February 8, 2013

Our favorite game music of 2012 – Volume 2

I'll return one day to antagonize YOU, Billy and Jimmy!

BGM Mode is back with volume 2 of the best game music of 2012. Today, we’ve got Paul’s picks. (more…)

February 6, 2013

Our favorite game music of 2012 – Volume 1

This would make more sense if there were some airplanes.

It may already be February, but 2012 lives on thanks to my iPod filled with last year’s best game soundtracks. Put on some headphones and listen to a quick sampling of ten of my favorites below. (more…)

February 10, 2012

BGM Mode: The Soul Still Burns

Soulcalibur

With Soulcalibur V now unleashed upon the fighting game community, it’s time for BGM Mode to take a look back at the series’s epic soundtracks. And that’s not “epic” in the Internet forum sense–the Soul series has always done things on a grand scale, whether it’s the flashy action, the panoramic stage vistas, or even the ultra corny announcer. It follows that the music would be appropriately grandiose, usually sticking to a rich, orchestral sound but occasionally throwing in the odd electric guitar just because.

Let’s start off with Soulcalibur II‘s opening movie for good measure:

“Under the Star of Destiny” – Junichi Nakatsuru

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hn9PTh_HA7s

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December 24, 2011

BGM Mode: A Very Square-Enix Christmas

A Very Final Fantasy Christmas

Did you know Square Enix actually put out a Christmas album last year? It’s mostly (actually, entirely) the Square side of S-E (no holiday Dragon Quest arrangements in sight), but it’s still worth a listen just to experience some unusual and very jingly versions of a few classic Square tunes. Here are some of the more notable ones in case you’re tired of playing the same old Christmas Eve background music.

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November 18, 2011

BGM Mode: Coming Up Aces

Project Aces

It was inevitable that I’d eventually have to feature Namco’s Ace Combat here in BGM Mode, since Ace Combat 5‘s soundtrack was directly responsible for piqing my interest in the series. Actually, Soulcalibur–another Namco game–also deserves some credit; after countless hours spent playing SC2 and 3 and enjoying the catchy and bombastic soundtracks, I started looking for more work from the series’ main composers, Junichi Nakatsuru and Keiki Kobayashi. As it turned out, they both worked together on the Ace Combat series, along with Tetsukazu Nakanishi. Somehow I settled on Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War, picked up the soundtrack, and–after being totally blown away–finally played the game.

Eventually I made my way through each of the PlayStation 2 installments, and while their quality went up and down, the soundtracks were consistently excellent. Here are a few of the most memorable tracks, starting with Ace Combat 04, from all the way back in 2001, and wrapping up with Ace Combat: Assault Horizon, which just came out last month.

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October 21, 2011

BGM Mode: In the year 20XX

Mega Man

With this week’s Lore in a Minute retelling the history of Mega Man, I’ve had the Blue Bomber on my mind lately. So, what better time to showcase some music from one of the biggest game series–in fact, the biggest–of all time? I’ve already extolled the virtues of Magnet Man’s theme in VGH Episode 8, so I’ll spare you this time. (Although really, you should go listen to it anyway.) But, I’ll still kick things off with some Mega Man III.

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September 16, 2011

BGM Mode: Round One… FIGHT!

muh huh huh

Between fruitlessly trying to teach myself how to play Street Fighter III and following the Soulcalibur V and Street Fighter X Tekken news coming out of TGS, I’ve had fighting games on the brain lately. And, somewhat inspired by Capcom’s surprise announcement that they’ll be releasing past Street Fighter soundtracks to use in Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike Online, I thought it would be a good time to serve up a selection of my favorite fighting game themes. Following Paul’s lead from our last installment, let’s kick it off with one of the great classics:

“Ryu Stage” – Yoko Shimomura (Street Fighter II)

https://youtube.com/devicesupport

At the height of their popularity in the 90s, fighting game characters would each have their own unique stage, and along with it, their own theme song that represented their background and personality. If you’re an arcade veteran, hearing any of those themes is sure to drum up powerful emotions on both ends of the spectrum—whether it’s because you spent hours perfecting moves with your first “main,” or because you had to hear the song endlessly since it belonged to that one rival that always shut you down. No matter which way you think of him, Street Fighter’s Ryu has one of the most memorable themes of any fighter, from the adrenaline-pumping bassline to the synth melody that’s always sounded strangely wistful to me—perfect for Ryu’s melodramatic, neverending search for new battles.

