These two indie games are so up my street it’s ridiculous, it’s like they were both tailor-made for me and that is a rare feeling indeed. Touhou Luna Nights is like Castlevania Symphony of the Night had a baby with Metal Slug. With the added bonus of time manipulation. Crimzon Clover World Explosion is a terribly named but extremely well done modern shmup. (Apparently weird names are mandatory for modern shmups.)
Let’s discuss Touhou Luna Nights first. A Metroidvania with time control; honestly it’s one of those great ideas that makes me say, “wow, I can’t believe no one did this before”. I say that, and actually there is another recent indie game called Timespinner that, as implied by the name, does in fact mess around with time. Even so, it’s such a strong idea you wonder why it’s not been done before in mainstream games. Continue reading
I finally caved and bought a Switch. No going back now – and hey, I finally get to make my own Switch pun. I’ve not owned a portable system since the GBA. Times are certainly a-changing; I’m sad to write that I’ve put my CRT TV away in storage and a few less-used consoles are to follow. I still have plenty of old games to write about on the blog so no worries there. It’s just a bit of a bummer when life gets in the way.
Getting back on track here, even I have to confess that the Switch is very cool. It’s a slick piece of kit with a great gimmick of coming off the telly and into your palm whenever you like. To be honest the way I’ve used it so far is no different to off-TV play on a Wii U, but it’s always nice to have the option to take it out. Small as they are the joycon controllers are nifty too. I only have a couple of games, most notably Super Mario Odyssey – it turns out Switch games are expensive! – but I’ve put the most time by far into Hollow Knight. Continue reading
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
Ever since their beginnings the steady mantra of game sequels has been more, more, more. And as we know there are many ways to do more – some good, some bad. More can sometimes mean worse, and the drive to add new stuff can end up obscuring the kernel of the series/experience – the fundamentals which are characteristic of a series. Other times, the new and old elements of a game co-exist awkwardly: “why is X so good, and Y so bad?”. So, confession time. I enjoy the original Super Mario Bros over every other 2D sequel. Why? Read on…
Context is important to video game music, but what happens when you switch off the system and the music continues playing? I have been listening to a lot of game music recently, independently of gaming. It’s the first time I’ve seriously dabbled in music from games, much of it from games I’ve known for many years. Other game soundtracks are recent discoveries, while some soundtracks are from games I’ve never even heard of, let alone played. This has made me reflect on the role of music in games and the impact of listening to videogame music independently of games. Continue reading