Category Archives: Reviews

[Video Game Review] [Music Games] VOEZ – Rayark’s beautiful FREE Anime music game on iOS & Android


[Video Game Review]
Music Game VOEZ for Mobile Devices
Rating: 5/5 Stars & Honorable Mention
Publisher: Rayark Games

VOEZ. The musical tapping game seeks to revolutionize music gaming and mobile gaming.

Previously known as Project V, earlier this week Taiwanese game company Rayark Games released their much anticipated project Voez. Many had been anticipating the game for the better part of this year. I just happened to browse through Apple’s iTunes Music / App store and the Editor’s Picks section was raving about the game. It looked good enough the pictures drew me in with beautiful artwork and graphics.

Essentially, this game is Tap Tap Revolution on crack, well actually more like TTR’s rich, sophisticated, too-cool-for-school cousin that everyone wants to be like. As mentioned in the video review above the game combines elements of DDR (Dance Dance Revolution; a game I used to compete in tournaments for), Beatmania (an offshoot of DDR; CRAZY popular throughout Japan and Asia), and Rock Band.

As soon as you open the game you can tell it is certainly made/influenced by Asian music arcade games. From the slick presentation, the opening anime movie sequence complete with soothing Engrish lyrics to the opening menu and tutorial the game feels too good (and professional) to be true, or free!

The best part of the game however is the gameplay and the music. While most music games, especially for mobile devices have simply cheesy original music or borrow a small helping of “real songs” that usually suck (I’m looking at you Tap Tap) all the songs in Voez feel like they were ripped straight out of Japan’s newest release of JuBeat or Beatmania IIDX, the artists have certainly put in work to create some truly stunning songs. Though most of the songs appeal to an audience that likes anime or has played Japanese music games before (much of the songs are in Chinese or Japanese, are dubstep or happy hardcore) the quality of the songs is so great you might like them even if you don’t like the style of music.

Better still, are the amazing graphics of the game. Everything feels crisp on the playscreen and because the screens are loaded all at once, even lower end devices can play the game fairly well. Like Rock Band or Guitar Hero, you are in command of lines of notes that scroll to a horizontal line at the bottom the screen. You tap the notes as they hit the bottom of the screen in time to the music, maintaining your combo and trying to do as best you can. As you tap the notes radiate a beautiful diamond shape in rainbow colors (if you were exactly on beat) or in gold if you were pretty close to exactly on time.

However, it’s not that simple. There are different note types, some you simply tap, others you must swipe (like unlocking your phone screen), some you must slide your finger across the screen and others you must “freeze” your fingers in place and slide them as well. Not only that, but on some songs (like my favorite “Refel” by Sakuzyo) the actual play grid will shift and move as bass drops hits or during dubstep bass womp rolls (like in “Flame Dark”).

The degree of technicality involved, and how precisely the notes appear, even in timing with the vocals of each song is impressive. Each time you play you want to do better and like most Asian music games, you feel an intense sense of accomplishment when you ‘full combo’ (FC) or perfect a song without missing a single note. The leaderboard is full of players from Asia and America who have FC’d every song. Not only that but your taps can be “Perfect Perfect” or “Perfect Good” meaning if you get more notes tapped exactly on beat even if you miss a few, your score will be higher than someone who full combo’d the song but was not quite as on beat as you. Getting better seems impossible but each time you play you get better as you learn where the notes fall and how the grid shifts.

Voez Review and Rating:

Graphics: 5/5 – Beautiful graphics that are hard to believe are in a free game. From the anime-inspired artwork, the Beatmania/DDR-esque song selection screen to the playboard, this game would fit right in in an arcade or on Xbox Live Arcade / Playstation Network.

Sound: 5/5 – From the menu selection to the songs, its all top notch. The songs are addictive and on iTunes for purchase. Best are “Flame Dark” “Platinum” “Keep You Safe” and “Refel”

Gameplay: 5/5 – The gameplay is addictive and easy to learn, but tough to master. You will find yourself looking for songs in your difficulty range to perfect, and each day you play you will do better and better, which feels great.

