Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Gaming Historian Episode 9: Kirby


Another great series of videos from RetrowareTV. I very much encourage you to check the site out. It has a lot of fantastic stuff on display. Here is The Gaming Historians albeit look in brevity at the lovable pink puff, Kirby.

Friday, August 22, 2008

SuperPhillip's Top 100 Games of All Time

The end of the workweek is upon us, so it's time for five more of my favorite games of all time. I'm at the roadblock for next week as I really need to play some past titles that I've heard and read are great, but I've yet to play them. I don't really want to leave games like that out of my list, so I'm going to have to play some of them and see how much I appreciate them. I'm talking about games like The Orange Box, Shadow of the Colossus, God of War 2, Uncharted, Sly Cooper, Metal Gear Solid 4, Okami, and the list goes on. So if you don't see the list continuing, it's not because I've quit it. It just means I'm playing some more great games to possible add to the Top 100! Now without further ado...

As always:
The first ninety games are in NO particular order. For someone with OCD, compiling a list of 100 games in order would drive me absolutely crazy. There's a good mix of titles from multiple consoles, developers, and genres. Hope you leave this list with some fuzzy memories and good times.

- Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow (DS)

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Came the Dawn

Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow was the first Castlevania I was introduced to. It is also the very first Castlevania of the DS trilogy of games featuring Dawn of Sorrow, Portrait of Ruin, and the upcoming Order of Ecclesia. DoS showcased a beautiful mix of 2D and 3D graphics, wonderful action-platforming, great RPG mechanics, a masterful soundtrack, and a very addicting soul-catching interface where fallen enemies may sometimes leave their soul. Their soul gives you a certain power such as their attack strategy like a Skeleton's bone-throwing or extra defense and speed. I imagine if Symphony of the Night would have been my first Metroidvania-styled Castlevania game that it would be my personal favorite. However, Dawn of Sorrow takes that prestigious crown.

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- Mega Man X2 (SNES)

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Now With Midair Dash!

My favorite Mega Man series is the Mega Man X franchise. It took the action of the classic Mega Man, made it faster, made it more action-packed, and made it more difficult even with the luxury of being able to scale walls, gain new armor upgrades, and earn four refillable sub-tanks to restore X's health at any time. Mega Man X2 had more to do than the original. There were, of course, your standard collectible items such as the aforementioned sub-tanks, life-increasing heart tanks (one hidden in each of the eight Robot Masters' stages), armor upgrades such as the, then at that time, revolutionary midair dash which added a whole new dimension to the game. There was also three of former resistance hunter, Zero's parts to gather if one wanted to. Earning these was done by defeating each of three X-Hunters (Agile, Serges, and Violen) in random locations at random times in the Robot Masters' stages. Collecting all three would net you the good ending as opposed to the okay ending of the game. MMX2 remains one of my favorite Mega Man titles simply because it has excellent and inspired level design, a fantastic soundtrack, cool bosses, and a lot of replay value.

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- The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (GCN)

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Don't let the awesome look fool you.

Goodness gracious! It's yet another Zelda title on this list! I guess it's no secret that I love The Legend of Zelda franchise, is it? This time we're looking at The Wind Waker, and my, did it have a lot of controversy. Correct me if my memory is eluding me, but Spaceworld 2001 we saw a fully three-dimensional confrontation on Gamecube hardware between Link and the main villain of the series, Ganondorf. A year later and we get a new trailer. How awesome will this next trailer look? Would it be another scene from the same graphical style of last year? Not on our lives. What was shown was a cartoon cel-shaded version of Link portrayed an articulate, wonderfully animated face. Obviously, the fanbase was torn apart. There are some to this day that hail The Wind Waker's art style as a blemish on the series while others love it and wish more games in the series showcased more unique art styles. I'm in the latter camp.

To get the cons out of the way, the ocean was fun to explore but too big for its own good, and the triforce quest at the end of the game was ill-conceived. Other than that, this version of Hyrule was more expressive, felt more like a real world than any other Zelda game past or present. The animation of Link himself is magnificent and ranks as high as what you'd see in a Pixar film. It was just amazing and still is to this day. Everything was vibrant, colorful, the effects were fantastic, the models were lively, and the level design was brilliant. I'm making myself want to go back to play this masterpiece!!

