Game Music Showcase: Chistmas Music

In Game Music Showcase, I take a look at a few songs from a particular category, like battle themes or title screen songs. The songs are listed in no particular order, except for the last one which is my personal favorite of the bunch.  I love video game music more than any other genre and with this feature, along with game music appreciation, I hope to help you understand why. 

So why bother with having two music features? Game Music Appreciation is more in depth while Game Music Showcase is more of a microcosm of one category of video game songs. 

Merry Christmas and happy holidays, everyone. I'm in a festive mood so here's a special article about Christmas music featured in video games. Unfortunately, they're all songs from The Nutcracker, but they still count, dammit!

Game Music Showcase: Last Boss Music

In Top 5 Game Songs, I list my 5 favorite game songs in a particular category, like Top 5 Battle Themes, or Top 5 Title Screen Songs. I love video game music and find that it doesn't get the respect it deserves, so this is my way of spreading awareness of how great it is. (NOTE 3-7-12: feature change lol)

In Game Music Showcase, I take a look at a few songs from a particular category, like battle themes or title screen songs. The songs are listed in no particular order, except for the last one which is my personal favorite of the bunch.  I love video game music more than any other genre and with this feature, along with game music appreciation, I hope to help you understand why. 

So why bother with having two music features? Game Music Appreciation is more in depth while Game Music Showcase is more of a microcosm of one category of video game songs.

It seems like a so many of the games I love have great boss battle music, and even greater last boss battle music. So great that it makes me wonder sometimes why they would save such great songs for the end where so few will hear them. A reward for perseverance I guess. Anyway, this list is only of last boss themes; specifically the last enemy you fight before the main story is complete. Also of note is that many last bosses have more than one form and a different song for each form so some of these aren't technically the last song you hear before the ending but it still counts as the last boss.

My Top 5 Games of 2001: #4 Max Payne (PC)

Developed: Remedy
Published: Gathering, 3D Realms
Genre: Third-Person Shooter
Platform: PC (reviewed), Mac, PS2, Xbox, Xbox Live

Max Payne has the distinction of being one of the only games that I upgraded my computer to play. That should give you a bit of an indication of how excited I was coming into this game. I remember pouring over every preview for it that I could find. I was just blown away by how great it looked. Of course by today's standards it looks like shit but back then it was the best looking game that I had played up to that point. Max Payne follows the events of a single night in which the titular character, a police detective turned DEA agent, starts out undercover in a mafia family but ends up chasing after the person who kills his partner early into the game and eventually finds a conspiracy that leads to the top of a giant corporation. There's spoilers ahead so be warned.

My Top 5 Games of 2001: #5 Advance Wars (GBA)

Developed: Intelligent Systems
Published: Nintendo
Genre: Turn Based Strategy
Platform: GBA

Advance Wars was probably the first game I played on the Game Boy Advance and I've probably logged more hours into it than any other game on the platform. It tells the tale of a small country known as Orange Star and its struggle against its oppressive neighbor, Blue Moon. It's a fairly lighthearted tale for a game about war that has a fun, colorful cast and simple but challenging gameplay that will have you hooked until the end.

My Game of the Year 2008: Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 (PS2)

Developed: Atlus
Published: Atlus
Genre: JRPG
Platform: PS2

Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 is a game that I love so much that I beat it again with the best ending just for this article. I clocked in at about 90 hours. Yes. I love this game that much. So if you've been wondering why this has taken me so long, there's your reason. Persona 4 is a JRPG about a murder mystery that a group of Japanese high school kids solve in their free time by going into an alternate reality that exists inside TVs where they fight monsters called shadows with monsters of their own called Personas. I like weird games. Really though it's actually one of my favorite game stories ever with perhaps my favorite cast of characters from any work of fiction. This is gonna be another loooong post that spoils the entire game so read on at your own risk. Just the notes that I took down while playing ended up at over 26,000 words long, so yeah. Get ready.

Game Music Appreciation: Final Fantasy V - Clash on the Big Bridge

In game music appreciation, I take a look at a song from a game that I probably wont be writing about in any other fashion. I always feature one or two of my favorite songs from each game in my top 5 articles, but not every game gets an article. To put it bluntly: this is where I put good songs from games that I either dislike or am apathetic about.