“São Paulo” – Hideki Okugawa/Yuki Iwai (Street Fighter III: 2nd Impact)

https://youtube.com/devicesupport

All the arcades I’ve been to seemed to only have either Street Fighter III: New Generation or 3rd Strike, so I’ve never actually played 2nd Impact, the middle game in the trilogy. But, that hasn’t stopped me from logging some serious hours with the soundtrack, which originally got my attention because it was so weird—a blend of jazz, drum and bass, and even some Brazilian samba. It’s definitely not your typical fighting game music. This track comes from Sean’s stage in Brazil, and a variation of it plays during the bonus stage when he helps you practice parrying.

“Stormy Saxophone 2” – SNK Sound Team (The King of Fighters ’96)

The King of Fighters '96 – Arashi no Saxophone #2 (Iori Yagami Team)

SNK was dropping jazz influence into its King of Fighters soundtracks long before Street Fighter III got the idea. This is probably the most memorable song to me out of the series’s nearly 20-year run. It’s Iori’s theme, and I always like to imagine it’s actually him playing the saxophone. It seems like kind of an antiheroic thing to do on his days off.

“Vanity Paradise” – Takayuki Iwai (Vampire Savior)

Vampire Savior/Darkstalkers 3 Music: Vanity Paradise (Hsien-Ko/Lei-Lei Stage)

This one’s just silly, but I still love it. The third entry in the Darkstalkers/Vampire series went full-on dance/electronica for most of its soundtrack, so it’s just natural that Hsien-ko, the Chinese ghost, would have this Asianized dance track playing in her idyllic garden stage.


“Keep Yourself Alive II” – Daisuke Ishiwatari (Guilty Gear XX)

https://youtube.com/devicesupport

Gratuitous Queen reference! From the inimitable Daisuke Ishiwatari, who basically made Guilty Gear all by himself.

“Wings of Despair” – Keiki Kobayashi (Soulcalibur III)

Wings of Despair- Soul Calibur III OST

“Twilight Dwellers” – Keiki Kobayashi (Soulcalibur IV)

SCIV Twilight Dwellers 14

It’s always fun to hear a different take on a favorite song—it might be a cover that casts it in a completely different light, or it could just do enough things differently to give you new appreciation of the original. In this case, Keiki Kobayashi took one of Soulcalibur III‘s songs—a solid track, although admittedly not one of my favorites at the time—and reworked it for the sequel. The result comes off as more majestic and less frantic, with a deliberate, dramatic opening that gives way to an anthemic rendition of the original. It’s an excellent accompaniment to the stage itself, which has you dueling on a raft traveling down a castle’s moonlit moat.

“M. Bison Stage” – Yuzo Koshiro (Street Fighter Tribute Album)

https://youtube.com/devicesupport

And speaking of alternate versions, I’ll wrap up with one of the best. This is Balrog’s (M. Bison in Japan) stage, remixed by the legendary Yuzo Koshiro for this album made to celebrate Street Fighter’s 15 anniversary. To me, Yuzo Koshiro is synonymous with ActRaiser‘s orchestral soundtrack, so it always puts a huge grin on my face knowing that he’s capable of something like this.

What’s your song of choice to have playing as you land that sneaky surprise attack at the start of the round? Let us know in the comments!

September 2, 2011

BGM Mode: Overworld Themes

Zelda~

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of RPGs. Right now I’ve been playing a metric ass ton of Xenoblade Chronicles and the absolutely gorgeous soundtrack got me thinking of some of my favourite Overworld themes from games of yesteryear. Near the end of Episode #20 of VGH Randy asked me what an Overworld theme was, and of course I didn’t answer him because I’m a jerk! But seriously, an Overworld theme is just the music plays while your adventurers (usually in an rpg) traverse the world (map)!

