Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Sour Games, Sweet Soundtracks

Games are a legitimate form of entertainment. Unfortunately, just like every other medium, there's more garbage than good out there. Sometimes you get a really bad game whose only saving grace is that it has a stellar soundtrack to accompany it. These following four games are just that. Marred by technical and/or fundamental problems, these titles only have a great soundtrack to bail them out and be remembered by.

Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) (PS3, 360)

Quite possibly the worst game I have ever purchased, I must have been painfully curious to just how bad 2006's reboot of the Sonic the Hedgehog series really was. Let me tell you that it was as bad as people say (save for Play Magazine who gave the game a 9 for dubious reasons). If your idea of fun is glitching through platforms, fighting a wonky camera, battling super poor collision detection, taking on hellish mach speed sections, boring, empty hubs, and sitting through a cringe-inducing story of hedgehogs kissing human girls (yes, your reaction probably mirrors my own), then party hearty, my friend. For everyone else, at least you can enjoy the soundtrack... pending you get past the first abortion of an act.

To be more positive, the soundtrack is one of the year 2006's best. Tomoyo Ohtani, Mariko Nanba, and Hideaki Kobayashi combine their musical talents to create the only thing sensational about this otherwise punishing to play game. I have hand-selected some of the game's better themes. Some songs have the classic rock riffs that fans of Sonic Adventure and on have grown to love while others go for a cinematic feel like Crisis City and Kingdom Valley.

Final Fantasy XIII (PS3, 360)

Now this is a game that seems to be either love it or hate it. It really depends on your personal experience with the game. Regardless, some did not enjoy the extremely linear gameplay, slow to unravel story, and episodic structure of Final Fantasy XIII. Then there's the story. It is not so much the narrative but the execution. There are plenty of groans and moans to be had if you wish to sit through this title and live to tell about it. At least the combat has something for everyone. I'm in the camp that likes the game, but I added it to this list to appease the critics. This is only going to happen this time, so you haters better be grateful.

Masashi Hamauzu and Ryo Yamazaki take over the composing duties for Final Fantasy XIII. They had big shoes to fill with past efforts by the genius that is Nobuo Uematsu (Final Fantasy I-XI) and Hitoshi Sakimoto (Final Fantasy XII and Final Fantasy Tactics). They certainly-- to put it in baseball terms-- knocked one out of the park with their stirring compositions. From the outstanding battle themes to more character-driven pieces, there's a lot to love about Final Fantasy XIII's soundtrack, even if the game doesn't appeal to you.

Shadow the Hedgehog (PS2, GCN, XBX)

While I didn't like the angle Sonic Team took with Shadow the Hedgehog, I thought the game was perfectly playable. In fact I went so far as to get all of the highest ranks on every level and beat the game on Super Hard mode. Sure, there's a lot to be put off by in this game-- a foul-mouthed hedgehog armed with guns (but the guns meant you didn't need to use the not so reliable at the time homing attack), a plot that made little sense, and vehicles in the form of bikes. Depending on choices during each level, you progressed either the hero way, the neutral way, or the evil way. There were six final levels you could go to pending your decisions and twelve possible endings. Unlocking them all was the only way to see the true ending and face the true final boss.

Jun Senoue went with a darker sounding score for Shadow the Hedgehog. Some songs were death metal, some were grunge, while others weren't in the category of rock at all. If you like any instrument from the guitar family, you are bound to like something from the Shadow the Hedgehog soundtrack.

Mega Man X6 (PS1)

The worst in a series that took a massive downturn (X7 was not top-shelf material and X8 wasn't the best the franchise had to offer either, though it was good at least), Mega Man X6 was the lowest point in the X line of games. With horrible, sometimes even lazy level design (who thought it would be a great idea to have X or Zero face the same boss 4-6 times in the same level?), a back of the box that flat-out lied about features, and no dubbed voices, Mega Man X6 came out almost a year after the not too bad Mega Man X5. To say the game was rushed out the door would be an understatement. Plus, I hated the lack of localized boss names, a trend which started with X5. Regardless, we'll always have the memories of the music such as the best Mega Man boss theme in Sigma 2nd to soothe us out of our "irritated from playing this game" state.


My turn is up, so it's now your turn to share. What games have you played that you didn't exactly find fun but had an excellent soundtrack? Let your opinion be heard/read in the comments section.

1 comment:

Reggie White Jr. said...

Awesome post! I've been thinking about doing a post like this one on my own blog but you took it a step further by doing select tracks from entire games.

I have a good chunk of music from Shadow the Hedgehog and Sonic 06 on my MP3 player as well as Mega Man X6. Haven't played FFXIII yet or heard it's music but I've long been a fan of Masashi Hamauzu and Ryo Yamazaki is also a fine composer.