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- Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes (GCN)

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Snake? Snake?!! SNAAA-- Oh, there you are.

The original Metal Gear Solid for the Playstation One was a fantastic albeit flawed game. The Gamecube remake, The Twin Snakes, developed by Silicon Knights (now infamously known as the company that is behind Too Human) made the game even better. Updated graphics, new voice acting, kickass cutscenes supervised by Hideo Kojima (wah, Snake ain't Jet Li, wah), new unlockables and easter eggs, and new play mechanics such as the first-person move and the ability to drop down floors-- a move pulled out of MGS2. It's difficult to listen to some criticisms from fanboys as their beefs are usually fueled from Snake reappearing on a Nintendo system and their irrational hatred for gaming and Nintendo, but others such as the game being a bit easier than the original (from more reasonable critics) are notable. I think the game is less difficult, but it certainly does NOT make it any less fun.

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- Dead Rising (X360)

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We're having a sale on zombies.

Dead Rising still is my favorite Xbox 360 game. Sure, you adrenaline-junkies and acne-faced, racial slur-spitting, asshole-portraying males from ages 8-25 can enjoy your Gears of Wars and your Halos and your Bald Marines With Guns Shooter Part 57, but I will escape to Williamette Mall, don a trenchcoat, grease my already oily hair, load film into my camera, and bash some zombie brains with my good old friend, Frank West, from our war-covering days.

Dead Rising is hit or miss it seems with some gamers. Some love the time-limit, some hate it. Some are okay with the idiotic "I need babysitting" survivors, some think it's completely asinine. Some people like continuing to demolish horde after horde of flesh-craving zombies while others hate the repetition the game offers. I thoroughly enjoyed almost every minute of my time with the game. The story was compelling, the psychopaths were disturbing, the characters were interesting enough, and the gameplay was spot-on most often than not. A Wii version will be coming out this winter, but who knows if taking the time limit out and putting the game on a less capable machine will make the game work as well or at all? Rest assured, I'll be there with a full review!

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We'll see if we'll see the Top 100 next week! Stay tuned for week-daily updates!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Metal Slug 7 (DS) U.S. Trailer

This trailer is two weeks old, but it's my first time seeing it. Maybe it will be your first time too. Metal Slug 7 hits the DS November 18th in North American territories and sometime in September for Europeans.

Here are some impressions from friendly importer and NeoGAF user, Dash Kappei!

As expected, the game feel a lot more like Metal Slug DS than the Metal Slug number 7 it's been titled by SNK PlaYmore.

It's easily the best handheld Metal Slug out there, but maybe playing Anthology on PSP from a memory stick (no loading) beats it, never tried it so I won't compare... but I was a lot more confortable with DS d-pad for the game then PSP's one, that's for sure but it all comes down to personal preferences.

Graphically there's a lot of good to the game and some fail.

The main gripe it's due to the machine hardware much more than a lacking effort by the developer: the screen resolution makes for too tiny characters and a lot of jaggies... but it's still all there and Metal Slug's charm is definitely retained.

For the first 5 levels I've played I'd say slowdowns are almost non-existent, framerate could be smoother though.


Difficulty wise there's definitely a challenge here (3 difficulty levels, dunno about unlockables) and I applaud the choice to give the player only a limited amount of continues (9 for beginner, 4 for Normal and just 2 for Hard) and you have 6 characters to choose from (Marco, Eri, Tarma, Clark, Ralf and Fio) along the usual dual slot for selectable guns like the latter games in the franchise.
On the way to unlocking the first 5 levels you'll be able to use any one of them as the starting point for your own adventure, minus the last 2 levels, so there's a total of 7 levels.

Visually I don't like the choice, a bit like Slug 6, to go with prerendered background since DS limited capabilitis make for an even poorer color palette and grainy graphics, but under a gameplay point of view it definitely help DS's screen to make enemies and bullets easy to spot (so it makes a lot more sense here than for the arcade chapters).

