Gaming Vibes Playlist #2

In a surprising turn of events, I spent nearly as much time this weekend watching others play video games on Twitch as I did myself. I made the ever-elusive social appearance during Later Level’s Great Blog Crawl 2020 on Saturday and had a great time hanging out with others from around our WordPress gaming community. I also spent a fair amount of time watching other fellow blogger/streamers over the weekend play a variety of games. In a NOT-SO-surprising turn of events, I didn’t have a whole lot lined up for blog posts this weekend. It’s been a few months since the last blog post with a random list of gaming(or related) music so, for today’s blog post I have created yet another list of music I’ve been listening to over the past weekend.

Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla – Out of the North

A new EP titled Assassin’s Creed Valhalla – Out of the North was released the end of last week. Fans of the long-running franchise were excited to see Sarah Schachner – composer of the Assassin’s Creed: Origins soundtrack and the return of Jesper Kyd – composer of the first four games in the AC series. The EP begins with the title track – Out of the North, which starts off very calmly before building to a conclusion. I’m really loving the instrumentation of the songs and the slow, thundering drums as you can almost see Viking longboats rowing across the icy North Atlantic.

Ghost of Tsushima – Jin Sakai

I really like the way the track slowly begins with a flute and stringed instruments(Koto and Biwa) as the drums and bass strings lock into the same rhythm underneath as you can envision samurai warrior Jin Sakai traveling across the fields of pampas grass and bamboo forests of Tsushima. Another selection that stays relatively mid-tempo yet still feels wholly dramatic.

Sonic 2 – Aquatic Ruin Zone

As I’ve been messsing around with doing some streaming on Twitch here and there, I ordered an adapter to converting the signal from composite inputs to an HDMI source to use with the capture card I bought a while back. As part of my experimental process of ironing out some input lag and adjusting audio levels, I popped a copy of Sonic 2 into my old Sega Genesis, still one of my all-time favorites. I love the entire iconic soundtrack, but the level soundtrack that remained in my head throughout the rest of the day was the music from level 3 – Aquatic Ruins.

Banjo-Kazooie – Click Clock Wood

Another game that I started a playthrough over the weekend is Banjo-Kazooie, a game I’ve mentioned….numerous times. I love Grant Kirkhope’s quirky instrumentation in using percussion instruments like marimbas and xylophones. Of course, there’s banjos and even the occasional tuba. One of the later levels in the game, Click Clock Wood is set in a forest and is divided between four separate seasons with the soundtrack reflecting the change in respective seasons. I had actually forgotten about the accompanying soundtrack in Click Clock Wood until I was playing the game and mentioned some of my favorite level soundtracks in the game before seeking it out with warm, fuzzy feelings of nostalgia instantly returning.

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask – Astral Observatory(Piano cover)

Another rabbit hole I descended into over the weekend was listening to music from different Zelda games, somewhere along the line I started not only listening to the OSTs, but also came across a number of remixes on YouTube. Here is a calming piano mix of the Astral Observatory theme from Majora’s Mask, one of my favorite pieces of music from any video game. A perfect track for nighttime stargazing.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – Lost Woods(Dubstep mix)

I’d be lying if I said that I listened to much of anything with the word ‘Dubstep’ attached to it, but this came up while listening to some different Zelda remixes, and….it’s honestly quite awesome and was pleasantly surprised at how much I like it(blaming you, Solarayo).

That’s all for now, what have you been listening to over the weekend while gaming or just hanging out at home? Let me know and thanks for reading!

Link’s Awakening – First Impressions

The Link’s Awakening remake has been out for nearly a day and a half and I felt compelled to write out some of my thoughts on the game so far, it being far easier to express as a blog post than a rambling series of tweets. I have only played for a few hours and through a couple dungeons, but I can already tell this remake is something special.

Taking BowWow for a walk!

