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
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 (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
Games Plus is easily one of my favourite game shops to visit – and it’s also the least conventional. Like my previous posts on videogame related shops in the UK, I’m going to explain a bit about this shop and my recent experiences there. The first thing to say was that I found this shop by accident. I had heard rumblings of a game shop in Sparkhill, but with no website and Google Streetview not forthcoming, it seemed likely that there was maybe a shop there once upon a time. Continue reading
If there’s one thing 100+ hours with Breath of the Wild has taught me, it’s that this game rewards curiosity and experimentation. I’d just beaten Ganon for the first time and seen the credits when I felt a curious urge: the urge to start Breath of the Wild over again and make a bee-line for Ganon. No Divine Beasts, no exploration… just the bare necessities. Why? To see if I could do it, of course! Continue reading
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
Back in the day I was a subscriber to N64 Magazine, an unofficial Nintendo rag here in the UK. Every issue of the magazine contained an unconventional “top 5” list. The one I remember to this day concerns Zelda: Ocarina of Time – the top five locations to watch the sunrise. At the time I didn’t own Ocarina of Time, and it was partly because of this top five list that I went out and bought a copy. “This game must be something special,” I thought, “for it to inspire someone to sit there and passively watch the sunrise in not one, not two, but five different places, and have fun doing it.” Continue reading