May 29, 2016

Let’s talk game soundtracks again

Posted in music tagged , , , , at 10:29 pm by riulyn

I recently picked up a few soundtracks. I would ideally have most of these soundtracks digitally as I really don’t need the physical CDs, but alas I don’t live in Japan and can’t legally get the MP3s unless the company puts them on Amazon US. Which Nihon Falcom did for the Ys soundtracks (thank you!). But anyway, I bought some soundtracks.

  1. Ikenie to yuki no Setsuna (English name “I am Setsuna”). I actually preordered this one and have enjoyed it for a bit. It’s a mostly piano soundtrack. The battle themes sometimes use drums too. The soundtrack basically shows us that the piano can do so much; it is both melodic and percussive. The tracks for the game are not complicated. It is another reminder that simple can be the best. The main theme makes me think of “For River” from To the Moon, though.
  2. Fire Emblem Path of Radiance OST. I was preordering Sora no kiseki the Third Evo and (not a preorder) Zero no kiseki Evo from CDJapan and decided to order some CDs while I was at it. I didn’t own any FE soundtracks and Path of Radiance was the favorite of the games I played. I’m not sure it’d be my favorite FE soundtrack, but it is decent. I probably wouldn’t put it in the top 5 or 10, personally, because I find FE music to be more of the good in the game but not so interesting outside of it sort. Actually, most tactical RPG soundtracks have that problem for me, a topic maybe for another day. I think the 4 CD collection is also not as crazy as the latest 8 CD collections for Birthright & Conquest, though I do think of the tracks I can remember from the newest 3DS FE games, the songs may be better there. The awful 3DS speakers make it hard to judge, though.
  3. Valkyrie Profile OST. I’ve already talked in the past about how I am a fan of this soundtrack. To be honest, it’s not the most logical thought to unite the game’s music with its plot, but somehow it works great. The rockin’ soundtrack is really great for all the dungeon exploring, and the other tracks have the appropriate moods associated with them. Also I have to admit that the first VP game’s OST made such an impression on me that I cannot remember a single track from VP2 or Covenant of the Plume. I think of VP music and can only think of VP1. So if the other games had good music…well I guess it’d be hard for me to recognize that.

I am a bit tempted to buy some Sora no kiseki OSTs on the Amazon digital music store, as that’s really the series I’m into right now (it has taken over almost all my Japanese gaming time). I’m also undecided on the Tokyo Xanadu OST. I feel like the Kiseki OSTs are better (at least FC and SC). Otherwise I’m not sure what to buy now, soundtrack-wise.

Speaking of Tokyo Xanadu, I see that there still has been no localization announcement. I’m thinking it won’t be this year since I think text-wise it’d be closer to a recent Kiseki game than an Ys game, and XSeed has announced Trails of Cold Steel 2 (Sen no kiseki 2) for this year and Sora no kiseki the 3rd for next year, and Ys sells well for them so they’d probably jump on that once Ys VIII releases (my understanding is that Falcom doesn’t let XSEED or others work on localizing the game until post Japanese release). I’m just sad that the TX tag is so dead on Tumblr and I don’t know where to talk about it with my sucky Japanese writing skills. Oh well, maybe I just need to take some time to replay the game and study more Japanese in order to understand the Japanese fandom on pixiv or wherever…

September 15, 2015

Japan Trip – Photos Time

Posted in life, music, video games tagged , , , at 3:51 pm by riulyn

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This is the Lawson store that was decorated with Dragon Quest goods. I bought some slime candy which you’ll see in a later photo. Since I wanted to stop by Akiba anyway, it wasn’t a bad side trip.

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21 games! I did not lie. Mandarakes and Book Offs are good places to check first for used games if they aren’t too rare. Akiba prices in general will be a bit marked up compared to other neighborhoods like Shibuya or Ikebukuro but there will be a bigger selection. The Mandarake in Akiba completely owned my wallet…

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7 game-related soundtracks. Would have picked up Saki & Tyria’s hymmnos CD if it was also at the Akiba K books, but it was not meant to be (maybe I’ll splurge on it sometime next year…)

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Game-related goodies! The top is a Ludger cup that I found at a small Tales of shop in Akiba. Too bad the selection wasn’t huge, but it had some goodies from the Tales of events that take place in Japan. Below the cup are two pins that I bought used at a Kbooks in Ikebukuro featuring Ludger and Milla (yes, obviously Ludger is my fave from Xillia 2 and Milla of the Xillia duo). To the right are gacha finds – there are very few gachas related to video games that aren’t also heavily-promoted animes (aka Pokemon, Persona 4, or recently God Eater) but I found a Chrono Cross one in gachatown in Akiba and got a small Kid keychain and the smaller Milla pin is from the Tales of gacha in the Tales of store. Below that are some dragon quest slime candies I have not tried yet and a magnet of the hero of Suikoden I that I found surprisingly at the animate in Ikebukuro. There were also magnets for a few other characters in Suikoden I & II. I’m not a fan of chibi really but it was Suikoden and not at a used games or doujin store, so I had to buy something. Finally the bottom is a notebook featuring the Pokemon Halloween-themed Pikachuu designs. Yes, Halloween advertising is a thing in Japan and has already started in many places.

I figured I spare the photos that would do no justice but I did also pick up a few more Suikoden doujinshi as well as some Tales of Xillia doujinshi. In the end this trip was pretty shopping-heavy, packed pretty much late morning to late night with something, whether it was shopping or sightseeing or karaoke, and I wish I could have had a bit of a more relaxed trip. But overall it was a great success. Here’s to hoping I can visit Japan again in a few years…

September 14, 2015

Japan Trip – The Game & Soundtrack Tally

Posted in life, music, video games tagged , , at 5:29 pm by riulyn

7 days in Tokyo is just too quick. A good portion was devoted to shopping, which was not kind to my wallet. I picked up some important stuff as well as some interesting stuff. Let’s start with the games.

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October 21, 2014

Let me talk game music again

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

I wish I could come here and pimp a soundtrack, but I haven’t bought a soundtrack since Rhapsodia/Suikoden Tactics in March. I haven’t really heard too much in-game music that makes me really want to grab a soundtrack either, though here are a few I might consider for the future.

1) Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor. I don’t really know the best way to describe the soundtrack. Everything just seems fitting for the mood of the game. There’s a good amount of electric guitar and synthesized instruments to sound modern Tokyo, but tends more towards rock and avoids being as pop-ish as Persona 3/4 or The World Ends With You. I don’t really own another game soundtrack with as many wailing guitars, so it would work pretty well in my collection I think.

2) Suikogaiden I. So far I have encountered some lovely remixes of Suikoden 2 music. I especially enjoy the Muse music. A full soundtrack would probably be more up my alley than the Asian or Celtic remixes, though one day I may get those too…

3) Ys Origin. I think it is a solid effort. However, I do find myself comparing it to Ys I and II music and preferring that instead. I’m early enough in the game that it has plenty of time to still impress me.

The other games I have been playing recently have not made a big impression on me. It doesn’t help that I play 7th Dragon on the bus a lot, so I don’t usually have its music on. Still, it really goes for a retro vibe and to be honest, I’m not that into early 90s video game music. I hear plenty enough of Frontier Gate’s music due to the repetitive nature of the game and I’m pretty sure there isn’t a soundtrack out for that one anyway. Finally, I have not been impressed with the music from Tales of Hearts R or Tales of Xillia 2. I think it’s pretty obvious for anyone who has followed my blog that I really only like a few Tales soundtracks and the rest I like only some tracks of.

July 25, 2014

An overview of games I’ve been playing via songs that get stuck in my head

Posted in music, video games tagged , at 12:26 pm by riulyn

I just finished Legend of Dragoon but I’m a bit bored with review after review, so it’s time to talk about music again. After all, I have played a bunch of games recently and have only made short statements about music. I guess that sort of describes my current video game life, though, as music has been sort of an afterthought. It doesn’t prevent music from getting stuck in my head.

Ar Tonelico 3 – M.S.G.Y.E.C. – The major appeal of this game for me is diving into cosmopheres. This song is played in dive shops and gets me pumped for the fun times ahead.

Breath of Fire GBA – Wait, what music? I play this game in too short of bursts and at random times for me to bother to turn on the music. Whoops.

