Category Archives: Video Games

[Video Games] [J-Electropop] Utada Hikaru – Simple & Clean (Ray of Hope Remix)


[Video Games] Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8

Electronic/Pop
Simple & Clean (Ray of Hope Remix) – Utada Hikaru
Theme from Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Remake for Playstation 4.

Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Opening Movie:

Simple & Clean “Ray of Hope Mix”

When you walk away, you don’t hear me say
Please, oh baby – don’t go!
Simple and clean is the way that you’re making me feel,
tonight, it’s hard to let it go

We’re almost through our first month of 2017 so congrats to everyone for that! In other news, fans of role-playing games, Disney, Square Enix and Utada Hikaru are rejoicing around the world at the release of Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Prologue for Playstation 4. Released January 24, 2017 (my birthday week!) the game has been a long time coming for many fans after several side spin-off games were released in the past few years and little updates for Kingdom Hearts 3 have surfaced.

Nevertheless the game will likely prove to be extremely popular and wildly successful like most of the offerings in the award-winning franchise that pits Square Enix characters (including popular heroes, and villains, from Final Fantasy) with Disney characters and often in Disney “worlds.”

Since the beginning of the series, Japanese-American singer, Utada Hikaru, has been seen as a sort of frontrunner for the series as the titular games in the series (KH1 & 2) both featured some breath-taking opening movies featuring music from Hikaru. For 2.8, the iconic “Simple & Clean” from the original Kingdom Hearts gets the remix treatment turning from a dance-techno pop song to a more electro-pop/dance offering.

The “Ray of Hope” remix is quite interesting, though short, and 2.8’s opening movie makes it feel all the more epic. You can check out the video and the song itself above. Here’s hoping to a remix of Kingdom Hearts 2‘s “Passion” showing up somewhere eventually as well.

[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.

 

 

 

[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.

[Alt. Indie Rock] Alt-J (∆)- Something Good


[Alt. Indie Rock] Alt-J (∆) – Something Good (as featured in Life is Strange)

[Music Video “Something Good”]

Get high, hit the floor.
Before you go…

Matador, estocada
you’re my blood sport.

This alternative indie-rock song is perfect for chilling out and hits you right in the feels. Whether you just happened across the song by chance or were like me, and heard it on the highly popular, play-as-you-go, “Choose Your Adventure” style video game, Life is Strange, Alt-J (∆)‘s calming soft-spoken, yet powerfully moving “Something Good” is a great song for these upcoming colder months. With relaxing guitar chords and keyboard arpeggios the abstract, and also very concrete lyrics create a warming, joyful ambiance.

Appearing in the game as the typical Pacific-Northwestern alternative-rock cut your main character, Max, just be chillin’ to. Its delivery (at the start of a brand new day the song plays as an “alarm” to wake you up) comes at a perfect time in the game’s story arch and really draws you into as the misfit archetypal high-school senior just trying to fit in.

Life is Strange is a downloadable video-game available on Xbox One, PS4, PC, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. The game revolves around an angsty 18-year-old teenager named Max, who has moved to Oregon to attend a private art-school for photographers. A place where her interactions with her teachers, peers, parents and others are determined by your choices alone. Decisions made during the games dialogues have lasting effects down the line; like whether you make fun of the class bully or help her during her bad day, or leave a window open to save a bird’s life or simply lament the sight of its dead body.

The twist which takes this beyond a game of storytelling and essentially a visual virtual graphic novel is the fact that Max learns one fateful day, when an off-kilter jock brandishes a gun in the school bathroom and shoots one of Max’s friends, that with the thrust of her hand and enough effort she can reverse time.

After the shooting Max awakens in class, about 10 minutes before she first walked into the bathroom and watched a student get shot. All the conversations, from the teacher’s lecture on Daguerreo-type photography, to class bully Veronica’s verbal jabs at Max play out exactly the same way as during the game’s intro with Max realizing she’s not dreaming. From there on out Max is faced with situations typical of young adult life; going to parties with the popular kids, rekindling a relationship with her stoner best-friend and the like, but with major ramifications and consequences for seemingly benign decisions.

Life is Strange is a refreshing breath of air in what technically could be called a role-playing or Adventure game, but pulls it off in a way never fully explored before in a video game. The result is like playing a movie or a TV show that you have control over, or if you’re real old-school, exactly like the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books except the book is presented in 3D graphics right in front of you. So far I’m loving it.

[Exclusive/Rare Remixes:] FREEZEPOP – テニスのボーイフレンド (Tenisu no Boifurendo) (Kodomo remix)


Notable/Quotable lyrics:

Japanese romaji with English translation undernearth:
anata wa taitei
zuibun ogenki desu ne?
tenisu no boifurendo
totemo ii desu yo!! [repeat 2x]

You are usually
very lively, aren’t you?
[My] tennis boyfriend
[It/You] are very good!! [repeat twice]

anata to… [You and…(I)]

anata wo… [You…]

anata to [you and…(I)]

Te, tai-taitei [usu…usu…usually]
tawa, tawa, tawa, tawa [no meaning chop up of taitei – usually]
tawa, tawa, te, te (anata wo) [anata wo lit. “you at least are” / “regarding you…”]

anata wa taitei [Lit. You, yourself are usually (and no one else)]
zuibun ogenki desu ne? [very lively/healthy right/aren’t you?]
tenisu no boifurendo [Lit. boyfriend of Tennis -> Tennis Boyfriend [my]]
totemo ii desu yo!! [Lit. a lot, it’s good I say / assert. // it’s very good!!]