The game doesn't use any of DS unique capabilities but I'm not complaining, leave this action classic alone, even if I have to admit a more clever use of the 2nd screen (showing a useless minimap) would've been appreciated and, dare I say, expected.

Apart from that it's the usual godly Slug's fanfair with humour, great 2D art and animations, motherfuggin' big bosses and all that... I'm happy the franchise graced Nintendo's hendheld and it's worth your cash if you're looking for portable Slug action and you don't have a PSP/don't like Anthology PSP or you can't get enough of Metal Slug for the get-go.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Hot Shots Golf: Out of Bounds (PS3) Review

Yes. The missing link in Golf Week has finally arrived! Is it better than We Love Golf (8.75)? Let's find out!!


I'm shankin' it!

Before there was Mario Golf, We Love Golf, Outlaw Golf, Bill and Ted's Excellent Golf (I believe I made this one up), and the bounty of all the other arcade-styled golf titles in the gaming landscape, there was the original Hot Shots Golf for the Playstation One. Numerous platforms and sequels later, and the Hot Shots franchise has finally entered "next-gen" with the arrival of Hot Shots Golf: Out of Bounds for the Playstation 3. Throughout the decade the series hasn't had too many radical departures from previous entries. You could say that each game tries to stay as close to the highly regarded formula as possible, playing it safe. Out of Bounds takes playing it safe to a whole new level, but does this philosophy work in 2008?

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Take a shot and hope you don't kill someone!

Right away when you step into the clubhouse of Hot Shots Golf 5, you'll notice that there isn't that much of an array of options or modes to select from. I don't see the logic in having a series enter the current generation of consoles and stripping away the many features of past installments (see Madden). It's as if the developer thought that gamers wouldn't need all those "bothersome" modes because they have those sweet "uber-graphics" now! No. Wrong. Incorrect. That's garbage. We expect a lot more since you can fit more on a Blu-ray than you can a DVD or a Laserdisc or whatever the hell game consoles used last generation!

So with that said, HSG5 skimps on the options. The majority of your playtime will be spent in the Challenge Mode. This mode has players selecting from a variety of tournaments to participate in each with differing winning and weather conditions. Some are 9 hole, some are 18 hole, some are front-tee, some are back-tee, some will have high wind, some will have constant rain, some will penalize you for landing in a bunker or the rough, etc. These varying challenges are great and all, but when you realize there are, without downloading any new courses for approximate five or six bucks, there's only a half-dozen courses to play through. You don't even get to play the second course until you pass the first level of challenges. This means you'll be constantly playing through a course again and again and again and again and ag-- okay, I will stop now, but you get the idea. By completing challenges in certain difficulty level you'll gain the ability to take on the, what I'm calling it, boss character in a match play competition. Outplay the character and not only will you be able to move onto the next golf bag-load of challenges, but you'll also unlock that character to play as whenever you please. Additionally, completing a challenge earns you the chance to choose from six random prize cards. These unveil new equipment like upgraded clubs, balls, and new caddies. Unfortunately, there's no option to accessorize your characters-- a feature that the freaking PSP games have.

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The caddy definitely looks like former Minnesota governor Jesse "The Body" Ventura.

Something that the newest installment of the PSP line of games has but Out of Bounds still bests is the online mode for those with a suitable connection. You select an avatar made up of hairstyles and costumes (additional costumes can be earned by completing in-game goals like hole-in-ones and long putts). You then can enter a lounge of other players, waltz around going after girl avatars (more like G.I.R.L. avatars), text chat with folks in the room, and play online games and tournaments. These tournaments can be played with up to an impressive fifty contenders... if you can find fifty contenders... You play with each shot of yours is timed so your party doesn't have to wait up for your sorry self. Go back to the minors if you have to take a minute to sink a two-foot putt, pal! At the climax of each hole, your score is posted on the leaderboard to compare with others. Just don't be surprised to see the incredible Japanese players dominating higher tournaments. Yeah, they got game. Regardless of who and where you play, you have at least one thing in common with everyone else-- you have no voice chat. An adrenaline-packed game like Call of Duty 4 where jacked up 14 year-olds can call you racial slurs and combine fifty curse words into one sentence as if they're clever has voice chat, yet a nice, sometimes relaxing game of golf is deprived of this. I would simply say to people, "Cheerio, old boy. Good shot. You'll get them next time, by George!"