P2P/IAP 4.5/5 – While the song selection is very good, you start the game with maybe 1 or 2 songs. After a few rounds of play you unlock keys, which unlock songs but you can’t take them back. I unlocked a few songs I later regretted. Aside from the 2-3 the game gives you, you must buy the rest ($0.99 a song, $4.99 for 6, about $20 for 35 songs, etc.). I ended up buying about 8 songs. In fact, if you don’t buy any the game gets repetitive rather quickly

Summary: Overall, VOEZ is awesome game that should delight music fans, anime fans, or anyone looking to try something new. The game is both exciting and relaxing and is simply a joy to play. It is quite easy to lose an hour trying to best your scores or simply admiring the beauty that is this game.

 

 

 

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[Video Games] Final Fantasy XII gets a Remake coming in 2017


[Video Game News]
Final Fantasy XII HD Remake

Square Enix announced yesterday they will be remaking the classic Playstation 2 RPG, Final Fantasy XII, for an HD remake (presumably for PS4, but it’s possible Xbox One and PC may also receive the game). This comes not long after Squeenix announced a few months ago that they would be remaking the legendary Final Fantasy VII.

While the Final Fantasy VII remake appears to be more a remake in spirit and visually (graphic-wise): the combat action has changed from turn-based RPG to action RPG much like Final Fantasy XV, we have yet to see how much Square will change for the XII remake. In the trailer it appears they left the loved and hated, Gambit system alone. Albeit it looks a little more exciting (attack combos?).

I played the original Final Fantasy XII on PS2 many years back. It was actually one of the last new games released for the Playstation 2 before it was retired and entirely replaced by the Playstation 3 and was in the last phase of games before production stopped for the system. I liked the game a lot. The characters felt new and rich. The storyline seemed interesting, the fighting system was kind of new and best of all there was a nice, hefty amount of voice acting (more than any other FF at the time, next to or maybe even more than Final Fantasy X).

Unfortunately, like Final Fantasy XIII (though for much different reasons) I stopped playing the game maybe halfway through it (at some temple level). FF12 suffered due to some issues with the Gambit system (kind of like programming the AI to execute certain moves but only in certain situations). The game to me felt like it was trying to be a more storied version of Final Fantasy XI: Online (a game I sunk thousands of hours into when I was younger, before World of Warcraft came out). The whole time I played XII I felt like I should be online, or see other people but alas it was not. Not only that but the music choices seemed poor and the team decided to have music play through a whole area, as opposed to music for battles, music for cutscenes, etc. making the soundtrack seem very boring.

The remake is touting a brand new soundtrack and possibly new battle system so maybe it will succeed in ways its predecessor failed. We will know in early 2017.

[Rap & Trap Music] 21 Savage – Lord Forgive & Mind Yo Business


21 Savage’s “Slaughter King” is a steady progression of hard, dark trap beats and street lyrics that goes above and beyond its genre cliches.

[Rap & Hip-Hop] [RTS: Real Trap Sh*t]
21 Savage – Lord Forgive (prod. by Fukk 12)

21 Savage – Mind Yo Business

More from 21 Savage

If you’re not familiar with current Atlanta trap music “slaughter king,” 21 Savage shame on you…and me. I was not either until a few months ago back in early Spring. As an old head (or maybe slowly becoming an old fart), I had stopped following this generation of “trap” hip-hop after Chief Keef’s “I Don’t Like” and similar songs dominated airwaves in the past year or two. Of course, here and there I’d hear a song I liked, mostly off of the radio, but I’ve always identified more with “trap” music of the early to mid 2000s (think Gucci ManeT.I., Lil’ Boosie, Cam’Ron and a host of long fizzled out local ATL groups, like Crime Mob or D4L.

While recently chillin’ with some young bucks in the ATL streets, they did not hesitate to introduce me to the budding rapper. Just as I was with dubstep, trap EDM and IDM music, I did not immediately embrace this new type of music shown to be by friends. Especially as it seemed so braggadocious and over-laden with swag flexing, I initially could not take it seriously. Over time however, I began to hear of Savage more and decided to give his mixtape a listen. What could it hurt, right? Turns out I was glad I did.

I may not fully identify with Slaughter Gang, Chiraq Boys, or this young people’s generation of trapping, drug-dealing, “runnin’ up in them bandos”, pulling heists or other actions that might declare one as hard, but I can identify when music is bumpin’ as fuck (excuse my language, it is necessary here).

Slaughter King: Rating (4.5 out of 5 stars)

21 Savage’s “Slaughter King” is a solid tape full of hard, trap beats and lyrics that actually go above and beyond what I would expect from another trap rapper from ATL’s hoods to come up with. Not to say these rappers or this type of music isn’t ever witty or creative, but as is the problem in many genres (my god, like dubstep) after some time you realize a LOT of it sounds the same.