Ever since Nintendo announced they were remaking The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening during the February Direct I knew I was going to play this game(bold proclamation, I know). I was cautiously optimistic after seeing the announcement video showing a shipwrecked Link on the shores of Koholint Island; the animation style they decided to use which shows the environments and character models as glossy, cartoony, and look as though they are made from plastic. After watching more gameplay coverage as we approached release date I went from thinking, “I’m sure I’ll play it” to “I’m gonna buy it IMMEDIATELY” as I became more and more hyped for what could be dismissed as simply a remake of a 26-year old Game Boy game. In the meantime I played through the original Game Boy version of the game in anticipation as I had never played through the game before and wrote a blog post of my thoughts after completing if you care to read. I found myself really enjoying the original Game Boy version so much it made me even more excited to see what Nintendo would do in the remake.

I am thoroughly impressed with the work by Nintendo’s team and especially with that of developer Grezzo, who has helped in developing the solid 3D remasters of Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask for the 3DS. The game is pretty faithful to the original version, but added in some modern conveniences such as no longer spending much of your time going between actually playing the game and pressing the Start button to manage your inventory(as you could only carry two items at the same time) or the seemingly complicated way of saving your progress( pressing B, A, Start, and Select at the SAME TIME), whereas now you simply open up your inventory screen and select Save, nearly identical to Breath of the Wild.

If you’ve read anything about Link’s Awakening in the past few months, I’m sure a significant portion of it is about the visual style of the game, whether the animation style or the interesting camera angle being used in the game. You have also been inundated by descriptions of the game using the words ADORABLE, CHARM, or DIORAMA, and while the game is all of those things(it’s soooo cute!) I will simply say that this game looks, really, really good! Everything from the texture of the grass and trees to the shimmery sparkle of the water on Koholint Island is great. I walked past a tree that had three apples hanging from it and didn’t even realize I tried to shake the tree to pick up the apples as if it was an Animal Crossing game, there’s my assessment of the game I guess – “Zelda meets Animal Crossing!” Another interesting feature of the game is how it appears as if it’s being viewed through a camera lens with the focus always on Link and around the outer edges of the screen it appears to be a slightly blurred out-of-focus effect. This certainly adds to the unique charm(damn! I said it) and almost gives the perspective of the game being viewed through a set of nostalgia goggles, which I find ironic and clever, given the game series and company behind it 😉

Where am I??

The music of the game perfectly compliments the visual style and overall mood of the game, the music is taken directly from the original game but the updated orchestral overtures greatly enhance the whimsical feeling of the game. While playing, the music provides both a sense of adventure as well as feeling of calmness and relaxation that really reminds me of old Nick Jr. shows like Little Bear or Max and Ruby – I’m surely not the ONLY one to remember those old cartoons, right?

The game mechanics are as fluid and responsive as ever and improved by having dedicated sword and shield buttons. I picked up Roc’s Feather already and excited to try it out in combination with the Pegasus Boots so I can jump over distances that had previously shown just a bit too far, there’s still Bomb Arrows and a Hookshot to have fun with too! I feel obligated to mention probably my favorite mini-game in Zelda games(or most others) – fishing. The fishing was super enjoyable in the original and is looking to be just as relaxing. One of the biggest surprises after bringing home Link’s Awakening was the fact that I was able to pop the nasty tasting little cartridge into my Switch and I was able to play the game IMMEDIATELY without any sort of patch or update first….cuz’ back in my day(angrily shakes cane)….

Gone fishin’

I know many have had issues with the frame rate dropping a little bit when progressing between screens, but I haven’t had anything happen yet, or just not noticeable enough. I guess maybe it could be that I haven’t come across the Pegasus Boots yet, so when attempting to move a bit quicker it can start to affect the frame rate(?). I guess I’ll have to keep an eye out for that. Another issue I’ve seen a few bring up on Twitter is the fact that Nintendo is charging a full $60 for a remake, and of probably the shortest Zelda title at that. That seems to be the only real drawbacks to the game I’m aware of for anyone still on the fence about buying the game. I do very highly recommend it as the definitive version of the game to play if you have the chance. I’m really really enjoying the Link’s Awakening remake so far and may end up as one of the favorite games of 2019. That’s about all for now, what are your thoughts on Link’s Awakening from what you’ve seen or played so far? Let me know in the comments below. I’m gonna go do some fishing and….”acquire” myself a bow and arrows from the shopkeeper’s store 😉

Keep on playing…