[Video Game Music Origins:] [Geek Pop / J-Pop] Freezepop – Singles // [NONSTOP MEGAMIX] DJ Tiësto, Activision, Lady Gaga & Adamski


(Original production for PS2 game Harmonix’s FreQuencyScience Genius Girl DJ Hero 2’s deadmau5 Megamix feat. Kaskade Second Feature, DJ Tiesto’s Megamix in DJ Hero 2: Freezepop’s popular music video for TENISU NO BOIFURENDO As a gamer (when time permits) I can’t not highlight music inspired by, from and featured in video games. In fact, there are several games of days past that I can solely attribute to accentuating my love of EDM (electronic dance music) [for a list of good music video games check below].  SSX 3 OST – Emerge (JUNKIE XL Remix) – Fischerspooner

SSX Tricky and more notably SSX 3 on GameCube featured a wide variety of artists including many British EDM acts as well as hip-hop. This game was the first to introduce me to artists such as, The X-Ecutioners, LCD SoundSystem, Audio Bullys and Jason Nevins’ remix of N.E.R.D.’s “Rockstar” with a soundtrack that featured a lot of electronic and UK house music.

Underground sleeper-favorite, blur, a racing game released by the makers of Geometry Wars on PS3 and Xbox 360, had an incredible EDM-filled soundtrack as well. The game sadly went under, probably due to a lack of a good marketing, but its concept was revolutionary, combining the weapon firing elements of Mario Kart with the sports-car inner-city racing thrills of Need For Speed Underground or Midnight Club, blur was way ahead of its time. Check out the blur soundtrack starting with Spank Rock’s “Bump (Best Fwends Remix)

[AMPLITUDE SOUNDTRACK]

Notables: Shades of Blue, Everyone Says Hi, Cherry Lips] For this feature I am highlighting a song out of the Playstation 2 series of music games, “FreQuency” and “Amplitude“. Revolutionary for their time, these games combined elements of rail shooters with music production, where the player would control tracks (such as bass, drums, vocals, FX, etc.) and by successfully tapping the notes the actual tracks would play and be added (or skip or get silenced if you mess up) as you successfully clear the stage. Someone playing S.C.G. by Freezepop in Rock Band

Freezepop was a well-known band through the games alone where they contributed some original music productions that could be called sci-fi techno, trance or just early EDM music. They also created another song called Super Sprode for Harmonix’s sequel to FreQuency, Amplitude, a fan/cult favorite music game that was way ahead of its time. With the song-creating elements of the first game and online interactivity Amplitude is known as one of the greatest music games of all time. There is currectly a KickStarter campain to create a sequel to Amplitude for PS4.


EDM giant deadmau5’s Megamix featuring House legend Kaskade Next, from another popular, but also sadly defunct music game series, comes a stunningly-good megamix of songs by DJ Tiesto featured in the game DJ Hero 2, also produced by Activision. This game was very similar to their other music series, Guitar Hero but featured an actual turntable peripheral used to play the game, scratch and cut-up audio tracks. Though the game was immense fun, it’s very mainstream songlist, huge jump of difficulty from Hard to Expert (much harder than in GH) and lack of support for online play and DLC (though there was a lot of DLC upon first release) led to its eventual demise. DJ Hero by far however was not the first game to use a turntable peripheral, neither was Guitar Hero the first to use guitar add-ons. These medals below to KonamiJapanese video game publisher who’s BEMANI music video game series (started back in 1998) and the obsession of my life from about age 10-19 with their breakout series beatmania, it’s follower beatmania IIDX, and their most popular series to date, Dance Dance Revolution. Video Games with Popular or Prominent Soundtracks: The entire Dance Dance Revolution series Final Fantasy series (notably VII, IX, X, XI and XIII) Audition (Korean PC free-to-play music series) The entire beatmania IIDX series Guitar Hero (3, World Tour, 4) Pump It Up SSX Tricky, and SSX 3 Grand Theft Auto Series & Sleeping Dogs FIFA games and many other EA titles

Sleeping Dogs OST gems — “Professional Loving – Emika” on Ninja Tune Radio


Shoutout to the Sleeping Dogs video game soundtrack which showed me some of what Ninja Tune (the record label) has been up to with its own dedicated radio station within the game.

The equivalent of an Asian Grand Theft Auto IV (with a little to be desired in the driving department) Sleeping Dogs was originally released in late 2012, but was given away in January 2014 on Xbox Live’s servers for Gold Members as part of their “Free Games” promotions.

The game is pretty fun, playing as undercover Hong Kong PD cop, Wei Shen, but what surprised me even more was the soundtrack for the game (which only plays while driving usually), for a game released in late 2012 Square Enix chose several songs that were WAAAY before their time (I wish I’d played this game sooner, I wanted to too when it first came out!)

The Electronic radio station “Ninja Tune Radio” features artists such as Emika, Hudson Mohawke, Rustie, Bonobo, Plaid, Flying Lotus, Two Fingers and Stateless. I am still analyzing the Hong Kong Hip-Hop/Electronic station (HKLUB) which features many local Hong Kong rap groups and DJs.

Either way big ups to Square Enix for their soundtrack choice in the game, which really surprised me to be honest. Their audio department gets a cookie, most def.