(Note for Randy, the song that plays in DQ9 when you’re running around between cities would fit this criteria)

Xenoblade doesn’t really have a traditional rpg “Overworld” per se but the music is simply incredible and inspired this weeks BGM Mode. So it may or may not get two slots this week. Plus it doesn’t hurt that the game currently has my soul in its grasp.

But lets kick things off with what I consider to be the greatest/quintessential Overworld theme of all time, and it doesn’t even come from a traditional RPG!

The Legend of Zelda – Overworld Theme – Koji Kondo

You may have heard this song before. Over 20 years later and Koji Kondo’s masterpiece still resonates with gamers. Nothing more needs to be said.

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August 19, 2011

BGM Mode: Blizzard Tunes

Stay a while and listen!

Welcome to the first installment of VGH’s new music themed blog posts!  Here at VGH we love game music, that was made pretty obvious way way back in VGH #8: Blips and Bloops. So we’re going to continue our unabashed adoration for all things Bloopy (and some Blippy stuff too) on a regular basis now. In this first installment of BGM Mode, two of our hosts will be showcasing a few of their favourite music from various Blizzard  games. Blizzard always seems to have such incredible production values for their games and I think it is safe to say that their sound tracks are among the best in the industry in terms of quality from start to finish.


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May 15, 2011

Even More Blips and Bloops: Paul’s Selections – Part 1

My apologies for the delay in getting this blog post up! I recently had a bunch computer related issues last week and was unable to work on anything. As I mentioned in VGH #8, game music is my favourite genre. This will be part one of my game music blog posts. Today I want to showcase some of my favourite game intro music and a few of my favourite composers. Let us get on with it shall we?!

 

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May 4, 2011

Even More Blips and Bloops: D.J.’s Selection

Akira Yamaoka performs

There’s just too much incredible music out there to fit into one show! In an attempt to cover even a fraction more of it, we’ve each collected a few more songs we think are worth listening to. It was still nearly impossible for me to narrow it down so there’s quite a bit on here, but I hope you’ll take a few minutes to listen to a few of the songs here. Let’s start with a few songs from my all-time favorite game composers, in no particular order:

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April 4, 2011

Featured musician: Magnus “SoulEye” Pålsson

PPPPPPowerup!

If you’ve had a chance to listen to Episode 6, you may have noticed there’s something different about it. That’s right: New intro music! I’m proud to announce that Video Game Hangover now opens and closes with the addictive chiptunes of Magnus “SoulEye” Pålsson, who you might recognize as the composer for Terry Cavanagh’s perilous VVVVVV!

If you haven’t played VVVVVV aren’t familiar with his work, his songs bring to mind the infectious melodies and low-fi simplicity of classic games like Mega Man, Legacy of the Wizard, and M.U.L.E. They perfectly suited a retro-styled game like VVVVVV, and to call the soundtrack “background music” would be unfair—SoulEye’s tracks immersed me within VVVVVV’s world as much as the gameplay itself. Beyond game music, he’s composed a number of catchy, original pieces, including a recent track for the Songs for the Cure charity album, Remedy.

The tracks we’re featuring on the show include one of his original compositions, “Krakbound,” and “Popular potpourri,” a VVVVVV medley. If you want to hear more, check out the digital music section of souleye.se for lots of original work, including the full version of Krakbound. You can also buy copies of PPPPPP (the VVVVVV soundtrack) and PPPPPPowerup! (a collection of remixed VVVVVV songs) in MP3, lossless FLAC, or even on CD. Whether you’ve played VVVVVV or not, definitely visit his site and then let him know how much his music rocks on Twitter!

If you make awesome videogame-inspired music and would like to be featured in future episodes of Video Game Hangover, get in touch with us at contact@vghangover.com.

PPPPPPowerup! cover image by Roger Svanlund.