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Being in the rough means you have to hit it harder than from the fairway to compensate.

And good shots will come and bad shots will come, too. There's so much to consider when playing a round of HSG. What's my lie? What's the wind velocity? Will my club trajectory be ruined by the wind? What is the slope of the green? Is it fast? Is it slow? Am I hitting on a slope? Do I need to hit harder since I'm in the bunker? What was that one funny scene with Bill Murray in Caddyshack? Oh, hell, they were all funny! Things like that will enter a serious player's mind.

The traditional three-click swing interface has returned. For those uninformed, the standard swing mechanic in most golf titles is pressing a button once to start the swing meter, once to stop it at the opposite end to determine the power of your swing, and once more when it returns to its original position to measure the impact which affects how straight your shot will be. You can hold the d-pad in various directions while setting up your shot to enable topspin, backspin, slice, hooks, fades, shades, blades, and kickassery. Now perhaps I made some of those up, but the explanation still stands. The newest addition to this entry is the new swing mechanic which actually emulates your golfer's swing. Instead of watching the meter, you actually watch your golfer. When your golfer swings back halfway, that's 50% of your club's power. When he or she swing back to a full arc, that's 100% of your club's power. The trick is estimating other percentages to make more difficult shots such as approaches and putts which are easier to make with the traditional interface. However, the benefit of the new mechanic is that you'll gain extra yardage from your shots (approximately 20-30 more yards). Both systems have pros and cons to them, and it's up to the player to decide which would benefit them on a given course with a given golfer.

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There's nothing in a golf game than seeing those words... Be proud of your shot!

You see, there's fifteen golfers readily available by the time the player marches through the many levels of the Challenge Mode. Each golfer has their own strengths and weaknesses. Novice golfers can't hit as far as expert golfers can, but with expert golfers the margin for error on the impact of a shot is much greater and can be damning if that meter isn't stopped in the split-second needed for a good shot. Certain characters are better in rough than others but they aren't particularly fond of bunkers. Some characters play well in the rain while others' skills are diminished when wet. Each golfer has their own attitude, funny taunts and animations, golfing and fashion style, short back story (via loading screens) and strengths and weaknesses. Currently there's three more characters that can be purchased from the PSN store including brooding God of War hero, Kratos, in stellar form.

What isn't quite in stellar form are the visuals. The environments on most courses are barren and static, and trees and other objects don't seem to be affected by the wind whatsoever. Hot Shots Golf: Out of Bounds isn't the most marveling technical or graphical achievement on the PS3, but it does have its moments. The overall look of the game, albeit quite simple in most aspects, is very sleek and clear. Character models are wonderfully detailed and come to life with great animation and personality. Audio-wise, series composer Gon Ohtsuji does an admirable job of creating tracks that aren't grating, yet at the same time aren't too memorable this time around even after playing the game's six courses ad nauseum.

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This is one of only six courses (that are free).

Hot Shots Golf: Out of Bounds is a mixed experience. On one hand you have the same excellent gameplay from previous chapters in the series. On the other you have the same excellent gameplay from previous chapters in the series with less courses than past installments including the latest PSP version with 12 courses, no off-the-wall modes that arcade golfers expect such as Ring Shot, Balloon Pop, and even Miniature Golf, less than expected graphics for the Playstation 3, and a frustrating, less forgiving game in later stages. Those who have played past Hot Shots Golf games will feel at home, but at the same time they might be expecting more from the Cell processor than what Clap Hanz has given us. The team really isn't worth too much applause this time around considering you'd think a full-fledged PS3 game would derive more pleasure from me and options than several less-powerful PSP, PS2, and Wii games of the same genre.

[SuperPhillip Says]

Graphics: Pretty pleasing to the eye, but the overly critical reviewer in me says that there could have been a lot done better.

Gameplay: You'll fall right into the simplicity of the traditional controls. The newer controls may take some getting used to-- a lot of getting used to.

Sound: Nice voices and charming music.

