Weekend Gaming Vibes – Playlist

This past week felt like one of those weeks where your energy level just isn’t what it would normally be(not very high to begin with) and you just feel like you could use a recharge. I haven’t been quite as active on things like Twitter or Twitch and had some reading to catch up on here on WordPress this past week, so I thought today would be a perfect day to do something a little more simple like showing a playlist of some of the gaming-related music I’ve been listening to when I’m sitting here at my computer, doing housework or simply not working.

This past week it was announced that Activision is set to release a remastered edition of both Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 & 2. The first things that sprang to mind were the endless hours spent playing THPS games as a kid and the memorable collections of licensed music featured within. I could immediately hear Goldfinger’s “Superman” or the Dead Kennedys’ “Police Truck” playing in my head. As with many other fans of THPS, the series was the introduction to a great many different songs and artists. One of my favorites from the original Pro Skater is Jerry Was a Race Car Driver, the little ditty that introduced me to the goofy, yet talented trio of Les Claypool, Larry Lalonde, and Tim ‘Herb’ Alexander.

Streets of Rage 4 released just a few weeks ago and I’m still having a lot of fun playing through the game. It’s a great example of a sequel retaining the essence of what made the previous games such a beloved franchise among retro gamers. The soundtrack to Streets of Rage 4 is no exception as the generally uptempo tracks nicely compliment the flow of the game. One of my favorites is the track ‘Rising Up’ which coincidentally(or not) is used during the elevator level in the game, a prerequisite for any beat ’em up game.

For any critiques or complaints one may have against Doom Eternal, the heavy-as-hell Mick Gordon soundtrack typically isn’t among them. The aggressive industrial-metal soundscape created is integral for setting the mood of the game – brutality and carnage. The relationship between Mick and Bethesda doesn’t sound entirely amenable, with Gordon himself allegedly stating he does not see himself working with Bethesda in the future after the controversy about the mixing and handling of the game’s soundtrack. Regardless of what happens, the Doom Eternal soundtrack is still an impressive work to go out on.

Another great game with an equally great soundtrack released in the past couple months is Ori and the Will of the Wisps. The track I picked for this playlist is ‘Ku’s First Flight’ which plays early on in the game as we see baby owl, Ku hatch with a damaged wing making flight a seemingly impossible dream. It isn’t until Ori retrieves a large feather and ties it to Ku’s impaired wing the duo are able to take flight as this beautifully emotive track accompanies them.

I picked up the Assassin’s Creed Rebels collection for my Nintendo Switch recently. The set includes an HD remaster of both Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and Rogue. It wasn’t until the past few years that I had really started to play more of the AC series and had always wanted to play Black Flag. I really enjoy being able to sail around the map as I loot and plunder the Caribbean islands. Who doesn’t love being a pirate? I also love the arrangement of stringed instruments in the soundtrack, particularly the cello sections.

Probably not much of a surprise here as well, I’ve been continuing to play Animal Crossing: New Horizons as I run around the island hoarding shells, buying turnips, and fishing. The soundtrack, in complete contrast to Doom Eternal, is like a cool island breeze. The relaxing soundscape is the perfect way to chill out and relax amidst everything else going on outside my apartment. I have a fondness for steel drums as well, so the track Island Tour(Day – Rain) has a spot on this playlist.

And not entirely surprising, I’ll conclude my list with a selection from the Far Cry 5 soundtrack, one of my absolute favorite games from this current console generation. I was surprised at just how much I started to like the original songs included in the game as essentially “propaganda” songs played for the Eden’s Gate cult. An interesting part of the game’s soundtrack is, depending on which region of Hope County Montana you are currently in, you will hear different interpretations or arrangements of a given song. One of my other favorites that I’ve been listening to over the past week year and a half is this folksy arrangement of the song ‘Let the Water Wash Away Your Sins’. The alternate version of the song incorporates instruments like acoustic guitars and violins…sorry, I mean fiddles, along with the sing-along chorus give the song almost a Bob Dylan-like feel to the song. The irony of all these songs in the game is just how easily you go from hating “that stupid cult music” to “I love these songs!”.

What have you been listening to this past week? Have you had a special playlist to help keep you sane during quarantine? Let me know. I think I’m gonna jump back into some more Far Cry 5…

Thanks for reading!

My Summertime Games

I’m going to start off by apologizing for not having a blog post ready for this past weekend, my brother was in town for the week and I didn’t have much time to sit at my computer and write anything out. I had an enjoyable week playing games and visiting our local used game store in town. As this past week was the 4th of July, I thought it would be fun to write about the games that I associate with summertime. I have made a list of the games that always remind me of those summer days as kids where my brother and I would come inside from playing baseball out in the backyard, grab a couple cold sodas, and then proceed to play some games during the hottest hours of the day. First off….

