Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Underrated Games With Even More Underrated Soundtracks - Part Six

Fresh off the heels of yesterday's SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs, we have a new edition of Underrated Games With Even More Underrated Soundtracks -- part six, if you're playing along at home! The title sort of gives away what these articles are about, but for background purposes, I love listening to and sharing music of all kinds, and yes, that includes video game music. I also have a passion for spreading the word on underrated games, as evident by the dozens of Most Overlooked articles posted on SuperPhillip Central over the years.

Join me for part six, which includes games like Yooka-Laylee, Xenoblade Chronicles X, and Anarchy Reigns. To check out past parts of this ongoing article series, here are some convenient links for you!

Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five

Yooka-Laylee (Multi)

The first game I'm going to talk about on this edition is Yooka-Laylee, which was a dream come true for me, a critic who lists Banjo-Kazooie as one of his favorite games of all time. After all, Yooka-Laylee was crafted by many of the minds behind the aforementioned Rare classic. Yep, a good deal of the staff from Banjo left Rare to create their own studio, Playtonic Games, and they even got the Banjo-Kazooie series' composer, Grant Kirkhope, to accentuate the game world with terrific tunes. On a game standpoint, I didn't have the expectation or even the hope that Yooka and Laylee's first outing would be better than Banjo and Kazooie's freshman adventure like many fans desired, so thankfully, I had kept my expectations in check so the numerous faults in Yooka-Laylee wouldn't sour me on the whole package. Issues included: launch problems like a rough to control camera, bugs, and glitches were only toppings to the game's actual design, such as very annoying segments in the game, horrid mini-games, and some questionable boss battles. BUT quite honestly, there is some terrific platforming challenges here, most of the worlds are enjoyable to explore, and moving Yooka around feels pleasant. I can't be overly disappointed in this foundation that is set by the Playtonic crew.

Xenoblade Chronicles X (Wii U)

By virtue of simply being on the Wii U -- a console that didn't inspire a lot of confidence in the market, hence its lackluster sales -- Xenoblade Chronicles X launched the final major year of Wii U software releases. Many had either moved on from the Wii U (well, those 14 million or so who bought one) or already sold the system after feeling intense buyer's remorse. While the original Xenoblade featured a more classical, fantasy-like soundtrack to it, featuring music from Yoko Shimomura and ACE+, Xenoblade Chronicles X went with a much more sci-fi escapade and a soundtrack to back the adventure. Hiroyuki Sawano, known for his impressive catalog of anime soundtracks, composed the music for the game. The camps of players of Xenoblade Chronicles X that loved the soundtrack and hated the soundtrack are both vocal, but as one who enjoyed the game, I say Sawano did a fantastic job, even if some really bad, cheesy tunes were a part of the soundtrack.

Anarchy Reigns (PS3, 360)

After the failure of MadWorld to ignite the gaming world on fire on the Wii, a spiritual successor featuring many of the characters from the Wii exclusive came to existence, the multiplatform Anarchy Reigns. This was an early work in Platinum Games' enviable library of titles, a time where Platinum Games did excellent on average with fan and critic acclaim, but their games didn't sell anywhere near what they deserved (at least in my belief). Anarchy Reigns suffered from this same issue, though the game didn't have nearly as much gaming world fanfare as Bayonetta, Vanquish, Metal Gear Rising, and so forth. A beat 'em up brawler where things in the environment like stop signs, tires, and even more vicious means to inflict violence could be used as weapons or at least accessories to murder. The soundtrack followed MadWorld's style, going with a hip-hop, rap, and rock styled song selection, fitting for taking it to anyone who stands in your way. Just don't cut yourself on the edge.

Jet Force Gemini (N64)

Remnants of Rare already appeared on this list, so how about a game from the actual developer Rare itself? That's why I'm bringing in my absolute favorite Nintendo 64 soundtrack from an incredibly underrated third-person shooter, Jet Force Gemini. The music came with something as close to a sci-fi epic with its bombastic, intense soundtrack than anything else on the Nintendo 64. The team of Robin Beanland, Graeme Norgate, and Alistair Lindsay definitely made the alien worlds of Jet Force Gemini all the more tense, mysterious, foreign, and escalating in stakes with their complementary compositions. Jet Force Gemini launched in September, unfortunately in the shadow of the upcoming Donkey Kong 64. As history has shown, Donkey Kong 64 is a complicated collect-a-thon and Jet Force Gemini needed more attention. YOU BLEW IT, NINTENDO 64 OWNERS!

Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam (3DS)

Many Mario RPG fans routinely show disappointment over the games moving on from a surplus of RPG-originated characters to a far more limited range of just Mario's friends and foes from the Mushroom Kingdom. This became a problem in the Paper Mario series, but early last year it also infected the Mario & Luigi series with Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam. The game's a fun adventure with its still fun, still engaging means of exploring maps, context-sensitive turn-based battles, and of course, the main point behind these articles, its music, penned by Yoko Shimomura, who I brought up briefly when talking about Xenoblade Chronicles' soundtrack. The playful nature of the Mushroom Kingdom world reveals itself through the composer's jaunty themes, while also bringing some dread into the air during key moments of the game. Yoko Shimomura's Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam soundtrack made it almost worth it to find all of those darn Toads!

Ittle Dew 2 (Multi)

We finish this edition up with an indie game! We don't see too much of those on this segment due to there being such a vast amount of indie games to play and little time to do so. I have to very much pick and choose what I play due to my own self-imposed deadline of having a certain amount of games reviewed each month. Now, that that boring stuff is out of the way... let's talk Ittle Dew 2! This is a game in the spirit of the overhead 2D Zeldas, but it absolutely does not take itself seriously at any time. Of course, the Zelda series often brings levity and humor in the form of outrageous, bizarre, and memorable side characters, but Ittle Dew 2 is on another level and does this even when you least expect it, such a signpost of all things. The music of Ittle Dew 2 has some really catchy melodies and rhythms to them that stick with you long after you've turned off your PS4, Xbox One, PC, or (soon-to-be) Switch. Many indies fail to have that effect on me, but Ittle Dew 2 definitely pulled through.

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