Devil Survivor Overclocked – Cool Jam – Shows you how much I like the Demon Auction. It is a lot of fun even though some crazy bids occur. The rest of the game is sort of up and down with some weird difficulty spikes. By the way, the soundtrack for this game is pretty good for its style.

Drakengard 3 – “Final Boss Theme” – (Too lazy to find the actual title when a search like this works well enough.) To be honest, Drakengard 3 music doesn’t get stuck in my head and gets overshadowed by NieR music in my mind. However, that ending theme is beautiful even if that battle is horrible.

Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance – I rarely ever get Fire Emblem music stuck in my head. Which is crazy, considering a year ago I played Fire Emblem Awakening for like 100+ hours. I pretty much only know the main theme of the series.

Frontier Gate – “Frontiersman’s Town” – I put that in quotes because I’m too lazy to do a real translation of the title. It’s basically the home base song. So far have spent a lot of time there, just picking up quests and wondering just how long between plot points… The music in the game is decent at a Suikoden Tsumugareshi Hyakunen no Toki way. I wonder if the same group of Konami composers did both of them…

Legend of Dragoon – Forbidden Land Battle Theme – I don’t even really like this song, but maybe the fact that this battle theme gets stuck in my head compared to the other ones that I liked better shows just how much more time I spent listening to this battle theme compared to the others.

Magna Carta 2 – The Journey Begins – While nothing in particular gets stuck in my head, probably because I am playing this game on and off, this song I recognize the best so far. The music is alright. It sounds a lot like the first Magna Carta’s soundtrack so it doesn’t stand out to me.

Ni No Kuni – Field – Is it possible to play Ni No Kuni long enough without this song getting stuck in your head at some point? I do enjoy the song, even though I heard it a lot. It’s probably a good thing that it has a kind of epic and sweeping type of sound with repetitiveness mitigated by varied instrumentation. I guess I could say the same about traveling on the world map for a lot of the game. At least there were different monsters to catch.

Shining Ark – I can’t even find a link to the OST on YouTube, even though I have a song that gets stuck in my head from that game (Chapter 8 town song). It really does pale in comparison to Shining Hearts, and even that soundtrack is a mixed bag. I like Kikuta’s work on Secret of Mana way better than his Shining stuff. Supposedly he did the Atelier Escha&Logy soundtrack so I’ll probably be hearing some of that in the future.

Sol Trigger – I can’t remember a single song clearly from the OST. Then again I don’t know if there is actually an official one released? I only see videos of ripped music.

To the Moon – For River – There isn’t a ton of music variety in this game but it’s all really fitting to the mood of the game. I don’t think it’s possible to finish this game and not get this particular song stuck in your head, since it’s played so much. But I think it’s good so I don’t mind.

Virtue’s Last Reward – The game is being too atmospheric for music/sound from that game to stick in my head. I do remember the “An Ambidex Gate has been opened” voice really well, though.

Well, that’s a decent survey of games I recently played or am playing right now. Of course I have more games I could have added to this list. I omitted two games whose soundtracks I know too well to really pick a single track out of, or Radiant Historia and Valkyria Chronicles, since all sorts of tracks from those games get stuck in my head. At this point I’m not going to dig as far back as Bravely Default, though it is the next soundtrack to buy on my list of soundtracks to buy. Let’s have a top 5 OSTs I want to get next just to end off this post.

1. Bravely Default. I raved about this before.

2. Ar Tonelico 2 or 3. I’m leaning towards 3 at the moment.

3. Valkyrie Profile. I want to officially own rocking out Sakuraba tracks.

4. The World Ends With You. Something different but good.

5. Valkyria Chronicles. I actually don’t own this yet but I listen to it enough to think I should.

March 26, 2014

Time to pimp some music again

Posted in music tagged , , , at 8:17 am by riulyn

This blog has recently lacked discussion of JRPG music. Partly because I have been playing some games with rather average/forgettable soundtracks (let me not talk about Tales of Innocence again). Partly because I am so focused on playing games and learning Japanese (if they are Japanese games). Partly because I don’t really have a ton to say.

However, after starting up Ar tonelico 2, I remembered how much I enjoy listening to that soundtrack when doing image analysis at work. I don’t know how best to describe the mood of the soundtrack, but it’s very “up” – like moving and energetic and stuff. In a very melodious way, of course. Lots of singing, though. I personally love vocals in video game soundtracks.

Another melodic and awesome soundtrack is the one for Bravely Default. At some point when I actually finish the game, I will talk about my issues with the game, but music was definitely not one of the issues. The character battle themes (or the music that starts playing when a character does a special move) are great. I can’t decide which of the four is my favorite yet, even after 1000+ times of hearing each of them. (Not an exaggeration, by the way.)

Ar tonelico 1 also has a great soundtrack, though I don’t think it has as much singing in it as the later ones. The soundtrack also seems smaller than the later games? I haven’t really listened to the tracks outside of the game, though.

Of course I can never say enough times how much I love the Valkyria Chronicles soundtrack. Despite being relatively small for a decent-length JRPG (only some 50 tracks), I can’t think of a single throwaway track. A more thorough discussion of this soundtrack is probably somewhere else on this blog. Nevertheless I only recently played and beat the game, and I have to say a certain vocal track was 100x more impactful in the game. Otherwise the music can clearly stand on its own. It could also totally be inserted into Final Fantasy Tactics without too much issue, though the happy tracks would probably have to be omitted. Maybe because I don’t have as much fondness for Final Fantasy Tactics as I do for Valkyria Chronicles, but while the music in FF Tactics was good (and I’d probably like it more if I went back to listen to it), I just don’t think I can ever love it in the same way.

December 2, 2013

Japan video game shopping plans

Posted in music, video games tagged , , at 10:41 am by riulyn

In a few days I’m off to Japan! It’s been almost impossible for me to concentrate on anything school/work-related, but gaming is still a pretty good distraction from thinking hard about the future/personal life/etc. I’ll probably be regretting the ridiculous number of hours I put into video games these past few weeks/months starting in March or so next year, but I also have to fight the stress that comes with thinking about that. I’ll fight in again starting in January…

Anyway, I don’t want to buy a lot of video games in Japan but there are a few things I’m interested in picking up if I see at the right price.

  • Suikogaidens 1 & 2. I don’t see myself getting it other than used, since they are PS1 games. I think buying it at a retro shop in Japan will be less costly and stressful than eBay.
  • Tales of Vesperia for PS3. Thinking of getting this used if I see it for under 2000 Yen. I’m not sure how low used game prices can get in Japan. I still might bite if it is under 3000 Yen.
  • An otome/GL/BL game. Tokimeki Memorial is probably what I’d get (it’s an otome) since it’s highly rated and also long (and also complicated…eep). I’m sticking to something for PSP or Vita, though, even though I could probably emulate a Japanese PS2 and run PC games. I just like the idea of romancing while lying on my bed.
  • Not video games, but I hope to find official Suikoden 3 and Suikoden Tierkreis OSTs. They are no longer stocked by PlayAsia, etc. I might also get the Xenosaga soundtracks depending on how much money I want to spend, since those are also relatively hard to get.

Otherwise, even if I have to spend a bit more money, I’ll probably continue to import Japanese games at a slow rate. I’m still working on Suikoden Tsumugareshi Hyakunen no Toki and will probably go through the Suikoden I & II for PSP before I contemplate buying more Japanese games besides the ones mentioned above. That means I’ll be putting off purchases of FF Type-0, Sol Trigger, etc. for a good while still. Maybe by then one of those will get localized…

September 5, 2013

Let’s Talk About Music Again

Posted in music tagged , , , , , , at 6:12 pm by riulyn

Just because I haven’t been working on sheet music doesn’t mean I should stop talking about music, right? If I’m surveying a shit ton of games, I’m hearing a lot of different soundtracks still, right?