Final Fantasy V was actually the third Final Fantasy game that I beat and God damn did I hate the game by the end. And this is coming from someone who enjoyed Final Fantasy VIII. Yeah. I hated FFV that much. I may have to do a Good Games that I Hate article on this one some time actually. One thing that I didn't hate however, was the music; particularly the song I'm featuring in this article: Clash on the Big Bridge. This is the theme of recurring boss Gilgamesh who, unlike in most Final Fantasies, is kind of a joke character in FFV. His theme is freaking incredible though. It's arguably the best battle theme in the whole series in fact. I'm featuring two versions here. The first is the original version from the game itself, composed by Nobuo Uematsu of course. The second is one of the most amazing violin players I've ever seen doing his version of the song. He goes by the nickname TAM and no, I'm not taking credit for discovering this video. Destructoid featured it a while back. Anyway, here you go, the first video is courtesy of the great PeyserConley, who has uploaded just about every game soundtrack ever, and the second is courtesy of TAM's YouTube channel, violinpiano2:

Game Music Showcase: Dumb Songs That I Love

Woohoo, another filler feature. In Top 5 Game Songs Game Music Showcase, I'll list 5 a few songs in a particular category like top 5 battle themes or top 5 title screen songs. (EDIT 3-7-12: lol feature change) I love video game music; it's probably my favorite thing to listen to while I write. Hell, the only music genres outside of video games that I really enjoy are metal and classic rock, so I don't have as much to chose from there. I kinda like how they have it in Japan. In music store over there you can find an entire section devoted to video game OSTs. I can't even begin to imagine that over here in the US. Hell, iTunes doesn't even have a section for it. They just lump them in with soundtracks from other stuff like movies and TV shows.

In this installment I'm gonna talk about dumb video game songs that I love for one reason or another. Some of them are just infamous for how terrible they are while others are just so hilariously out of place that I can't help but love them.

Good Games That I Hate: Tales of Symphonia (GCN)

From the opposite end of the spectrum of my last article, I bring you Good Games That I Hate. I almost called it Good Games That I Dislike because hate's maybe too strong a word in some cases but it just sounds better. The title of this feature is fairly self explanatory as with it's sister feature but I'll clarify it a bit. Unlike Bad Games That I Love, this feature will be more about games that the community loves than review scores, though both will be a factor.

Tales of Symphonia is a game that I swear to God I have never seen a negative word about. The absolute adoration that I have witnessed for this game is almost nearly unequaled by anything that doesn't have Mario or Zelda in the title so of course I had to play it for myself. I beat this whole game, and let me tell you, I don't get it. At all. To me, it was a mostly forgettable RPG with a few fun characters and a plot that was way too close to Final Fantasy V to be called anything original but it was at least engaging enough to keep me interested to the end. God, I'm gonna get it for this one. I haven't had a single comment yet but this may be my first article to get them if only for cries of "TROLL POST" to be declared.

Bad Games That I Love: Home Alone (SNES)

Time for another new feature: Bad Games That I Love. Pretty self explanatory but I guess I'll elaborate one thing. By "bad games" I mean games that either have mostly low review scores and/or I have witnessed a decent number of people expressing their hate for said game.

I first played Home Alone pretty soon after it came out. I saw the film in theaters so I was already a fan before I played it. The game is a fairly simple platformer. In each stage you run around a section of Kevin's house, collect valuables so the crooks can't get them, and put the valuables in the basement safe.

Honorable Mentions 1991: The Simpsons (Arcade)

Developed: Konami
Published: Konami
Genre: Beat 'em up
Platform: Arcade(reviewed), PC, C64

Since I need more time for my next GOTY article, I think it's time I break out another filler feature: Honorable Mentions. In this feature I'll look at games from years that I've already covered in previous top 5s that didn't quite make the cut despite still being very good. Today we'll look at Konami's 1991 beat 'em up based on The Simpsons, simply titled The Simpsons. I remember it being one of the earliest arcade games I ever played and being a fan of the show, I loved it. Playing it nowadays, I think it still holds up well and I noticed a lot of goofy references that I probably missed as a kid, like the rabbit from Life in Hell as one of the enemies.

Game Music Appreciation: Demon's Souls intro song

In this installment of game music appreciation I bring you a song from a game that I HATED:
Demon's Souls.

After all the rave reviews that Demon's Souls got, and the fact that it was developed by From Software, a company whose games I usually really enjoy, I knew I had to have it. So I picked it up and started playing. And I started dying. And dying, and dying, and dying, and dying some more. Good freaking lord. This game may be the second most difficult game I've ever played, the first being Trauma Center for DS. That one will never be topped. Except maybe by I Wanna Be the Guy. Call me any number of noob insults that you want but I personally don't enjoy getting my ass handed to my by any game unless I really, really enjoy the gameplay(Dead Space 2 is a good example). Demon's Souls isn't a bad game by just about any measure. I think it just requires a certain mind set that I just don't have.

Anyway, as for the song, it's from the game's intro and I think it's simply titled Demon's Souls. It's a truly intimidating piece that sets a fantastic tone for the game.

Here it is, courtesy of YouTube user IvanIMG:

My Top 5 Games of 2008: #2 Dead Space (360)

Developed: EA Redwood Shores
Published: Electronic Arts
Genre: Third Person Action Horror
Platform: 360(reviewed), PS3, PC

I was a huge fan of Resident Evil 4 and after playing it for immeasurable hours, I craved a similar experience. A couple of years after RE4's release, EA announced Dead Space, an action horror game with a very similar gameplay style to RE4. I was excited but skeptical at first because at the time EA was mostly known for it's many licensed game series, so I didn't know what to expect from an original title from them. Despite my concerns, Dead Space was released to near universal acclaim and I soon picked it up. I was instantly hooked, completing the game over and over. It became the first 360 game that I got every achievement in, a distinction only 3 other games have so far. I even made up my own challenges, like beating the game with only the ripper, my least favorite weapon in the game, completing the game without dying and other crazy shit that I don't usually bother with.

My Top 5 Games of 2008: #3 Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Wii)

Developed: Nintendo, Sora, Game Arts, HAL Laboratory, Monolith Soft, Paon
Published: Nintendo
Genre: Party Fighting Game
Platform: Wii

I still remember my excitement when the first Super Smash Bros was announced for the Nintendo 64. A party style fighting game featuring my favorite Nintendo characters? Gimme! Gimmegimmegimme! Ahem...As you may know from my previous articles, I'm a pretty big Nintendo fan, so the concept of Mario vs Link just blew my young mind. It's sequel, Super Smash Bros Melee was what sold me on the GameCube. I knew I had to have the console just for that one game, even if no other good games came out; I just had to play Smash Bros. The game in question today, Super Smash Bros Brawl, had the same effect, and was the biggest motivating factor in me buying a Wii. That's the kind of power SSB has on me. Announce a new game in the series on a platform I don't have and I'll buy it. Just for 1 game.

My Top 5 Games of 2008: #4 Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (PS3)

Developed: Kojima Productions
Published: Konami
Genre: Stealth/Third Person Action
Platform: PS3

Let me start this article by saying that I am a Metal Gear fanatic. I've played just about every game in the series and 2 of them are in my top 10 games of all time(I'll get to that some day). Although this isn't one of them it is still an amazing game and a fantastic end to the saga of series protagonist Solid Snake. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots chronicles his fight against Revolver Ocelot, a man possessed by Snake's dead brother Liquid. It boasts some of the best graphics in any game to date and a globe spanning plot with some incredible action set pieces. There are a few things that I don't like about it, though, but I'll get into that in the bulk of the article. This is gonna be another long snark fest like my Final Fantasy IV article and will contain spoilers for the whole Metal Gear series so be warned.

Silent Hill HD Collection is an Eldritch abomination

I am a HUGE fan of the Silent Hill series dating back to the first game. Hell, even just the demo of the first game before it came out may be the demo I played the most in my life. It's one of the only series that I own every game of on at least 1 platform. I consider Silent Hill 2 to have perhaps the greatest video game story of all time and it's easily in my top 5 games of ever. The only thing I don't love about the Silent Hill games is the combat. It's wretchedly awful in all of them. Also, Homecoming had a pretty dumb story but that's beside the point.

EDIT: meant to link to this for anyone not familiar with the term.

My Top 5 Games of 2008: #5 No More Heroes (Wii)

Developed: Grasshopper Manufacture
Published: Ubisoft
Genre: Third Person Action
Platform: Wii(reviewed), PS3

I was a huge fan of Grasshopper Manufacture's Killer7 so I came into No More Heroes expecting an absolutely amazing experience. While it didn't quite live up to my sky high expectations, it still wowed me in a lot of ways. It's a much more lighthearted, comedic game than the utterly abstract Killer7 so it disappointed me a bit in that department, but if you go into it without any expectations you'll find a hilarious take on modern brawlers.

My Game of the Year 1991: Super Mario World (SNES)

Developed: Nintendo EAD
Published: Nintendo
Genre: Platformer
Platform: SNES(reviewed), GBA, Wii Virtual Console

Super Mario World. The first game I ever played. This was one of the games of the year that I knew right off the bat(yes, I already have the full list.) As I said in my first post on this blog, I played this game steadily for years, even with many other games available to me. Even after beating it numerous times, and discovering its many secrets, it never got boring to me. For me, it has a lasting fun factor and charm that has been rarely matched to this day and it's a game that I still go back to occasionally.

My Top 5 Games of 1991: #2 Final Fantasy IV (SNES)

Developed: SquareSoft
Published: SquareSoft
Genre: JRPG
Platform: SNES(reviewed), PS1, GBA, DS, Wii Virtual Console, PSP

I didn't play Final Fantasy IV, or Final Fantasy II as it was known at the time, until long after it's initial release in 1991. However, when I finally did, it instantly became one of my favorite games and I realized why this Final Fantasy thing I've heard so much about was so damn popular. Final Fantasy IV is a Japanese role-playing game where you take control of dark knight Cecil on his quest for redemption after he realizes the evil of his king and the dictator who controls him. It is a dark tale with a surprisingly mature tone for the time. A word of warning: this post is going to be a long one and will contain SPOILERS so if you have been planning to play the game, do it now! You wont regret it. (NOTE: my story summary is purposefully tongue-in-cheek, so please try to have fun with it)

Game Music Appreciation: Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 - Soviet March

Since my next top 5 entry is gonna take a while, here's a new feature that I'll return to whenever I need extra time: Game Music Appreciation. I plan on featuring one song in every top five entry, but some games just don't make the cut and still have great music that deserves to be heard. In this feature I'll highlight a video game song that I love from a game that I probably won't end up writing a full article about.

This Installment:
Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 - Soviet March

I was a pretty big fan of Red Alert 2 but by the time RA3 came out I didn't like RTSs as much as I used to, so I waited until it was cheap on Steam. What a mistake that was. Red Alert 3 quickly became one of my favorite games in the C&C series and one thing that really stood out to me was the title screen, especially the song that plays: Soviet March. I have no idea what the lyrics are since the song is in Russian and for all I know it could be horrifically anti-American since the Red Alert series is about a war between the U.S. and Russia. Regardless of that fact, it's one of the most heroic songs I've ever heard and it sets a great tone for the game.

Anyway, here it is, courtesy of YouTube user QCMike01:

My Top 5 Games of 1991: #3 Super Castlevania IV (SNES)

Developed: Konami
Published: Konami
Genre: Action Platformer
Platform: SNES(reviewed), Wii Virtual Console

Another one of the earliest games I can recall playing, Super Castlevania IV is probably my favorite of the Castlevania series. It is a relentlessly difficult game with a few cheap enemy placement problems, which actually wouldn't be a problem at all if taking damage didn't knock you back. And it seems that more often that not a bottomless pit is waiting directly behind you. This was a source of much frustration in me as a child, yet I still consider the game to be one of my favorites.

My Top 5 Games of 1991: #4 U.N. Squadron (SNES)

Developed: Capcom
Published: Capcom
Genre: Side Scrolling Shoot 'em Up
Platform: SNES(reviewed), Arcade

Although I'm not completely certain, I'm fairly sure that  U.N. Squadron was the second game I ever played. My dad probably saw the cover and bought it for me(I was too young at the time to know which games to ask for) because of his love of Top Gun and it wouldn't surprise me if Capcom was partially inspired to make the game because of the film's popularity. I say partially because the game is actually based on a Japanese manga called Area 88, a fact I only learned in recent years. Regardless of it's origins, I loved the game and played it extensively for years.

My Top 5 Games of 1991: #5 ActRaiser (SNES)

Developed: Quintet  
Published: Enix
Genre: Strategy, Platformer, Isometric shooter
Platform: SNES(reviewed), Wii Virtual Console

It wasn't until years after it was released that I first played this gem of a launch title, but when I finally did, it left a mighty impression on me. I rented ActRaiser for the first time around 1994 or so and I became instantly hooked. I was only 7 years old or so at the time so a lot of the strategy concepts went right over my young head at first. However after some old fashioned trial and error dying a LOT, I soon began to grasp it. The platforming sections were different. I was in my element there. Still, the game was relentless. Deaths upon deaths followed and I never actually completed the game...So why is it one of my favorite games of 1991?

A Mission Statement

I've been a gamer since the age of 4 when I got my first game console, the Super Nintendo, for Christmas of 1991. Super Mario World, the pack-in game at the time, was my first game. Oh, the fun I had; the delightful merriment! For years, even after receiving many other SNES games, Mario was a constant staple of my SNES rotation. As I grew, though, I found other games, other consoles to love, but the SNES shaped who I am as a gamer today.