Replay Value: There are six courses spread out among over 100 challenges in Challenge Mode. There's also a well-constructed online mode to play either alone or with friends.

Overall: 7.75/10 - Disappointing considering Hot Shots Golf Fore introduced me to this wonderful franchise. There's just too little content for sixty bucks.

God of War is Nothing. God of Golf is More Impressive!

This is perfect timing since tonight's newest review is actually Hot Shots Golf: Out of Bounds for the Playstation 3. Go figure how that one worked out. Yep, Kratos will be the newest character added to the game!

HSG Kratos

Yes, all the rumors are true: Kratos, the one and only, has made his way to Hot Shots Golf… and he’s looking to claim his rightful seat as the God of Golf!

In all honesty, integrating Kratos into Hot Shots Golf was by far one of the best experiences, as we got to work closely with the God of War team and the casts of characters (voice over, animators, etc) that created Kratos in his original form.

If I had to pick one of the most fun parts, it would have to be our VO sessions and watching (listening?) T.C. Carson jump into the Kratos role in a completely new environment… trust me, there were plenty of eye-watering-side-splitting laughs that day…

But aside from VO, the Clap Hanz team paid a great deal of attention to all of Kratos’ characteristics when animating him and hi chain-drivers.

So starting this Thursday, Kratos will make his way down to your local PS3 via download. You can take him out to a nice single player round offline and once you’ve mastered his technique, give it a go online against all the puny mortals that dare defy you.

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WipEout HD (PSN) New Trailer

Wow, when it rains it pours! There's been a lot of games that I'm interested that are revealing new information over the past two days. It's like there's a gaming convention going on in Leipzig, Germany or something.

Nonetheless, a new trailer (albeit of shoddy quality) from the Playstation Blog.

WipEout HD will feature a selection of the best tracks taken from previous versions of this iconic franchise that have been reworked to show-off the graphical capabilities of PS3...

...WipEout HD will give you the chance to take on the greatest anti-grav racers in the world with plenty of online racing modes and even offline too, with HD’s two-player split-screen mode. Up to 8 racers can battle online in a range of online races. And with Trophy Support (whuuuuuut, Trophy support, you say?!?), which I know everyone is really excited about, this is definitely your chance to grab bragging rights online. More to come on Trophies soon, don’t you worry….

WipEout HD WipEout HD

And for an additional challenge in WipEout HD, you can opt to use the SIXAXIS motion controls to steer their ship while blasting away opponents with the full arsenal of weapons. With lots of teams/ships to choose from, plenty of on and offline racing modes, crazy-fast HD racing and a remixed Dolby 5.1 surround sound soundtrack, your adrenaline will be pumping in no time. Trust me. And even though we think you’ll love the soundtrack, but in case you love your own music collection more, you can create a custom playlist on the PS3 XMB and listen to it while you race. Niiiiiiiice, right?!

WipEout HD WipEout HD WipEout HD WipEout HD

For more game info check out www.WipEoutHD.com. We’ll be back with more on WipEout HD in the coming weeks, including the details on trophies, price, and release date - see keep your eyes peeled for more here on the PS Blog!


My Prayers Have Been Answered-- Kororinpa 2 (Wii)!

Info breakdown from GoNintendo.

- 4 player mode
- Level Editor (share levels via WC24 once game is beaten)
- Design your own ball
- use Mii as a ball
- balance board support
- 10 stages for balance board, 100 for Wiimote control
- story added concerning an ant’s quest for a sunflower seed
- Konami publishing in Europe, first quarter 2009

Far Cry 2 (X360, PS3, PC) Developer Walkthrough - Map Maker

Oh, my goodness. This looks so unbelievably cool. I'm a sucker for map makers, so my interest is increased for Far Cry 2 via this vid. Mapmakers can share their creations cross-platform meaning that a PC gamer can download a PS3 owner's map. Pretty sweet, huh?

