December 20, 2012

Video Game Wedding Music

Posted in music tagged , , , at 11:25 am by riulyn

So I have been lazy in terms of working on sheet music and I feel a bit guilty about it. Especially since a few months ago I got this interesting request for piano sheet music to “Lucia’s Theme”. The person asked if I could try to do it sooner than later since he or she wanted to use it for his/her wedding in June.

At first I was like “whoa, that sounds cool!” Then I was like “crap I actually should do a good job.”

But anyway, it made me wonder what kind of video game music would I want to have at my own wedding. Since I’m totally going to get married… /sarcasm.

I’d want something from the Suikoden series since you know how much I love that series, and the first thing that comes to mind is “Ceremony” from Suikoden II. As for love songs, “Lucia’s Theme” from Lunar Eternal Blue is pretty good. I guess there’s “Eyes on Me” from FFVIII.

I know there was a wedding in Lufia 2 and in FFX and FFXII, but I’m pretty sure there was no dedicated theme in FFXII and I’m not sure I’d want Lufia 2’s. I haven’t played FFX since it came out so while I’m familiar with the music I don’t remember if that game had dedicated wedding music. All I remember was Seymour…aagh, the horrid memories! Oh yeah, someone got married in Lost Odyssey too. I should go look into that. There was a wedding in NieR too but we know how that went… So yeah, no NieR music at my wedding.

Anyway I’d have to have a song by Yasunori Mitsuda in there since I’m a huge fan of his, so maybe “Warmth” from Xenosaga I or “The Treasure which cannot be stolen”. I’m not sure where I’d put those songs, though. Maybe something by Yoko Shimomura too, though my favorite songs of hers are all sad songs. She does those quite well πŸ™‚ I’m sure a Nobuo Uematsu track will make its way into the lineup, and that just leaves a Motoi Sakuraba song to have representation from my big 4. I’m sure there’s something…someone’s gotten married in a Motoi Sakuraba-composed game right?


December 18, 2012

Winter Break Gaming

Posted in life, video games tagged , , , , , at 5:07 pm by riulyn

In a few days I will have to leave my consoles and PC for I am staying with my parents for 2 weeks. As much as I love gaming, it’s not worth spending this time of the year away from family even though it will be hard to leave Xenoblade and all the other games I’m playing. And because I’m smart, I started up Arc the Lad: Twilight of Spirits. It’s running okay on my PS2 emulator, unlike Growlanser: The Sense of Justice which froze every other time I tried to save. Because having one PS2 is not enough for me, haha. It’s just like using the DS to play a GBA game and using the GBA to play a different GBA game. I haven’t actually used my PC to play a PC game. Will be getting to that at some point (for Bastion, etc.)

Anyway, winter break gaming will mean my handhelds. Unfortunately my PSP doesn’t hold battery life for too long, so for the 5 hour flight I go with the PSP and the DS and a book. I’m finishing up the Stieg Larsson trilogy about Lisbeth Salander so maybe that will be the airplane reading. I also have my laptop but at the moment I only use it for data processing, sheet music, internet, music. I could probably emulate a SNES but my backlog is already long enough already.

Picking games to take home shall be fun. I think this break will be a good time for me to finish off Persona 3 portable run#1. I left off in September to start my Japanese studies with Suikoden I. I’m pleasantly surprised by how much Japanese I can read after a year of self-study, but I know this game too well to know if my next try at a Japanese game, Shining Hearts, will be successful. I’m going through Suikoden slowly, writing out the script and making flashcards of the words and kanji. It’s probably way too much work for little reward, but sometimes I get stubborn about doing things like this.

On the DS side, I should really play Chrono Trigger, which I really just started but decided to play more of Fire Emblem Sacred Stones instead. I see Sacred Stones being beaten over the break even with the grinding I’ll probably do on the plane. Playtime says 21 hours but I think I’ve done more like 60. I keep resetting the game because I don’t want to lose anybody. And now I feel like class changing most of my units. I suppose that means this game was worth the $18 I spent on it.

On the GBA I have Lufia: The Ruins of Lore. The last time I played the game, which was months after its release, I got only a few hours in before giving up. This time I plan to finish it even though it is pretty boring. I’m just too much of a completionist to leave it alone. And even if that Lufia 2 remake is bad I plan to see that one through as well. It appears at least to have better dialogue banter than Ruins of Lore, who doesn’t even have dialogue to save its ass. It is sort of sad to see what happened to the Lufia series. I don’t think the DS remake did great, so the series is probably dead now. Though to be fair, I don’t know how many times they could use a certain plot device without being too repetitive. I think Ruins of Lore doesn’t use that plot device, but I haven’t gotten far enough in it to know. And why does that game have to be butt ugly? I don’t ask for amazing graphics on a GBA but ones that I can actually stand to look at.

December 12, 2012

JRPG Composers Briefly – Motoi Sakuraba

Posted in music tagged , , , at 2:00 pm by riulyn

Motoi Sakuraba. If you haven’t heard something by this guy, you don’t play enough video games. Period. He’s not just a JRPG composer of some of the biggest series like Tales, Star Ocean, Valkyrie Profile, Dark Souls, but I believe he does some of Kid Icarus. Go to wiki to see his ginormous discography.

  • Style – Rockin’. At least that’s what I think of when I think of Sakuraba’s signature works. Electric guitars, bass lines that are pumpin’, hella strings, even the piano is shaking a ton. He can do almost anything though.
  • Strengths – Battle themes. Find a Tales game without a rockin’ battle theme. Or try to listen to the Valkyrie Profile soundtrack and not get in the mood to battle for Asgard. They are also pretty catchy.
  • Weaknesses – I don’t think he does “beautiful” music quite like some other JRPG composers. I’m not sure exactly what is missing. Maybe it’s the instrumentation. His music can make me feel a sadness and warmth, but it’s not quite the same beauty in the melody, perhaps.
  • 5 of my favorite songs by him (how do I choose?) – Fighting of the Spirit (Tales of Phantasia & Symphonia), Behave Irrationally (Valkyrie Profile), Through a Thin Haze (Valkyrie Profile), The Second Act (Tales of Phantasia), Beat the Angel (Tales of Symphonia)

Speaking of Valkyrie Profile music, that’s the music that I’ve been listening to now that I’ve moved on from Suikoden 3. It doesn’t make for good sleeping, as I’ve had some weird dreams. Though in truth I think those things are unrelated, just coincidence πŸ™‚

December 7, 2012

Suikoden 3 Music

Posted in music tagged , at 3:32 pm by riulyn

EDIT – I have no idea what I was thinking when I typed up part of this post. I somehow confused brass with excessive use of oboes/bassoons. I am ashamed.

Guess what’s been playing on repeat when I’m at home? Suikoden 3 music. Because it’s good? Well…not really.

The Suikoden series has some pretty distinctive music for a RPG series. The first two games are composed by Miki Higashino and share many of the same sounds and musical direction. Suikoden 4 and Tactics have one sound (though to be fair, many tracks are shared because many places are revisited). Suikoden V has the Asian plucked strings and a lot of piano going on. Or maybe that’s all I can remember.

When I think of Suikoden 3 music, I think of songs like “Exceeding Love”, “Mysterious People”, “Farm Village”, “Stupid Ducks”. These songs vary in tempo and intent, but the instrumentation choice for the entire soundtrack is quite clear after a few tracks. There’s quite an abundance of “buzzy oboes and bassoons”, “wind pipes”, “strings”, “melodic percussion”, while the other percussion is more like a thud and less a ting or a crash. What’s missing from these synthesized instrument Β is the warmth of real vibrato, the fullness of real instruments. When you consider that this is a PS2 game from 2002, you know they could have gotten more realistic-sounding synthesized instruments.

Was this a deliberate choice? Was it a good choice? It’s hard to say. It certainly makes this game’s soundtrack distinct from the other Suikoden soundtracks. It also makes me desire to hear some of these tracks played by a real orchestra. A lack of effort into synthesizers on a PS2 game just feels a bit cheap.

To make up for the “cheap” instruments, the melodies are often not carried by one voice but by two, dueling voices. That doesn’t necessarily make the songs better if it isn’t catchy/emotional/etc. But it can be fun to try and follow one instrument throughout the whole song.

This soundtracks leaves quite a few Suikoden fans cold, but I personally find it a charming, quirky mess. It’s not like the soundtrack doesn’t have any sad, heavy or heartwarming moments, but the sound direction makes it more of a light-hearted, comical type of soundtrack. Good for whistling/humming/singing along to.

December 5, 2012

Afraid to Fail

Posted in video games tagged at 10:41 pm by riulyn

I don’t want to give out too many personal details, but I have a friend who has recently gotten the video game bug and she likes a good story so she wants to play some JRPGs, but she doesn’t like the complication of menus and considers the stereotypical, turn-based game something that would be “hard”. But she is happily enjoying Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance and was doing okay with Kingdom Hearts at first when she borrowed it from me for a bit.

She’s become pretty interested in visual novels, which is something I just haven’t ventured much into. I guess my limited experience is with Phoenix Wright, which may or may not actually be a visual novel. I just had no idea what I should be doing. It wasn’t exactly a bad experience, but I got distracted by something else and moved on.

I do have to admit though that I would put tactical JRPGs, action JRPGs, and any shooters to the back of the list almost every time I was presented with the choice. My hand-eye coordination is pretty bad; I suck at driving and I think it’s reasonable to hate driving because it stresses me out to know that I could kill someone with my car. In comparison, I feel like a wimp when I shy away from games based on their genre.

However, when my friend first described turn-based game systems as “hard”, it took me by surprise. It didn’t make sense how something like a PS1 FF game or a Suikoden game could be hard. You got to control their actions directly! Many times you went through the first part of the game just spamming the attack command and your enemies would die before they could even hit you, and this didn’t require reflexes or quick timing (unless you played ATB). Reviving “dead” characters was easy. Sometimes you could mess up, but then you’d just fight random enemies to gain another level and try again. It just didn’t seem hard at all to me. It seemed like more of “pain in the ass to navigate menus” problem if something was a problem.

Then when she told me she worried about playing a game “wrong”, it actually made sense. With skill trees and customization, it can get pretty overwhelming. For someone like me who has played a bunch of games where you can customize your characters, I go with heal> elemental spells> buffs> debuffs> attack. I tend to play a bit defensive and I never worried about being “wrong”. I like to conserve my items too, so many times I won’t use my special attacks except on bosses. Then I realized, that’s the reason why I shied away from tactics games at first. Besides issues of perma-death (oh how many times I replay battles because of this), there is definitely an optimal way to customize your units. And not all games allow you to grind your way around it. It’s also the reason why I prefer “simpler” action games like Ys in comparison to Kingdom Hearts. I like when my button/button combo does one thing and not 20 things. I like having some idea where my character will be on screen πŸ™‚

Of course, for me it’d be weird to play a game where you could take any action and the game would proceed the same way regardless. At the same time I can understand not wanting to see that “game over” screen and losing the progress you’ve made since the last save (thank god more games are adopting retry without huge penalties). In the end we play games for entertainment, to succeed and make progress. It’s just, being afraid to fail, both I and my friend are probably missing out on some great games. Years ago I would have never touched a game like NieR, and anyone who has followed the blog knows how much I love that game. I’m sure there are plenty of other wonderful games with wonderful stories (I’m thinking Mass Effect and Baldur’s Gate at least) that I have yet to experience as I am slowly getting over my hesitation to fail.