Category: Random tidbits

When Akon worked on Sonic the Hedgehog

I just had to share this fun bit of Sonic trivia that gave me a good laugh today. (And you know it’s going to be good because Sonic the Hedgehog is involved. Sonic’s involvement is a must for trivia to be considered good in my book.)

This story begins with Sonic 1 and 2 for the Megadrive/Genesis. We’ll get to Akon later, rest assured. Now, the music for the first two Sonic games was written by Masato Nakamura. Nakamura was the lead composer for a popular J-pop band called Dreams Come True. I’d vaguely heard of Dreams Come True but hadn’t ever listened to them until recently. I shouldn’t have been surprised, given the early Sonics have easily some of the most iconic videogame music there is, that Dreams Come True look to be a really good band. I know basically nothing about J-pop but this group makes me want to know more about J-pop. They sound a bit like classic Michael Jackson but with a great female vocalist.

Here they are performing live in 2014. Look out for Nakamura on bass!

Around the time of Sonic 2’s release in 1992, it seems Nakamura decided to use a melody from Sonic 2 as the basis for a Dreams Come True song. The melody he used shows up in Sonic 2 in a few different places: it’s most developed form is in the ending music, but there’s a short form of it used in the options menu. Here’s the ending, which has the fullest version.

Personally I always liked this tune but have to admit it never jumped out to me as having potential to be a pop hit. Well that’s why I’m not a superstar music producer, clearly…

Is it cheesy? Sure, a bit. But all things considered, this is a cracking arrangement and performance. I find the English vocals by Miwa Yoshida especially impressive – she sounds completely comfortable and natural singing in English despite (presumably) not being a native speaker.

This would be a nice story on its own, but unfortunately I have promised Akon content, so here goes. More than 10 years after Sonic 2 and Sweet Dream (also known as Sweet Sweet Sweet), the game commonly referred to as Sonic ’06 saw a number of bands and acts hired to record songs for the soundtrack. The results are both amusing and cringeworthy, like with one of the game’s main themes performed by Zebrahead:

Zebrahead remind us here in the chorus, lest we ever forget: in Sonic’s world, life is an open book and compromise does not exist. Sega knew that, which is why they hired then-superstar Akon to remix Sweet Dream by Dreams Come True for Sonic ’06! 

In this one remix everything comes full circle. The scales have fallen from my eyes and life suddenly seems somehow complete.

14 years after Masato Nakamura walked away from the Sonic series, he returned (in a fashion) for this oddity of a game. To recap: a song from Sonic 2 was arranged and performed by a Japanese band. Akon covered the band’s song and contributed those ridiculous autotuned vocals that made him a household name in the mid 00s. Sega then put the end result in Sonic ’06 and a trivia is born.

A nostalgic lens on ailing businesses in The Lost Arcade (2015)

The Lost Arcade is a well made, nostalgia-steeped 2015 documentary about New York videogame arcades. It charts the rise, but mostly the decline of arcade culture through to the mid-2010s. The people and themes it looks at are a much more ambitious and frankly, much better done, form of what we at Very Very Gaming were interested in with our blog posts about game stores in the UK. As a film it looks at the histories, the people, the stories, the owners and their passions in and around New York’s arcade scene.

Continue reading

A new venture!

I have some exciting news. Since neglecting this beloved site I have been secretly working on a new project together with Maya. While there is still work left to do around branding and things, I couldn’t wait any longer to announce it on VVG.

Here is a prototype video essay put together by us on the subject of flight in videogames. In a move designed to shock and deceive, we named it ‘Flight’. The video essays we have planned are, in many ways, takes on our favourite subjects and themes from the blog and the podcast. It’s hard to believe that we’ve been kicking around these thoughts online here for just over six years – wow. The biggest difference here of course is the new (to us) medium of the video essay, and so far it’s been a challenging but rewarding one to work in.

In case anyone is curious about the games featured, the video includes footage of the following games (in order of first apperance):

  • Demon’s Crest (SNES)
  • Panzer Dragoon Zwei (Saturn)
  • Soukyugurentai (Saturn)
  • Super Mario Bros 3 (NES)
  • Skies of Arcadia Legends (Gamecube)
  • Sky Odyssey (PS2)
  • NiGHTS Into Dreams (Saturn)
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Genesis/Megadrive)

I’m really curious to know what you guys think of our approach with this video, so if you have any feedback we’d greatly appreciate you letting us know with a comment below. Thanks!

Run ‘n’ gun history, part 1: Gunstar Heroes (Megadrive) vs Contra III (SNES)

Cuphead has inspired me to reflect on my personal history with this wonderful genre. We’ll be covering heavyhitters like Contra, Gunstar Heroes, Metal Slug, as well as some more obscure entries. Introducing the classic sidescrolling run ‘n’ gun:

I grew up in the 32-bit era with only limited exposure to the 16- and 8-bit systems. As a result my first encounters with traditional run ‘n’ gun games were via the Wii’s Virtual Console. Here, I played two of the most iconic run ‘n’ guns ever made – Contra III and Gunstar Heroes. Let’s kick off this trip down memory lane with a by now classic debate, a mainstay of 16-bit console warring. Contra III vs Gunstar Heroes: which is better? Continue reading

Downsizing my game library

I recently decided to trim my game collection. I’ve said it before, but I don’t consider myself a collector. And yet despite this, over the years I’ve accumulated what amounts to a collection. At my last proper count, back in 2016, I owned 250 physical games. And that number has only gone up since 2016. So it was a pleasant relief to offload around 100 games recently, with plans to get rid of more soon.

Why now? Well, as someone who gets pleasure from playing games rather than simply owning them the numbers just weren’t making sense. I’ll try and break it down mathematically. Let’s say that I play on average one unique game per week. Extrapolating from that I would play something like 52 games in a year. That’s a fifth of my game collection, circa 2016. Not a great figure! Especially when a large portion of the games I play are newly acquired and not from my enormous backlog.

Given that it would take an estimated 5 years to play through every game I own… it’s just not worth it. I have a new philosophy about possessions: owning an item – storing it, holding onto it – has a cost. Usually it’s not financial (although it could be), but there is something we might call a mental cost or burden. The question then is what is worth more – the mental cost of owning an item or the financial cost of replacing it at a later date?

This reasoning has helped me to ditch a lot of stuff that, frankly, is so cheap and easy to replace that I wonder why I never pulled the plug sooner.

And so, the grand finale. Highlights from the hall of shame.

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