#WeeklyGameMusic: Sync (Fez)

#WeeklyGameMusic: New week, new music.

Do you feel the beat? Yes, that one. Careful, don’t skip that one. You don’t want to fall off of those disappearing platforms! Great, now keep the rhythm. Now we’re all in Sync, a piece by Disasterpeace from the mind-bending game, Fez.

Fez is a fairly simple puzzle-platformer with a simple story. Gomez, the lead character, lives a rather sheltered but still peaceful village whose knowledge and experience ends in 2D. Yet as a chosen one, Gomez obtains a magical fez from the village elder that allows him to travel in semi-3D. Abusing this power, however, causes the one thing that keeps the world together to break apart, and defrag across different worlds. It also crashes the game. Stuck in a progressively degrading world, it’s up to Gomez to fix his mistake.

The gameplay of Fez, as mentioned earlier, is about traveling in a bizarrely 3D way. More accurately, the fez allows Gomez to rotate the world on its vertical axis by 90 degrees. But since Gomez operates in 2D physics, the depth of the level collapses after every rotation, allowing him to make platforms align properly. While most puzzles rely on understanding how this physics system works, another set of puzzles rely on deciphering codes. When one finds a Fez code, they can input the button combination the code represents, unlocking some fun collectables. Overall, it’s a delightfully colorful platformer that isn’t very punishing, but has some nasty difficult codes to decipher.

Fez was originally released for Xbox 360 as a downloadable. It is now available for Playstation 3 & 4, and on Steam for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

#WeeklyGameMusic: Temple of Rain (Guacamelee!)

#WeeklyGameMusic: New week, new music.

This week’s music, Temple of Rain, is mucho Mexican composition by Rom Di Prisco. It’s a bueno piece that makes you excitado for the majesty that is temple número uno. ¿I mean, what were you expecting, señor luchador? ¡This! ¡is! ¡The pun-filled! ¡Guacamelee!

Guacamelee! is a metroidvania beat ’em up starring lone farmer Juan Aguacate in a pursuit to save El Presidente’s Daughter (the game reveals her name only after completing it; I’m unfortunately not that bueno). He also gets killed by the skeleton Carlos Calaca within the first cinco minutos. ¡Ay! Fortunately for Juan, he is sent to the parallel universe where the dead lives, and finds a legendario luchador mask that lets him travel between the living and the dead. With his newfound powers, he heads straight towards Carlos’ base to beat him once and for all. But first, he needs to break that Choozo statue. ¡It’s importante!

Unlike the common metroidvania tropes, Juan doesn’t use weapons to fight against enemies. Like a true luchador, he fights with fists and kicks, leading to some surprisingly deep combat system. Each power he gains can be used not only to smack harder on his enemies, but can also increase his combo and reach to higher and/or farther ledges. A huge amount of focus in the game is in teeth-gritting hard platforming and gauntlets, and boy is it satisfying to get through this game’s many challenges. Combined with lots of universe-hopping, genuinely useful dodges, and a grapple & throw move that adds more to both puzzles and combat, and we have a winner.

Guacamelee! was originally developed as a downloadable for Playstation 3 and Playstation Vita. It is also available of Xbox 360, Xbox One, Playstation 4, Wii U, and Steam for PC, Mac, and Linux.

#WeeklyGameMusic: Gone Home (Journey’s End) (Dust: An Elysian Tail)

#WeeklyGameMusic: New week, new music.

Oh man! I’ve been dying to tell about Dust: An Elsyian Tail, a game made by a single Korean-American. But first, the music: from Hyperduck Studios comes a touching credits music called Gone Home (Journey’s End). Can you hear all that rain pouring from your eyes?

The game’s story starts with Dust waking up in a forest, and having a terrible case of amnesia. For one, there’s a floating, talking sword flying towards him, vaguely informing him the journey he must overcome. For another, there’s a squeaking nimbat following the sword, claiming it’s hers. And lastly, they’re surrounded by monsters. You know, a typical video game hero’s morning.

As it turns out, the game has a lot to give. For one, the game has very tight combat and platforming controls. Outside of the quick one-two-three combos, Ahrah, the talking sword, can also pull out the dust storm that sucks everything in and hit them multiple times. Fidget, the flying nimbat herself can cast magic, which combined with the dust storm creates devastating attacks. Outside of combat, the map is organized in a Metroidvania fashion. Unlocking new skills also allows Dust to traverse places he hasn’t before. And the story of Dust is surprisingly pure, which despite having only a few twists, is endearing on its own.