Thankfully, Savage switches it up with clever lyrics, original if not downright catchy ad-libs (21, 21, 21!!) and hooks. Two of my favorites so far off his December mixtape include “Lord Forgive”: the reflective, but very deep opening trap banger with Savage reminiscing on his come up in the rap game and in urban street life in general. For whatever reason, the instrumental ( masterfully produced by Fukk 12) makes me feel very nostalgic, but also very contemplative. The song definitely immediately feels heavy and while listening to it, as one YouTube commenter put it, “[you] can feel Savage’s pain on the track,” which comes across as sincere and certifiably street.

“MInd Yo Business” is probably one of the catchiest on the tape with a repeating hook (“Mind yo bidness b*tch”) over a similarly hard beat. The track is far more active compared to “Lord Forgive” and is already a favorite among many. There are many other standouts on the mixtape, “Deserve,” “No Peace” and very few boring or even similar sounding songs, save for one or two. Even on those tracks Savage still manages to make them entertaining.

Do yourself a favor (if you’re not an original/true fan of this genre of rap): suspend your judgement and how much you identify with gangsters and hood stars, or even the killers (as Desiigner’s “Panda” would like you to do) and simply enjoy and appreciate the power and feeling behind these trap-heavy numbers. You might be glad you did! Also in similar style of rap, also from Atlanta was Bankoll Fresh who has many now classic releases, following his tragic death in a shooting in March 2016.

 

[Hip-Hop Origins:] [Throwback] Eminem – Seduction (Prod. by DJ Kahlil) // [Dance Origins:] [Deep Trance Throwback] Tom Clous – Secretly & 4 Clubbers – Secrets


Today’s Hip-Hop Origins / Throwback Post:

[Hip-Hop/Rap] Eminem – Seduction (prod. by DJ Kahlil)

From his 2010 album “Recovery” which Eminem has rapped about in his semi-unreleased single “Syllabes” featuring Jay-Z, Dr. Dre, Stat Quo & 50 Cent, claiming “Encore he [I] was on drugs, Recovery [I] was flushin’ em out” Eminem recognized this wasn’t his strongest album, but despite that a few bangers are still present. “Seduction” is a deeply-emotional track with a very solid beat and rhyme structure where Mathers compares the rap game to a woman he wants to seduce with lines like “One minute she loves you / the next she don’t / she’s been stolen from you / it’s like a (verbal) seduction when I tell ’em ‘Girls on the floor…

Eminem is contanstly brought up on comment sections and internet forums as one of the “Greatest MCs of All Time,” whether true or not, no one can deny the “not afraid to take it there” rapper, “8-Mile” star-actor, and ever-controversial Marshall Mathers lacks longevity. Eminem’s music is a shining beacon of originality in a music scene, that, at times, completely lacks it. Ever since hearing “My Name Is (Slim Shady)” at summer camp probably around the age of 10, knowing “my parents would kill me if they knew I was listening to such profane music” (lol) I knew there was something special about Eminem. He had a very unique sound, that sounded authentic, not faked, and some killer back-up in production and features. Working with Dido, Dr. Dre, 50 Cent and countless other artists Eminem certainly has a spot in the circle of “Greatest Rappers of All-TIme.”

Check out this classic throwback and leave comments below about what you think of Recovery and Eminem as a rapper.

Eminem on Twitter


[Deep Trance] Tom Klous – Secretly

[Eurodance / Festival Trance] 4 Clubbers – Secrets

Next we’re highlighting two classic trance tunes, Tom Klous’Secretly” and 4 Clubbers’ Secrets (Club Mix),” two great EDM tracks showcasing the moving power of good trance music. The first “Secretly,” from EDM DJ-producer, Tom Klous, is a chill vocal trance track with heavy layers of instrumentation coupled with mesmerizing vocals (from Tiff Lacey). The second “Secrets,” by 4 Clubbers, is much more energetic and incorporates this energy into fist-pumping, festival-ready synths alongside a very European-style dance/bass structure.

