Thursday, January 14, 2016

Underrated Games With Even More Underrated Soundtracks - Part Two

Generally on Mondays, I share five of my favorite themes from video games, whether old or new, retro or modern, popular or less appreciated. This series of articles focuses on the less appreciated. Not just games, but underrated games with even more underrated soundtracks. Perhaps these six new additions to this list will persuade you to try out these games, or at least give you some new soundtracks to enjoy!

For part one of this series of articles, look no further than this link.

Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts (360)

After Rare's teasing of a new 3D platformer featuring the lovable pair of Banjo and Kazooie, what fans like myself got instead was not what was expected. Rather than a game filled with platforming action, we received a much different game. Not to say Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts was a bad game by any stretch of the imagination. It was actually great, offering vehicle customization with the only limits being one's imagination, and varied objectives that could be handled in a multitude of ways. It just wasn't what fans were expecting of the bear and bird or Rare in general. The music was a welcomed collection of orchestrated Banjo-Kazooie medleys and new material, all done remarkably well.

Perfect Dark Zero (360)

The original Perfect Dark is my favorite first-person shooter of all time. I dig the old school, multi-layered level design with different approaches available for the different objectives each mission requires. Thus, you can probably imagine how hyped I was for the game's successor, Perfect Dark Zero. Single player-wise it disappointed, but the multiplayer, though not as good as the N64 game, offered expansive, layered maps, awesome team-based modes, a wide assortment of high-powered weaponry, and an announcer that might want to switch to decaf. The soundtrack had a different feel to it as well, whether it was the hard rock of some levels, the trance music inside a dance club, or the Arabian feel of later levels.

Sonic: Lost World (Wii U, Steam)

Sonic the Hedgehog entered the current generation with both a boom and a bust. Actually, those two words refer to Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric. I'm referring to Sonic: Lost World, a game that once again had Sonic Team reinventing the wheel instead of settling on a gameplay style that had a proven track record (looking at you, Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations). Regardless, Lost World ended up being an enjoyable romp for me, but it's hard to ignore its late game annoyances and control eccentricities. What is also hard to ignore is just how great the soundtrack is, a menagerie of catchy and locale-specific tunes. This is one soundtrack that gets regular plays in iTunes for me.

Mario Tennis Open (3DS)

While this game started the "less is less" approach with the Mario Tennis series that recently saw the extreme of such approach with the Wii U's Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash, the Nintendo 3DS title Mario Tennis Open offered some attractive tennis action mired for many by the inclusion of chance shots. Chance shots made it so when your opponent relayed a shot of yours, a colored cursor would appear on your side of the court, signaling where the ball would land and what kind of shot you should use to hit the ball back. Though turning the tennis gameplay into something more dumbed down, what wasn't dumbed down was the Motoi Sakuraba soundtrack, consisting of all-new themes and remixes from the Nintendo 64 version of Mario Tennis, my favorite tennis game to this day.

Star Fox: Assault (GCN)

This next soundtrack is for a game that gets a lot of flak from Star Fox enthusiasts. It makes sense, after waiting many years for a follow-up to Star Fox 64, what we got was a much more linear game with unwanted out-of-cockpit on-foot sections. That said, I happened to enjoy Star Fox: Assault for what it was, and something that made the game all the more amazing to me was hearing many familiar themes from Star Fox 64 and brand-new compositions given the orchestral treatment, something that was one of the first Nintendo titles to feature a full orchestra at the time.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters (SNES)

A fighting game starring characters from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic series? Yes, there was actually a thing back in the 90's, and it wasn't too shabby either! By far the most impressive part of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters aside from the competent gameplay and sick graphics was the excellently done soundtrack, full of great tunes to rock out and clobber opponents to. Nothing like giving a beefed up Rat King his just desserts while a rocking track plays in the background!

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