Gaming’s greatest mystery? The lyrics of 1080 Snowboarding’s title song

I do enjoy me some 1080 Snowboarding. This was a fixture for many years in my house as a youngster. It’s a mighty fine racer that shows absolute dedication to nailing the feel of racing on a snowboard (not that I would know), and features slightly out there tracks that are designed around the boards’ unique handling. As a racing game, it falls right in the middle of that arcade/simulation game spectrum. Besides the racing, I was also impressed by this game’s presentation. The music isn’t the best, but it was so rare to hear vocals in an N64 game! OK, so “hear” may be a strong word in this case, and that’s where our mystery comes in… Continue reading

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Things I love about… Lords of Thunder (TurboGrafx-CD)

I have a new year’s resolution: write more posts for the blog. And to achieve that I’m going to write shorter posts. I really outdid myself with my last post, and I think it partly explains why I’ve not been around. So with that said, let’s keep it brief(er than usual) here! Despite being busy these past weeks, I have somehow managed to play a crapton of games this Christmas/New Year break, including paying my old friend, Lords of Thunder, a long overdue visit. I’ve loved Lords of Thunder ever since it came out on the Wii’s Virtual Console service in 2008. After my Wii stopped working normally several years ago, I’d not been back to it. After some experimentation I was able to successfully initiate a Wii U transfer, which rescued my VC games and (to my surprise) all the save data too. That wasn’t the only surprise though – I was completely unprepared for the frankly incredible loading screen that accompanies a Wii to Wii U move.

Anyway, one of the first games I redownloaded on the Wii U was Lords of Thunder. As the title of this post states, I love it, and you’re about to read just some of the things I love about it. Continue reading

The melodic music of Konami shooters

For the past several weeks I’ve been in thrall to the Gradius series. The strategic power-up selection, the challenging levels, and the reward of downing a powerful boss – it’s a joy to play these games. Alongside Gradius there are also spin-offs that share the same DNA, most notably Salamander/Life Force and Parodius.

This post is dedicated to these games’ amazing tunes, all courtesy of Konami’s esteemed composers. Konami are perhaps best known music-wise for the Castlevania series. but Gradius is a neglected well of wonderful melodies and beautiful tunes. It’s unfortunate that Konami neglected the series after the mid-2000s, and that Gradius never had a talent like Michiru Yamane attached to the series to expand and extend its unique musical identity into the present era.

What makes the music of Konami’s shooters so special? TV Tropes has a great phrase that explains:

The bulk of Gradius’s most crowning songs accurately convey some sort of cosmic wonder.

This is a great way to kick us off, so I suggest we see how this bears out in practice! Continue? Continue reading

VVG Show 15 – Operation Rainfall, Xenoblade Chronicles

We are back and it is 2016! We revive the final episode of our Operation Rainfall trilogy – first recorded in early 2016 – for your listening pleasure. Better late than never, right? Right…? Let’s hope so. In this episode, we discuss the epic Wii-exclusive Japanese RPG, Xenoblade Chronicles. First off, Adrian confronts Maya’s unhealthy fangirl obsession with the evils of the game’s romance plot. You too will learn what the Twilight series and Xenoblade Chronicles share in common. We go on to discuss (and imitate) the game’s English voice acting, and compare the various Operation Rainfall titles before returning once more to Shelia.

Please be warned that, while we don’t go deeply into Xenoblade’s plot proper, there are (romance-related) spoilers discussed. What a bunch of jokers!


Episode 15: Operation Rainfall, Xenoblade Chronicles

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How all the time in the world spoiled the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series

I’ve been trying to pin down the precise differences between console- and arcade-style games. I’ve never been especially confident in how to explain the appeal of personal arcade favourites like Time Crisis 2, House of the Dead 2, Metal Slug, and too many shooters to name, over the meatier games associated with consoles. It’s not that I don’t like console games – far from it! – but I associate the short, intense and replayable experiences of arcade games with gaming on a deep level. Analysing the qualities that make arcade games special is the main topic of this post, but it comes courtesy of an unlikely source: the console-only Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series. Continue reading

How I lost control, part 1

I honestly can barely stand the Dualshock line of controllers. Hate is too strong a word, but I’m definitely Dualshock-averse. When I want to play a multi-platform game, I’ll nearly always avoid the Playstation consoles: I’ll pick the Saturn port over the PS1, Gamecube or Xbox over PS2, and Wii or Wii U over PS3, purely based on controller preference. Replacing the Dualshock has become my obsession lately, and I’m writing this post to share my journey. If I can help even one person through their own Dualshock nightmare, then it’s been worth it. Continue reading

Soukyugurentai (Saturn) – an underrated classic

Soukyugurentai (aka Terra Diver) happens to be one of my all-time favourite games. Originally a 1996 Japan-only arcade shoot ’em up developed by Raizing, it was later ported to the Sega Saturn. Why do I love it so? Simply put, Soukyugurentai looks, sounds and plays like a dream. The gameplay is fast and furious, but not brainless; the game requires strategy and thought to master. Your ship handles great, with fluid and responsive controls. Last but not least, Soukyugurentai feels uniquely cinematic, with a dramatic musical score by Hitoshi Sakimoto and a striking visual style that holds up wonderfully to this day. Continue reading