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
Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles (GC) – why does a game with such beautiful water feel like a desert?
Crystal Chronicles is an undeniably beautiful game. The characters, the locations and the dungeons are all beautifully designed and expertly rendered. For me, this game is all about the water, the way it sparkles and shimmers and ripples. Unfortunately, the beautiful graphics only emphasizes the fact there is something fundamentally lacking. This is a tale about why expectations can be a bad thing. Rant mode on. Continue reading
Very Very Gaming Show – Episode 6
They say better late than never, and here’s the proof! We kick off this week’s episode with a brief chat about a new fandangled console known as the “Wii” – and how creepy it is to encounter the Miis of Owners Past. We then dissect one of the Wii’s cutest offerings at great length: Little King’s Story deserves every minute we spend cooing over its music, innovative gameplay and general weirdness.
The second half sees Black and White anger Maya, Earthbound titillate Adrian, and, finally, Harvest Moon: Magical Melody converting Adrian from derisive farming game critic to intrigued observer of virtual plant watering.
Episode 6: Little Molyneux’s Story
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