Introducing... The Happy Video Game Nerd

Well, he's at least been introduced to me. I saw his review of the Genesis classic (which I need to play now that I think of it...), Rocket Knight Adventures. I always was interested in Sparkster when I saw his game in an early nineties issue of Nintendo Power. Regardless, unlike AVGN, HVGN doesn't really rely on excessive offensive language as a comedic crutch. Don't get me wrong, I still occasionally enjoy AVGN, but randomly taking curse words and objects from a kettle and forming them into a sentence isn't witty regardless of whether or not it's comedy.

Enough about my opinion about AVGN, I'm here to speak of HVGN! Huzzah! Check out his newest video seen here and enjoy!

P.S. Don't worry as this won't be the only blog entry of Wednesday!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

My Most Anticipated 360 Title Goes From Must Buy to Must Preorder

Ready your spring-loaded propeller boat and fasten your seatbelt, “Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts” is hitting U.S. store shelves on November 14, and pre-orders begin today. For the retail price of $39.99, those who pre-order at participating retailers will get in on all the Banjo fun right off the starting line, and as a special bonus, will also receive a free download code for the original “Banjo-Kazooie,” launching on Xbox LIVE Arcade later this fall.

As Kazooie likes to say, “The early bird gets the worm.” Since the original “Banjo-Kazooie” will not debut on Xbox LIVE Arcade until a couple weeks after “Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts” releases, pre-ordering the game gives you a two-week head start on the Arcade title and the opportunity to take advantage of “Stop N’ Swop” before anyone else. “Stop N’ Swop” rewards players’ accomplishments in the new game with extra content and features in the Xbox LIVE Arcade game, giving fans who pre-order “Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts” the chance to experience more Banjo action than ever.

Heck, why don't I just bold everything?
You can check out the full press release as well as several new screenies here: http://www.worthplaying.com/article.php?sid=54925


And for those on the fence about exploring bear and bird's long-awaited adventure should check out Eurogamer's latest hands-on!

Click Here

Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts hits North America November 14th, a week after Gears of War 2.

The House of the Dead: Overkill Announced for Wii

The game is a Wii-exclusive, and it comes to us as a SEGA-produced, Headstrong Games-developed light gun shooter full of blood, gore, and glorious zombies. For those unfamiliar with Headstrong, they used to be known as Kuju who developed both Battalion Wars games for the Gamecube and Wii respectively. The House of the Dead: Overkill will slay Wii owners some time next year.

Monday, August 18, 2008

SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs - Where the Heck's That Last Golf Review?!

I've been particularly busy (as well as lazy with the blog) this past weekend. I announced a review for this Saturday, but plans got in the way. Thanks for everyone for their concern and sympathy towards this matter. Rest assured, the review will be here this week along with one or two others, so no worries! Now, let's get to five more VGMs, eh?

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"A Longing to Ancient Times - PART I" is the theme of the very first area of Phantasy Star Online Episode II. It's set in a majestic and beautiful outdoor temple surrounded by water and clear skies.



Go! Go! Go, go, Mike!
Go! Go! Go, go, Mike!

This is the Super Smash Bros. Brawl version of the WarioWare: Touched! track, Mike's Song! This track was arranged by Masafumi Takada who is best known for his work on the Killer7 and No More Heroes soundtracks. Enjoy.

Original footage by UndergroundAirport.



Motoi Sakuraba is probably THE busiest composer in the game industry. Don't believe me? Take a look at his credits. Just amazing how he can churn out all of this good music for so many different games.

Regardless, here's one of his tracks, the battle theme from Eternal Sonata, "Leap the Precipice". It's quite, quite good. Hope you enjoy it as well.



This is another game (Xenosaga) that I have never played (the amount of cutscenes turned me off), but I could appreciate the soundtrack composed by none other than Yasunori Mitsuda of Chrono fame.




Star Fox Assault is honestly one of my favorite soundtracks period. I was blown away that Nintendo had the majority of tracks orchestrated as opposed to synthesized. This song is yet another battle theme (I guess I'm partial to those) of the final battle with the boss of the game.



Direct Link - Longing to Ancient Times - PART I
Direct Link - Mike's Song
Direct Link - Leap the Precipice
Direct Link - Last Battle
Direct Link - Queen Battle 2

That is all from my personal favorite VGMs, but you can always check out my Youtube channel for past as well as future blog editions! See you then!

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