Tagged: written by Adrian

Frustration reigns in Dark Souls

An old friend of mine is a musician. He’s always been a musician. And his first solo album was… well, even if I listened beyond the opening track, I never mentally got past that first song, hilarious as it was. The album opened with an extended narration discussing the concept of chaos with a musical bed underneath. The monologue’s delivery was like a heavy academic paper, but the content was nonsense: “Like all good stories, this one begins with a great flash of light”. Really?

I mention the above because, like my friend’s debut, I got past but never over the opening of Dark Souls. I’ve played this game through twice now, once on the PS3 and once again on Switch. Both times, the opening hours were enough to sour the whole experience for me. (By the way, in case it weren’t already obvious, what follows is going to be rather complain-y. If you would prefer a more balanced take, try my previous post on Dark Souls). If you’re sticking with me, I’ll take you through my own experience with the Undead Burg, one of the opening areas of Dark Souls. Continue reading

Final Fantasy VIII and silent film aesthetic

I’ve been playing the original Final Fantasy VII for the first time and it reminded me of this post about Final Fantasy VIII’s sound design that I wrote but never published back in 2018. (Why, I don’t know. I suppose because it lacked a profound conclusion I felt it “not worthy”? Silly of me in hindsight.)

All of the Playstation era (and earlier) Final Fantasies have a silent/pre-talkie era film quality to them. There are surprisingly few sound effects outside of battle, and no voice acting whatsoever throughout. One of the most unusual features of the series’ sound design is the total absence of sound during on-screen dialogue. It was and still is a common device in videogames without voice acting to have a sound effect during dialogue… why? I don’t know, to be honest. Sometimes noises indicate who is talking, with an indistinct voice gurgle to represent each character. In games of yesteryear where the sound effect don’t change between different speakers, the purpose was less clear.

In any case, the effect of doing away with any text scroll/dialogue sound effects is a lot like watching a silent film, where title cards showed text and dialogue against music. It means these games relied a lot on Uematsu’s score, and thank goodness then these soundtracks are so strong and so varied. 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

N64 Nostalgia: Rayman 2: The Great Escape

Rayman’s a bit of an underappreciated figure these days. Notwithstanding his acclaimed comebacks in Rayman Origins and Legends, he seems to have dropped off the map again now, with a dearth of new content starring the limbless hero.

I would like to take a bit of time to praise the Rayman series, particularly the entry I spent the most time with in my youth. (I should like to return again to the Rayman series to look at my favourite as an adult, but that will have to wait.) My first Rayman game was the first sequel, Rayman 2: The Great Escape for N64. Continue reading