July 14, 2014
Gaming in Stereo: Old is New Again
As the eighth generation of consoles are still relatively new, new games are hard to come by, and development can be delayed while learning the ropes for these consoles. As games that are next gen specific like Batman: Arkham Knight are seeing delays, we are seeing a return of previous gen games that pushed the older hardware to their breaking limits. This past January we saw the re-release of Tomb Raider in the Definitive Edition for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. At the end of this month we will see the re-release of The Last of Us in the Remastered Edition for the PS4, and at some point this year Grand Theft Auto 5 will jump to the new hardware as well. While some may scream that this is simply a money grab from companies, I see this as an opportunity for people to play gems that could have taken visual, performance, or even gameplay hits from the aging seventh gen hardware. I purchased Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition for the PS4 recently and I am surprised over how good the game looks and run on the fresh hardware. I still have my original 360 copy and that was by no means an ugly game, but their is a stark visual and performance contrast. This maybe the continuing trend of HD releases we received during the last gen, which I was well on board with. Playing the game the past couple of days has also given me a new respect for Jason Graves incredible score. Graves is also known for scoring the Dead Space franchise, Murdered: Soul Suspect, and Alpha Protocol. Tomb Raider’s soundtrack may have been something I missed in the past ( with the amount of games I play and soundtracks I listen to, something just get lost), but I am correcting that today with a look at its fantastic score.
Secret of the Island Complete – Jason Graves – A very percussion heavy piece, laid with early Japanese/tribal feel; Secret of the Island is a great representation of Yamatai, the island in which Tomb Raider takes place. When the strings enter you can feel the sense of danger; the mysterious Storm Guard; the Sun Queen, Himiko; and the deranged cultist led by Mathias. The percussion makes this piece, enjoy
SOS Tower Final In-game (unreleased) – Jason Graves – This track was not on the official soundtrack, but thanks to SoundCloud and Graves, we get to listen to what is one of the more happier moments in the game. The part of the game where this piece takes place is a huge step for Lara. Still shaky about her surroundings, she is less than confident to climb the dilapidated radio tower. She does, and proves to herself that she can do this, she can become the character we know. The sight from atop the tower is beautiful, and this piece captures that wondering beauty.
A Survivor is Born – Jason Graves – The main theme from Tomb Raider, is sweeping, beautiful piece of production. Lara’s theme that starts around the (1:25) mark is epic, encasing all that Lara has been through on Yamatai and becoming the strong protagonist she is meant to be. At the (2:02) mark, the Lara theme is played again but by a solo piano. I love how in the piece there is the same central theme, the same notes even, played three different ways, at different tempos; but yet it all fits together so perfectly. I hope you Enjoy!
May 15, 2014
Gaming in Stereo: Snack Size Edition
Normally I only post a Gaming in Stereo once a week but this track from OverClocked Remix has been on repeat since yesterday and I can’t get enough of it. “TornadosaurusRex” by PrototypeRaptor is a remix of Mega Man 9’s Tornado Man’s theme. It features a take on the theme from K-wix “Thunder Tornado” and mashes it with a drum and bass beat similar to one of my favorite bands Pendulum. Funny how things come full circle, I only found out about Pendulum via a video game (Motorstorm) and now a video game remix is harking back to Pendulum. PrototypeRaptor did an excellent job of just making a fun track to jam to. It was a real surprise to hear lyrics near the end of the track, but I think was a very good fit. Enjoy the track and if you are interested in downloading it, it is free over at OverClocked Remix.
May 12, 2014
Gaming in Stereo: The Lineage of an Assassin
Assassin’s Creed is one series I never tire of. Some may argue that the yearly titles are starting to set in franchise fatigue, and to a point, I agree. But unlike other yearly releases, they are given ample development time, they are always trying new ideas and mechanics (some that stick and others that only appear once), and the sheer amount of content you get can be staggering. To me, they are like taking a walk through a history book, but with fun action doodles in the margins. I am currently working through Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, since I play these on the consoles I waited till I was able to play the PlayStation 4 version of the title to jump in. For a cross-generation title it is quite stunning. Black Flag has been a dream come true since I finished Assassin’s Creed 3. One of the standout elements from AC III was the naval battles, which in Black Flag, take the forefront. As a bonus we received one of the best pirate themed games of all time, something Disney (Pirates of the Caribbean) could never deliver. Jesper Kyd has helmed most of the series as composer. Kyd composed the scores for Assassin’s Creed, II, Brotherhood, and shared duties on Revelations with Lorne Balfe. Balfe scored parts of revelations and Assassin’s Creed III. I have shared Balfe’s work on AC III on a previous Gaming in Stereo. Assassin’s Creed: Liberation, a spin off of AC III that landed on the PS Vita (later consoles and PC) was scored By Winifred Phillips. Black Flag was scored by Brian Tyler, known for the excellent Far Cry 3 soundtrack. Though some people, myself included, were a little disappointed when Kyd didn’t return for Assassin’s Creed III, but I feel it was for the better. Kyd did a great job differentiating the sound of AC and AC II, and I feel fresh composers did the same for the following titles. Today we are going to look at those different sounds with some tracks from Black Flag and Assassin’s Creed II.
Jesper Kyd – Ezio’s Family – Assassin’s Creed II
This track is simply beautiful. With the piano, stings, and vocals it feels very fitting for renaissance time period. Since the Assassin’s Creed series is a tale of two time periods, one modern and the other a historical point in time, the track adds an electric guitar element at the (2:44) mark. Easily one of my favorite tunes from this series, enjoy!
Brian Tyler – Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag Main Theme
Brian Tyler captured the escapades of Edward Kenway perfectly with this theme. The drums and violins give a sea shanty feel, breathing a sense of playfulness in to the tune. The frantic drums at the (1:29) are the highlight, but like the game, this feels fun. You can feel in the music that Kenway likes his “privateer” lifestyle, though the game does have its more serious moments as well.
Bonus Track: Brian Tyler – On the Horizon
I am going to let the bonus track speak for itself. There are epic drum sections later in the piece, so listen for those. This does show a more serious side to Black Flag, enjoy!
April 8, 2014
Gaming in Stereo: Wedding Edition
I know I have been away for some time, planning a wedding, even having a year in advance, can be a difficult time. The most difficult of these choices has clearly been what song I wanted played while dancing with my mother. My mother has been the most influential people in my life, pushing me to always do better and always taking an interest with the things I love. She is a constant reader on the site, always forwarding me articles on the good the gaming industry does, and when ever she visits, takes time to sit and watch me play. My love and appreciation for classical music stems from her pushing me in middle and high school. I started learning music when I was around 9 years old. I played the trumpet from then till I graduated high school and I can still read sheet music to this day. There had been several times I wanted to quit, with the reason either being some of my friends or a teacher had annoyed me to the point of no return; but, because of her I stayed. Now, as an adult, I see that it was for the better and I can now honestly say, thank you. When choosing the song to dance with my mother, I wanted it to incorporate all of the above. I wanted it to have emotion, be gaming related, and be an orchestrated piece with no lyrics what so ever. I am not a traditionalist by any means. I feel there is more emotion in music without lyrics. Lyrics can be an empty shell, devoid of meaning, and can be crafted by anyone. Real composition takes an artist, and I looked to one of my favorite game composers, who I deeply respect as an artist and composer, Nobuo Uematsu for a composition. I chose “Zanarkand” from the Final Fantasy X soundtrack. It is the version taken from Uematsu-sans “Distant Worlds II: More Music from Final Fantasy” album, it has a full orchestra playing the piece instead of the MIDI version from the game (the new HD Remaster has much better audio, Yay!). I wanted to say thank you for your hard work and dedication to me for the past 29 years. I have grown into a young man that appreciates the arts and well crafted music because of you. I try to pass that love of music and games with each Gaming in Stereo article I write. Mom, if you read this before you leave, I love you and hope you enjoy the music! To everyone else, I will be departing for a bit, but will return in force, with articles popping up, hopefully next week. I may have to blog a bit while the misses is out shopping on our trip, and don’t think I would go on a honeymoon and leave my handhelds!
March 20, 2014
Gaming in Stereo: An Awesome Tribute to Bubble Bobble
I had a different set of songs picked out for this article this week, then I came across this song and things changed. Hands down, one of the best remixes, and one of the best songs I have heard in quite a while. “Bubble Dragon: A Bubble Bobble Tribute” by 7Bit Hero is a remix of the “Bonus theme” and “Main Theme” from Bubble Bobble, a game that was released in arcades (one of the many cabinets I have had the pleasure of playing) in 1986. 7Bit Hero, out of Brisbane, Australia, combines music with gaming to create something completely different. The original tunes married well with lyrics, one of the few times this actually works. The result is something that feels like a pop tune from the 80’s that feels fresh. The song is free for download either at OverClocked Remix or 7Bit Hero’s site. The music video is below and is incredibly well done as it is sad. I love the song so much I have added it to my weddings playlist. Enjoy this wonderful tune, and if you are interested in more from 7bit Hero, they have a free interactive app on Google Play and the Apple App Store as well as their albums “We Eat Loot” and “Hey You! a Flappy Bird Lament” are available for purchase.
February 5, 2014
Gaming in Stereo: The Ambiance of a Hunter
It has been quite some time since the last music article I posted and I apologize. With the busy holidays and my wedding coming up in just a few short months, my schedule has been hectic, but enough excuses, lets get to some tunes! Both tracks today are from the same ReMixer, Argle, and come from OverClocked Remix. Both tracks are from the Metroid Prime series, a series that I love to death and hope that Retro and Nintendo can bring a new spin on the Prime series to the Wii U. One interesting fact about Argle’s remixes is that the original tracks had a faster tempo, the remixes have a slower tempo making them feel more ambient in nature. The tracks have plenty of layers and surprises ranging from acoustic guitars, chip tunes, and pianos; though they do retain their electronic feel. Listening to these tracks over and over makes me want to fire up the Wii and play through the trilogy again, maybe a good way to spend the weekend.
“Relics of an Ancient Race” – Metroid Prime – Argle
Starting with a warble, the track quickly kicks into gear with vocals and effects accompanied by chip explosions. The ambiance this track makes with the stings and stead drum beat is awesome, making the track feel like you are exploring worlds from behind visor. Heavy guitars and the melody pick up at (2:30) and finishing with some very nice harp and piano work around the (4:30) mark. The soundtrack to the Prime series is already rather heavy with electronics and ambient noises, and to remix that is quite a feat that shines through the remix.
“Bogged Down” – Metroid Prime 2: Echoes – Argle
I love the organ implementation in the beginning of the track and it follows through out. This track has more heavy guitars than the previous track but fits with the darker image the followed Echoes. Hitting at the (2:28) mark, a beautiful piano production takes over the melody. Finishing off the track at the (4:00) mark, a suave acoustic guitar finishes off the melody. This track has as much variety as the previous track. Enjoy.
November 18, 2013
Gamerchat is back, discussing what we want from Next Gen.
Our podcast is back after a long hiatus, we are sorry for that. Real life can sometimes hinder our schedules is unpredictable ways. Brad (thesoundman) and I are talking about what we want from the next round of consoles, and what we would like to see disappear as well. We will be doing a series of these, with various people, taking about what we liked and disliked about the previous generation we are leaving behind. Enjoy.
Intro Music – “Master D is for Dance (Rise of the Albatross)” by Gario from Bionic Commando Remixed – Ok, Let’s Grove (OverClocked Remix)
October 22, 2013
Gaming in Stereo: The Dark Knight Rises
This Friday sees the release of Batman: Arkham Origins, a prequel to Arkham series developed by Rocksteady. Arkham Origins takes place roughly 5 years before Arkham Asylum and puts the Dark Knight in first contact with many of his rogue’s gallery that we know of today. The game takes place during the Christmas holiday, and as a blanket of snow covers Gotham, Black Mask issues a death warrant on the caped crusader. The game not only received a new development team, WB Montreal, but a new composer as well. Christopher Drake took the musical reigns from Ron Fish and Nick Arundel, and created something that sounds both familiar to both fans of the Arkham franchise and the recently wrapped Nolan trilogy. Though Drake has scored Batman media before ( Batman: the Dark Knight Returns, Batman: Under the Red Hood, and Batman/Superman: Public Enemies), I was hesitant, just as I was with the new voice cast, until I heard the final product. The final product maybe one of the best Batman soundtracks to date, to no discredit of any previous soundtracks. The soundtrack is well put together with sweeping stings, racing electronic beats, deep brass, exploding percussion, and even some well know Christmas jingles make cameos. Let us dive into the defining soundtrack of Batman: Arkham Origins.
Arkham Origins Main Title – Christopher Drake
This is the main theme for Arkham Origins. The beginning of the this track is very reminiscent of Hans Zimmer score from the Dark Knight trilogy. Starting at the (0:11) mark we get that same electronic beat, explosive percussion, and deep brass sound. At (0:33) the track makes its own impression with a sweeping strings and a proud lower brass sound at (0:53). At the (1:26) mark, the track kicks the tempo up again including a chorus this time. This track feels like we are watching Bruce in a flashback of the events leading him to become the hero he will be. The main theme seems to hold the same character building we will see from the story, and we couldn’t have asked for a more grandiose entrance.
Assassins – Christopher Drake
Now I have not played the game yet, but from the title I am guessing this the main theme for villains Black Mask has assembled to hunt down the Batman, and it could not be more epic. Starting with racing strings and a deafening bass hit, it goes directly into a low key piano romp at (0:09), the track doesn’t let up. I love the use of the brass, especially towards the (0:30) mark with the staccato notes followed by the whaling note. The track is as epic as the villain cast charged with hunting down the Dark Knight, enjoy!
Arkham Origins Suite – Christopher Drake
There are a lot of familiar sounds from the previous tracks but there are hints at other tracks, including the very spine chilling Joker theme, which is a twisted version of Carol of the Bells. Nothing like hearing the Joker’s cackle over a Christmas jingle. Enjoy the culmination of the Arkham Origins soundtrack.
October 8, 2013
Gaming in Stereo: Tribute to The Wind Waker
It has been 10 years since the original release of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. This past weekend saw the physical release of the The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD, which has been available for download since September 20th. Almost being 30, I can still remember the hate the title received when its cel shaded visuals were released to the world. During Nintendo’s 2000 Space World event, they showed off a more “mature” Zelda demo, and everyone’s hope for a mature Zelda on the GameCube was justified. Then one year later, Nintendo crushed that hope with a cel shading, a younger Link, and a completely different direction. Though the hate was strong, Nintendo persevered and delivered one of the best, and most endearing Zelda titles of all time. I got my physical copy this past weekend, and have been loving every moment, including the sailing. The three songs that I have picked for your listening pleasure, have some reoccurring theme’s; but they pull together the feel of the title in their own ways. Though Gannon has returned and Hyrule, now rest at the bottom of the Great Sea, the game has plenty of moments that either want to make you laugh or tear up with joy. Though I typically prefer the more “mature” Zelda title, Wind Waker has a special place in my heart; making me feel for the world, the characters, and not having that impending doom hanging over my head. Coming off Ocarina of Time, I never played Majora’s Mask (sorry), there was a dark cloud over my Hyrule experience. In OoT, you play as young Link, but he is forced into a dark world and grows up too fast in this impending world to really appreciate that youth, Wind Waker fixed that issue. Wind Waker’s colorful cel shading, charm, and fantastic score capture that essence of youth you get when Miyamoto takes the stage at any press event. With the new functions of the Pictobox in the HD version, I have found several Tingle bottles that have had fantastic pictures, capturing that charm and fun of the title.
Since there is reoccurring theme’s through out all three tracks, and I have actually featured one of these tracks before, I am just going to give small descriptions and let the music take it from there. Let get to the music!
Here is a little bonus, to kick this off properly, some art of my favorite leaf violinist, Makar!
The Wind Waker Symphonic Movement – The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Symphony
There are plenty highs and lows in this piece, at times it shows the brilliance of endearing world and sailing exploration. It clocks in at a heft 10:30, but has a lot to offer as it hits over many of the main themes from the game.
“Hoy, Small Fry” – HyperDuck Soundworks – Featured on the Over Clocked Remix album “25YearLegend”
On of the best remixes on that album, “Hoy, Small Fry” captures the title music in a Celtic folk music vibe. The track does a great job of radiating the joy endearing element of the game, just a warm, fuzzy feeling. This track makes me want to set sail for Outlook Island and join in on any festivities the small island may have.
Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker – Dragon Roost Island – Andrew Skeet/The London Philharmonic Orchestra
I have featured this track before, but it still is a beautiful composition and unique take on the first “dungeon island” theme. the various transitions from mandolin, to piano, to saxophone, to strings, to a trumpet finally taking hold of the melody. It is a great track that has excellent build. Enjoy.
September 9, 2013
Gaming in Stereo: Be Aggressive is Released!
The newest album from OverClocked Remix I highlighted last week is out, and it is awesome. Full of high energy music, the album remixes the music from Gunstar Heroes, originally composed by Norio Hanzawa. The album features a lot of electronic beats and guitars mixing with high tempos creating the high energy found with in the game. While I have burned through the first disc and starting on the second, this is already a hit in my opinion. I already have a few favorites on the first disc I am going to share with you today, and hopefully they sway you to download this adrenaline fueled album. The download can be found here and the download nets you both discs (24 tracks in all) and the amazing artwork by The Coop. Let’s check out some of the tracks:
And Heroes Emerge (Opening) – DusK
This track is fairly short, clocking in at 0:49, but is a great lead into the following song. Very guitar heavy, with an awesome drum beat and added synths; the track makes a very good opening statement, “get ready to rock!”. Not all of the album is rock music, a good bit is very electronic, but this opening track and its companion “Loadout” get the album heading in a good direction. I love the snare march at the end that drills into the next track.
Loadout (Stage Select) – DusK
This is the track the previous song interludes. Again, very guitar heavy, but this track has even more synth spread through out. I love at the (0:17) mark where the synth takes over the melody repeating a lot of the guitar riffs, but feeling original. The guitar melody solo against the the synth layover at (1:45) is a nice change of pace for the track. The two opening tracks make the album title fit very well and I am glad they arranged it the way they did. If a more mild track on the album was position first, I don’t think it would have had the same impact as these two. Bravo!
Lunar Ecstasy (Option) – Jakesnke17
This track and the bonus track, the openings I am in love with. A very simple beat, but fun and full of energy; the track hits full stride at the (0:36) mark. Though not as aggressive as the previous tracks, the beat and tempo is constant, making for a fun layout. I love the crash at (2:10) and then the bass and beeps picking back up.
Bonus Track – Square Zero (4 Stage) – Eino Keskitalo
Like the last track, the opening has an intoxicating hook. The beeps and drums has my head bouncing to the beat. It has some heavy guitar parts in the beginning but changes at the (0:53) mark adding a lot of synth to the mix. The great part of this track is at the (2:11) mark until the end of the track feels like a jam session. It sounds like the ReMixer had a lot of fun with ending and letting the music just flow. Enjoy!