Dust: An Elsyian Tail was originally released as a downloadable on Xbox 360. It is currently available on Playstartion 4 as a downloadable, and Steam for PC, Mac and Linux.

#WeeklyGameMusic: Life is Beautiful (Deadly Premonition)

#WeeklyGameMusic: New week, new music.

This week’s music is…the creepiest…most haunting…and downright scary music track in horror games’ histor- AH HA HA HA! No, sorry, I can’t do this. I mean, this horror game, Deadly Premonition is famous for being so bad, it’s good. So of course this week’s music is the one that hilariously breaks this game’s serious mood, Life is Beautiful by Riyou Kinugasa, Takuya Kobayashi and Hiromi Mizutani.

Deadly Premonition should hit the Twin Peaks fans’ funny bone with its story. Greenvale is currently housing the mysterious serial killer, the Raincoat Killer. His first victim, Anna Graham, was found pinned into a tree in a T-pose, with her stomach cut open. Naturally, a crime so deliberate would attract FBI agent Francis “York” Morgan attention, as he investigates various clues at the crime scene to profile what has happened. But first, York needs to pass through the red room. Because Twin Peaks.

Despite being labeled a horror game, Deadly Premonition is mainly an open world game with lots of side quests. It shares a lot in common with Majora’s Mask in that each citizens has their own schedule, and taking on side quests involves knowing when, where, and who to talk to. Honestly, these open-world portions are where the game shines the brightest, with distinct characters, funny dialog, and lots of bugs to make fun of. Action sequences are clearly indicated when the world suddenly darkens with a purple haze, doors no longer lead to the same place, and violent “shadows” (zombie-like creatures whose dialog often flip-flops between whether they want to die or not) start appearing. In this mode, weapons are utilized similar to Resident Evil 4, where any long-range weapons requires stopping in-place and aiming. In comparison to the open world portion, these parts are frequently panned.

Deadly Premonition was originally developed on the Xbox 360. The improved versions are available on Playstation 3 and PC via Steam.

Weekly Game Music: Bird’s Eye (Senko no Ronde DUO)

New week, new music.  This week’s music is a futuristic composition, Bird’s Eye, that sounds like it’s only a step away from spaghetti western.  This strange hybrid of music genre by Yasuhisa Watanabe is conveniently in a game that also combines two unlikely gameplay: Senko no Ronde DUO.

Senko no Ronde DUO describes a future where the human race now lives beyond Earth.  The Aria Federation, the space army of sorts, learns of an evil plot: someone is trying to obtain their best superweapon!  The Federation immediately commands eight mech pilots to hunt and destroy this terrorist.

Senko no Rondo DUO is a 2-player mech fighter where both characters navigate on a single plane.  Hits are dealt not through fists and feets, but through laser guns.  And LOTS of them.  Each character’s super-power practically turns them into a bullet-hell boss, switching the game from a 2-player shoot’em up to a bullet-dodging exercise.

Senko no Rondo DUO was released for Xbox 360 in Japan in 2010.  No US or European release has been made.
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Weekly Game Music: Glasgow Mega-Snake (Spec Ops: The Line)

New week, new music.  Ready for another melancholic music?  Here’s Glasgow Mega-Snake by the Scottish rock bad, Mogwai.  While it may initially sound like a generic rock music, the composition very quickly wades into an amazing mixture of sadness and rage.  A fitting music to this unexpectedly excellent brown shooter, Spec Ops: The Line.

Spec Ops: The Line is most famous for its Heart of Darkness (Joseph Conrad) inspired narrative: recon team Captain Martin Walker, Lieutenant Alphonse Adams, and Sergeant John Lugo receives a distress call from Colonel John Konrad, indicating that “evacuation of Dubai ended in complete failure.”  Considering Dubai was struck by the worst dust storm 6 months prior, this worries Captain Walker, and decides with his 3-man team to investigate on the matter.  Their mission?  Find any survivors, then message the US army for a safe evacuation.

If by looking at the concept art below, you thought that Spec Ops: The Line is a generic third-person shooter, well, you’d be right.  However, Spec Ops is more than that: it’s a devastating deconstruction of brown shooter themselves.  Intentionally hypocritical, the game rewards the player for acts that progressively gets worse and worse.  And considering the game is mostly linear, there’s little that the player can do, other than moan from something they have done.  As each of the characters get more shaken and delusional, the game does an excellent job reminding us what Post-Traumatic Disorder feels like.

Spec Ops: The Line was released on Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and PC in 2012.
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