[Future Festival Chill:] Morgan Page – Fight For You (Beltek Remix), Mash-Ups & Remixes


[Dance/House:] Morgan Page – Fight For You (Beltek Remix)

I fight for you,
I didn’t wanna have to raise my voice…
I’m right for you,
You really leave me with no choice…

Morgan Page’s “Fight For You” is already epic enough in it’s original form, with the incredibly festival-ready mash-up take on Page’s own “Fight For You,” combined with Nima Nesta’s “Derby” in “Derby Fight“. or the deep ambient, Sultan & Shepard Remix or the dubstep-heavy Culture Code Remix. The Beltek Remix is another great, mixable remix emphasizing the heavy atmospheric basslines and melodies inherent in the popular song. Having been remixed six ways to Sunday there is a remix in probably at least one genre that any person alive would enjoy. Check some of them out below:

[Dance/Electronic:] Fight For You – Morgan Page

[EDM Festival House:] Derby Fight – Morgan Page Vs. Nima Nesta

[House:] Fight For You (DJ Dan Remix) – Morgan Page

[Dubstep/House:] Fight For You (Culture Code Remix) – Morgan Page

[Deep House:] Fight For You (Sultan & Shepard Remix) – Morgan Page

Find more here:
Morgan Page Soundcloud
Morgan Page Twitter
Morgan Page Facebook
Nima Nesta Soundcloud
Nima Nesta Facebook
Nima Nesta Twitter

[Hip-Hop/Rap Origins:] Wiz Khalifa’s more “indie & underground hits” // PRE-Celebrity Wiz // [Conscious Hip-Hop / Intelligent Rap:] Common – The Game


Keep the Conversation – Wiz Khalifa

To keep the conversation light, I tell the girl a comical line…

Off of one of Wiz’s earliest mixtapes, Show and Prove, “Keep the Conversation” is a favorite with it’s smooth use of sampling and the very original, unorthodox beats that Wiz often rapped over in his days of coming up. Wiz’s production team was just as fire as the rapper himself and delivered top-quality music that would set the course for a new direction in hip-hop music that began when Wiz emerged (from 2006 onward) and ushered in an era of “unorthodox” rappers such as, Kid CudiCurren$yCharles Hamilton, J. Cole, Wale and many more.

Other notable smash-underground tracks by Wiz include: Moolah and the Guap, Homicide (Remix), Still Blazin’, Won’t Land (with a Lucini sample) and Stu (feat. Juicy J)


The Game – Common

It’s global warmin’,
the world is shifting
watchin’ Sweet Sixteen,
bitchin-ass rich kids!

The ever-classic Common is one of the rappers at the forefront of the “conscious hip-hop” movement or “intelligent hip-hop/rap” as I also call it. Music in this genre (and subsequently, in my playlist of the same name on my iPod) are focused more around the message of the lyrics, use more old-school style or soulful beats or are otherwise non-mainstream.

Common’s Finding Forever was a very iconic album for many reasons and some would say it was the album that jettisoned Common onto the national and international stage. It also signaled his induction into Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. music group. He collaborated on the album with British Pop/Hip-Hop songstress Lily Allen (Drivin’ Me Wild), Kanye West (Southside) R&B singer D’Angelo and the late legendary beat-maker, J Dilla (So Far to Go).

So Far to Go (feat. D’Angelo & J Dilla) – Common

[EDM Origins House & Alternative:] Kaskade – Steppin’ Out // Kosheen – Same Ground Again


Kaskade is probably one of the most popular and sought-after American producers of electronic and house music. Chances are, if you watch TV, play video games or went to the movies you’ve heard one of his songs. His music is featured in many different forms of media, much akin to fellow EDM producers and DJs, like BT and Paul Oakenfold.

Our feature is one of Kaskade’s signature songs from the early 2000s, the completely chilled-out, smooth house single “Steppin’ Out

Kaskade is largely known for growing the house music scene in his hometown of Chicago in the early 2000s. Though Kaskade has varied in musical styles during his growth, as a whole, his music can be said to be fulfilling for the soul, or music to put you at ease. Much of his house music includes sultry female vocals alongside soft, harmonic melodies that become instantly recognizable, simply from their uniqueness. Take the song that introduced many, including myself to Kaskade, his absolutely astonishing remix of David Morales & Tamra Keenan’s “Here I Am” featured in the 2006 film The Devil Wears Prada.


Next up was a random song that my iPod shuffled to today. An EDM/progressive-house tune I bought and downloaded back when I was a senior in high school (2007). This one comes from Alternative Electronic band Kosheen, one of their bigger breakout singles, “Same Ground Again“. In fact, their whole 2007 EP, Damage is chock-full of good alternative-sounding electro music that still holds up today. Check it out above and see more from Kosheen at the links below: