It only took 25 years… Sonic Mania (Switch)

So I picked up Sonic Mania from the US eShop in the recent Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales. When you see a deal, gotta go fast, right?

I’m not the biggest Sonic fan by any means but I did grow up around (not exactly with) Sonic games for the Megadrive. Of those early Sonic games I spent the most time with my favourite, Sonic 2. 2017, 25 years after Sonic 2 was released, Sega finally released a worthy successor. I kid of course – it’s fun to argue which of the classic Megadrive games is the best but honestly they all have something to recommend them. Post-Megadrive though, there’s no doubt that the Sonic series went from system seller to mixed bag. After all that Sonic’s been through I’m amazed how well Sonic Mania turned out. To the point where I have no qualms saying this is the best Sonic game ever made, even after just a few short hours. Continue reading

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Resident Evil Revelations 2 (Switch): thoroughly sensible action horror

It’s no Last of Us, but Resident Evil Revelations 2 is very good at what it does. The story is cheesy as Resi should be, the atmosphere creepy but not unrelentingly so, the action engaging and the controls butter smooth. Overall Revelations 2 does a fine job of combining elements of the pre-Resident Evil 4 and post-Resident Evil 4 games. Continue reading

The piano of Prof. Sakamoto

I’m not big into videogame music covers. However I have to recommend an amazing piano arranger and performer of game music, a bizarrely attired gentleman known by the handle Prof. Sakamoto who published a bunch of videos in the late 2000s. Yes, he wears a cape and has consoles taped to his head while he plays. And yet his arrangements are amazing and the performances are incredibly polished. The most impressive thing to me is his timing. This guy can do restrained and subtle, to balls out rocking, but his timing is always dead-on. His medleys take him through a number of pieces from a game’s score, with a steady build to an emotional climax, with a case in point being this Mother (aka Earthbound) medley.

My favourite is for the least famous game he’s scored: For the Frog the Bell Tolls, originally composed by the awesome Kazumi Totaka. This was a Japan-only GameBoy game from the team who later made the Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. It’s got a great lighthearted score, but is held back by the the harsh limitations of of the Gameboy’s sound chip. In bringing this music to the piano Prof. Sakamoto adds a startling dose of emotional weight. The nine minute medley walks us through moody and ambient sections of score, making us wait for his arrangement of the game’s joyous field music.

This is the high point of the soundtrack but Prof Sakamoto keeps up the momentum for the remainder of the medley by transitioning seamlessly into the final boss music and eventually the danceworthy end credits music. Indulgent I know but this is just such a wonderful video and such an underappreciated soundtrack I had to spotlight it!

We need to talk about Japanese videogame music with English vocals

I recently checked out an arranged album of Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross music by the one and only Yasunori Mitsuda. Imagine my surprise to find that six of the ten tracks included on the album feature vocals, given that the original soundtracks – with one notable exception in Chrono Cross’s credits music – are entirely instrumental. I wouldn’t necessarily mind this, if these vocal tracks didn’t have English lyrics. Sadly, most of them do. And I’ve found it creates this strange effect of making some tracks feel like Disney songs. (Not hating on Disney by the way – they do great stuff.) At the very least the cheese factor goes up significantly. Continue reading

PixelJunk Monsters 1 and 2 (Wii U and Switch)

Overcooked left a delicious taste in my mouth and spurred on the need for more couch co-op. Overcooked 2 was tempting but I recalled an interesting title on Wii U that I’d enjoyed playing solo. “Dance, Tikiman, dance” has become an oft-repeated refrain, thanks to playing through both PixelJunk Monsters games back to back. Continue reading

A challenge to my readers

Dear readers,

You let me down. I posted almost two weeks ago about a cool shoot ’em up called Blazing Star – that’s Blazing Star by the way and not Blazin’ Squad, a frequent misnomer in my house. Anyway, I explicitly mentioned I had Blazing Star on Switch. And yet not one person piped up in the comments to warn me about… Caravan mode. That’s right, it’s thanks to your negligence that I’m in a mess of trouble! For the lucky ones who don’t know, caravan mode is a five minute only score attack mode included in every NeoGeo re-release put out by Hamster, complete with online leaderboards.

After I completed that post, I decided to take a quick peek at the high score modes Hamster included. That “quick peek” soon became an arresting diversion, swiftly followed by addiction and then obsession. And now look where we are.

All I can say is I hope you’re satisfied. I do not feel I should bear responsibility for this tragic turn of events. Even so, reluctantly, I must beg for your help. Can any from among you put an end to this madness? Are there any willing to take on the caravan challenge, and de-throne my score?

Yours five minutely (and no I can’t pause),

Adrian, aka Maya

Fine dining for two with Overcooked: Special Edition (Switch)

Waaay back in 2014 we had a post about ‘the best games for couples’. The post tells an embarrassing story about me before listing some of our favourite gaming experiences as a couple. In the years since Maya and me have played many games together, and our list today would probably look quite different. One new addition would surely be Overcooked: Special Edition. This is a nifty co-op game that tested our relationship – mostly in positive ways, I’m pleased to report. Continue reading