-sharp low-res style 2D gold. Then there’s all the fan service to the greats of years gone by, and probably heaps of other goodies I haven’t uncovered since we’ve only played through the first level…

I need to spend more time enjoying this game. You should as well. if you have a PS3, download it. If you have an XB360, hang in there, it shouldn’t be too far away. For those unawares, enjoy a trailer:

I really should do a special on Paul Robertson as well, the man is a certified superchamp.

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Unofficial piano nocturne – themes from Streets of Rage or Street Fighter on the piano

A while ago I grabbed the piece of awesome that is Sega Piano Nocturne – as the world’s worst piano player despite loving the instrument dearly, I absolutely loved hearing a lot of my favourite Sega tracks rolled into the piano and bring out some really interesting melodies from some great tunes. I think there should be more piano renditions of classic chiptunes and game themes, I absolute love a good arranged version of a classic song from a game. Because I’m a tragic nerd ๐Ÿ˜€

Anywho, after checking out some footage of Yuzo Koshiro doing his thing in a Tokyo night club, I did the usual click-click-click-click YouTube thing you normally do to see what other Streets of Rage stuff was on there, and I stumbled across the following – it’s from the third stage in Streets of Rage 2:

Awesome, huh? The same user (Yuzoboy) has an upload playing the ending theme to Streets of Rage 2 which was really cool… but again, YouTube/Web2.0 strikes again, and I found the following interpretation of the ending theme from Streets of Rage 2:

This one’s from mymorningjackets, and is an amazing, bittersweet piece of awesome, lead by piano with a bit of classical guitar thrown in for good measure. There are also a couple of other great interpretations in his list, so might have to come back to him in a later post after I’ve had a chance to check out his blog.

So, with all things “street” on my mind, I started seeing results for Street Fighter 2 gear on the piano! Here are a handful of videos I found that I thought were worth a look into!

First up we have Ken’s theme from SF2 – this one’s a pretty “standard” interpretation of the song without too much embellishment, but you know what? It’s still played beautifully and with more skill than I can ever dream of having when I sit down at my piano ๐Ÿ˜€ Plus, given how awesome Ken is (yes, I’m a Ken scrub!), it’s all good ๐Ÿ™‚

The day my mate McAdam and I accidentally unlocked the vocal theme of Sakura’s song (in Japanese at that!) on the PAL version of Super Puzzle Fighter 2 Turbo on the Saturn was a glorious day, because she has such an amazing theme song (I got goosebumps playing through Sakura’s story in SF4 with her theme recurring throughout!), and this one’s a great version of her theme. Nothing’s embellished, but there’s nothing wrong with that. Remember, Sakura is awesome. Very important fact.

If Ryu’s theme doesn’t go down in the history of awesome of chiptunage, there’s something wrong with the world. If need be we can get rid of Sephiroth’s theme, as that’s starting to annoy me, but that’s because I’m an irrational fan of Phantasy Star and have yet to play through a Final Fantasy game based purely on principle. The exception to this is Final Fantasy III on the DS, which I really enjoyed (thanks Hamez!), and Final Fantasy IX always looked fun, as did FFVI. Anywho, enough of that – Rastapulse is responsible for the above, and I’ll be referencing him again too, as his interpretation of Ryu’s theme is brilliant. There’s a deliberate slowing of the tempo and some great phrasing in there – very expressive, and the little intro/outro he’s added is cool!

Fun fact – I used the melody of Cammy’s theme in an early megamix I made when I was first learning how to program stuff in a MIDI-sequencer. It was actually completely rubbish, but good fun at the time. MIDI sequencing programs confuse me now, I was quite happy with Evolution MIDI back in the day, it was choice. Now, if I was able to program something akin to the above on the aforementioned program, I would have been much more proud of myself. Akin to the Ryu theme that Rastapulse was responsible for above, this one’s slowed the tempo and emphasised the melody really nicely – again, great phrasing and execution. I haven’t checked out the rest of the material in his YouTube channel yet, so might have to get onto that later.

Last one – Guile’s theme, and I left this until last as it has elements from each of the styles I’ve linked to, with some of it emphasising 1:1 phrasing compared to the original with lotsa piano-passion, and then there are other moments where the melody’s been played around with a bit of artistic license and takes on the languishing character of the themes Rastapulse did above with just the right amount of melodrama to make things interesting.

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Raving to Yuzo Koshiro in a Tokyo club

A friend posted a link to this in a discussion we were having via a message board online, and since I’d never heard of this being possible, thought it deserves some linkage:

For those not in the know, Yuzo Koshiro is an absolute genius when it comes to getting the Mega Drive’s Yamaha YM2612 chip to do some amazing stuff (though to be honest, Koshiro had a habit of making the entire chipset do some amazing stuff). The music for Streets of Rage 2 is probably my favourite of his work, though big ups should go to the amazing work he did creating a symphony out of the Mega Drive for Story of Thor, and for some amazing early work on Revenge of Shinobi.

I always thought back when I was younger that the quality of the audio in Streets of Rage 2 demanded more attention. Thanks to the magic of YouTube, it’s nice to see it was a success ๐Ÿ˜€

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