I’ve been playing a bit of “play whatever loads in my PS2 and if not, Tales of Xillia”. Which means I should have an opinion about Tales of Xillia’s soundtrack by now. Compared to other Tales’ soundtracks, I feel like Xillia is in the middle? Even though I’m over 20 hours in, I’m only in the second chapter and there’s plenty of time for the rest of the soundtrack to show up. Sakuraba’s best themes, if there are amazing ones on a Tales soundtrack, tend to be near the end anyway. I have to say that the anime intro song is probably my favorite Tales intro song ever. I have spent hours listening to it on repeat. But anyway, I’m happy that Xillia’s soundtrack is better than Graces’. I might have been imagining this downward trend in “quality”, or at least in my personal enjoyment, of Sakuraba’s music starting with Abyss. I wonder how much overlap there is in the music for Xillia and Xillia 2? I guess I’ll find out when the sequel comes to North America.

Otherwise I have been engaged in the inner debate on which Wild ARMs soundtrack I’ve liked the best so far. I think it’s a fight between 3 and 5. The best part of 5’s soundtrack was the great variety in it, but 3 has catchier tunes. I probably should wait until I finish all the Wild ARMs games before choosing the Wild ARMs soundtrack to represent. I feel like when people think of Wild ARMs music they think of the first game, so it may have the best of the Wild ARMs soundtracks.

Recently, in my attempt to finish more PS2 games, I played some Magna Carta and while the game is taking way longer than it should to get through battles and has some of the worst scripted and acted cutscenes ever, the music is actually pretty decent. I don’t think I like it enough to own its soundtrack, but it certainly makes playing the game more enjoyable.

And while Magna Carta wasn’t loading, I was able to load Drakengard. I feel like this soundtrack will need to grow on me. It is certainly…interesting. I think the music fits the game? The game is also…interesting.

The one soundtrack, or rather music collection, that I’m getting soon and looking forward to is the 3 music CDs that come with the Ys IV Silver Anniversary edition. It’s $20 more than the limited edition, and I am severely lacking in Ys music on my computer. I don’t think I’ve met an Ys song that I haven’t liked, and certainly not a battle theme. I really, really hope the Amazon date of early November is true. I need it to come in before I head to Japan!

Finally, I don’t know if I spazzed enough about the awesome Muramasa soundtrack. Sakimoto’s music group continues to make good stuff. And frankly, I find myself once again wondering why he isn’t one of my top composers? When he goes melodic, it’s usually wonderful and awesome (like Valkyria Chronicles music). He certainly does atmospheric stuff well too (Breath of Fire Dragon Quarter, FFXII). In Muramasa, his crew makes melodic, sometimes driving music that has this traditional Japanese-ness to it. It’s incredibly appropriate for a beat-em-up RPG where you drive through enemies in traditional garb. I think out of all the big name Japanese RPG composers, Sakimoto is the least appreciated. Sometimes he was just so good that you didn’t even realize his genius? If that’s the reason, then I was one of the unenlightened…until now?

Ah well. Mitsuda will probably forever be my favorite, even if it’s the nostalgia talking. Chrono Cross music got me into video game music, after all.

January 13, 2013

On Town Themes…

Posted in music tagged , at 1:11 am by riulyn

After spending 15+ hours in Dragon Quest VIII, I am starting to feel that the game’s soundtrack, while beautiful, seems incredibly repetitive. For such a long game it seems like I hear the same song for hours. To be fair, I could do a better job at getting from point A to point B. But even if I’m warping from one town to the next, I don’t really get much of a change of music. I have to enter a church or a casino, or go outside. There’s a day and night theme for towns, but that’s it. Of course maybe there is some special town further into the game that has new music, but I just haven’t gotten there yet.

The whole “town theme” designation first reminded me of Lufia. Lufia games (which may have been imagined from DQ games) have one theme for towns. But they also have a village theme and a port town theme. So there are 3 songs to choose from.

Still, I prefer each town having its own theme. For me, town themes give each town more of a distinction than their look or the dialogue that takes place in it. I like it when certain towns get the “snowy bells” theme, the “lively” theme, the “sad” theme, the “peaceful” theme. In Xenogears you blow up your hometown within the first moments of the game, but that place had one memorable theme. In Chrono Cross, I loved the variations on a theme for each place depending on the world. I think I prefer almost all of the “another” versions over the “home” versions, but they are both very good.

It just feels weird that a place like Pickham has the same music as Farebury. But I suppose a town is a town, no matter what shape it’s in.

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 🙂 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?

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