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!
Eiji Aonuma, Zelda series producer, has suggested in a new interview that he wants the Zelda series to continue Breath of the Wild’s “open air” style (“open air” being Nintendo’s typically off-beat nomenclature for open world). I doubt this comes as a surprise to anyone given Breath of the Wild’s remarkable ambition and its critical and commercial success. It’s an amazing re-invention of the series, simultaneously recreating the familar world of Hyrule whilst adding a million and one new things. But what happens next? What does a sequel to a game of this size and scope look like? Continue reading
I’m a big fan of GFW Radio from back in the day. In case you don’t know, GFW Radio was a PC gaming podcast produced by staff at 1UP.com. Despite the PC branding, discussions on the show were wide ranging, encompassing the state of the games industry, games journalism and wider nerd culture. One of their regular features was the Hero of the Web, basically a dramatic reading of weird, gaming-related material posted on internet forums.
If you’ve followed Very Very Gaming for any length of time you might have noticed that I am mildly obsessive when it comes to voice acting. With that in mind I think Shawn Elliot, the guy who voices the words of these internet “heroes”, deserves to be a professional voice actor, he’s that good. Shawn’s voice serves as an excellent accompaniment to the bizarre tale that is the search for the real-life inspiration for Marin in Link’s Awakening. I can’t say I’m familiar with the concept of falling in love with a videogame character, but does it strike anyone else as odd that this person would fall in love with Marin, of all characters? It seems weird because I don’t recall Marin being an especially fully formed character in Link’s Awakening.
Anyway, if you’re not feeling sufficiently weirded out yet by how some people relate to videogames, you might want to check out some more Heroes of the Web segments which tread similar ground. Whether it’s pondering Master Chief’s virginity, dumping a girlfriend because of Guitar Hero, or marrying Sonic the Hedgehog, there’s plenty more weird and wonderful out there.
The Rune Factory series, a spinoff of the Harvest Moon franchise, eerily responds to all my criticisms of a recent Harvest Moon game. Frontier boasts an impressive cast of likable characters, enjoyable gameplay, solid storytelling, and variety, an element distinctly lacking in some of the Harvest Moon games. Not only do you get to befriend townspeople, cook and take care of your fields, you also fight in dungeons, befriend monsters, and forge your own weapons, tools and equipment. There’s so much to do in fact that is the first part of a double post. The second post will explore the weird gender dynamics in the game, of which there’s much to discuss, but for now I’m going to summarise the game and set out my space-time continuum theories about Frontier. Continue reading