All-Star Baseball – “America’s Pastime”, this was a bit difficult to name just one single baseball game as my favorite, but the first memories that come to mind are playing the All-Star Baseball games on my N64. I started as a kid playing La Russa Baseball 95 on Sega Genesis all the way through to present day MLB The Show games. We would play outside and pretend we were hitting in major league stadiums like Ken Griffey Jr. or Mike Piazza and then head inside to continue on as our favorite players on the N64. The games have improved by light years from the simple design of the 16-bit days, and the yearly offering of MLB The Show is still probably the games I play most during the summer months. I often think of all the time spent playing baseball on N64, as well as in the backyard with friends and family, being inseparable from any mention of summertime.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater – Growing up in the 90’s and into the early 2000’s before extreme sports games like skateboarding and snowboarding seemingly went extinct, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater most successful series of the genre and helped bring extreme sports even further into popular culture of the time; remember Jackass or Viva La Bam on MTV? or when the X Games drew massive viewers on ESPN? I first played the original Pro Skater the summer of 2000 after a cousin brought the N64 version of the game over and spent the day playing. I got my mom to buy my brother and I a copy of the game from a local Kmart and we spent the rest of the summer obsessively playing it; I remember waking up in the mornings that summer just to try and collect more tapes thereby unlocking more levels. As someone unable to even stand on a skateboard( and living in the middle of nowhere) this was like discovering another world. Pro Skater, along with Rogue Squadron 2 were the first games I got when the GameCube came out in 2002. I still have copies of the first couple Tony Hawk games for Playstation that are still fun to go back and play every now and then, despite the camera and controls which have not aged particularly well. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater was a huge game for me during all those summers as a kid, not to mention all of the cool licensed music that were used for the games. Ask anyone who played the game to NOT think of THPS upon hearing Superman by Goldfinger.

Mario Golf N64 – I dragged my trusty N64 into my living room a few weeks ago and Mario Golf was one of the first games that I popped in. I spent countless hours with my younger brother and our neighbor friend trying to unlock all the extra characters that you needed to first beat in Match Play, which proved quite challenging to say the least. I remember taking turns playing one hole each trying to beat Metal Mario…I don’t think we ever did? The music and sound effects from this game still bring forth all those warm fuzzy nostalgic feelings after all these years. I dragged my trusty N64 into my living room a few weeks ago and Mario Golf was one of the first games that I popped in and plan on going through and writing about the Mario Golf series as I love all the games. While many consider Mario Golf for the Game Boy Color to be the high point of the series, my favorite would still have to be the N64 version.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City – Man…I can’t even imagine the hours that were spent playing this on Playstation 2. GTA: Vice City was the game my brother and I saved every cent of allowance money and traded in several stacks of games just to buy a PS2, because we knew we HAD TO GET THIS GAME. Vice City took everything that GTA 3 had pioneered in open-world games and added even more. My friends and I used to take turns playing the game for hours on end without even attempting to actually complete a storyline mission. I had never played anything like it to that point, it was so fun to run around the neon, tropical landscape of Vice City set during the 1980s. The carefree do-anything gameplay, music, and chaos that Rockstar created in Vice City is still one of the first things that comes to mind when I think of video games in the summertime.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – I ACTUALLY have a more recently released game on my list! It has been two years since I was able to get a Switch and the obvious choice of game to go along with it is Breath of the Wild. I spent the rest of the summer completing shrines and gathering Korok seeds in Nintendo’s open-world Zelda masterpiece. I had been itching to play through the game all over again, so I started another playthrough over the weekend with the intention of completing every shrine and finding every Korok seed, along with finally completing the Master Sword Trial( wish me luck! 😉 ). There really isn’t much to say about BotW that hasn’t already been said, if you have not played it yet…YOU NEED TO PLAY THIS! The game is an experience.

Super Mario Sunshine – I am simply unable to think of summertime video games without Super Mario Sunshine being one of the first games springing to mind. I fell in love with this game from the first time I played in on my GameCube in August 2002 and Mario’s vacation-gone-awry on Isle Delfino is still one of my highlights on the console. The exotic Isle Delfino and the Piantas – its anti-pollution, fruit-loving denizens, simply evokes images of a dream summer vacation. The wonderful Koji Kondo soundtrack adds to the summertime mood as well. Despite the seemingly relaxed vibe of the game, it can be terrifyingly difficult; just take a look at some of the 3D puzzle-platforming levels in the later stages of the game. I recently wrote up a list of my “Switch Wish List” and Sunshine is one of the games I really would love to play on the Switch, as the predecessor of Super Mario Odyssey. While the camera is STILL the games biggest drawback, it is a pure enjoyable experience traversing Isle Delfino with your waterpack – F.L.U.D.D and still consider it one of the defining experiences on the GameCube. Switch re-release or not, Super Mario Sunshine is still my go-to summer gaming experience.

That’s going to be it for this week’s post, what games do you think of right away if you when you reminisce about childhood summers? What are you still excited to play the remained of the sumer? I did also pick up a copy of Super Mario Maker 2 and have been loving it so far; the depth of the course creator and insane user-created levels are really impressive. That along with Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 when it releases in a couple weeks will most likely consume the rest of my summer. I still have a lot of games that I want to keep working on as the past week was spent mostly playing MLB The Show, Mario Kart 8, and an assorted few N64 and GameCube games and then of course, Season 3 of Stranger Things. I do plan to get more in the rhythm of writing weekly posts moving forward through the rest of the summer. Over the course of the week, I was able to come up with some ideas for future blog posts that I would love to experiment with as well, so I’m pretty happy about that. Happy National Video Game Day! Finally…a holiday for us gamers 😉

Keep on playing…