Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Top Ten MD Sonic Music Tracks

If it's not already been made clear by the blog title, I'm a huge fan of old school Sonic. And lately I've been on a bit of a game music spree, listening to guitar renditions of classic tunes and the like. And of course, once in a while I'm reminded of how damn good the soundtracks in the Mega Drive Sonics were. Even at a young age they resonated with me, and they remain a crucial part of what makes those games so memorable.

So! In my mission to...erm, confirm this, I've put together a harmless little video depicting my top ten music choices from 1, 2, 3 and "& Knuckles". Also; you might want to turn on video annotations. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

At the Pictures: Michael Jackson's This is It

I have to admit, I've not been an MJ fan for long. I grew up in the 90s, a time MJ wasn't as dominant in as he was the decade before. More than anything, it wasn't until a few years ago that I properly got into music (I was a weird little teenager), and King-of-Pop-fandom ensued. Smooth Criminal...ohh man, I know it goes without saying, but I could listen to that all day.

Naturally, news of the King's death was a blow to me, as it was to many all over the world. Behind being the punchline of many an unfunny joke, it was a reminder to us all that MJ was a damn fine entertainer. And that's where popumentary (...?) This is It shines, showing us of the side of Mr Jackson we truly love. No below the belt blows, no derogatory "Jacko" nicknaming, just a hint at what *could* have been had those fifty concert performances gone ahead.

We're shown footage of rehearsals and of all that behind-the-scenes hoo-hah. At times, it feels like it's from the second disk of a special edition DVD set. Recitals of classic MJ songs are sung and performed, given slightly different instrumentation and pacing while remaining faithful to their original versions. If nothing else, it's a bittersweet film; this isn't a schlock band reunion where the heart isn't in it, the passion shown by everyone involved is very apparent (especially you-know-who). It's hard not to sympathise with dancers and musicians proclaiming their excitement to be performing with Michael, ultimately never to do so beyond rehearsal.

More than anything, the film is a good time. It's had detractors complaining that it whitewashes MJ's last days, making things look a little too cheery...but really, does the world need more of the man's darker times? The media's already drilled that drivel into our penetrable minds. Instead, This is It is a chin-up movie, and even if there's a little sorrow in seeing one of pop culture's icons in his last days, it's hard not to smile as he's moonwalks through each dance and each song with the attention to detail and energy that gave him his fame in the first place.

If I have any complaints, it's only that of some of my favourite songs didn't feature, and that perhaps it ran a tad long. But still, it was a good time, and...dare I say was a thriller*.

8 out of 10

*I've just put you off ever reading this blog ever again haven't I?

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Reflecting back: Donkey Kong Land 2

With the news of great composer David Wise leaving great developer Rare, I couldn't help but reflect and realize how much of my childhood the man composed. Being a crazed Nintendo kid in the mid-to-late nineties, I grew up with what might be considered the golden age of Rare (if not, silver at least?).

In particular, I'm reminded of Donkey Kong Land 2.

To many, the game might seem insignificant. A poor man's version of what some might consider a poor man's platformer (something I contest with). But you need to see this from the whimsical eyes of my six year old self. As an unexpected sixth birthday present, DK-Land 2 sucked me in with its surprisingly dark setting, its gripping sense of adventure and some tough, sink-or-swim gameplay. Kids eat that stuff up, I know I sure as hell did.

Despite the “poor man's” point of view, the Game Boy hardware may have helped that, and this is where SenĂ³r Wise comes in. What some consider blips I consider some of the most atmospheric melodies to engross my young mind, assisted by a sound chip better than most give it credit for. And Game Boy was very much a solitary experience (we'll save link cables for another discussion); the atmosphere was there to suck only you in all the more so.

Of course, this is without getting at the solid platforming, or the proud sense of teamwork in the duo of Diddy and Dixie, or etc etc. This wasn't a dumbed down port, it was its own beast, whilst admittedly borrowing elements from another masterful game. Not to mention it was ideal for me, never owning a Super Nintendo until 2002 (Mega Drive to N64 it was until then).

I'm not saying you should whip down to your knees and worship Dee-Kay Land 2, but respect it for what it is. If nothing else, look up the music from it or Country 2 on Youtube, you'll be surprised and all the more saddened to see such great talent leave such a great company.


Should point out that I originally typed that out for, the website for the top notch magazine of the same name (really should subscribe to them one of these days...). They seem to have an emphasis on user content, where you can add a game 'profile' and do a mini review of sorts on it. Then you get the usual thing where other folks comment on it etc etc. Check it out :)

That awkward intro to an awkward blog

So yeah, hey! How'you doing? Good? Sub par? Either way, as someone looking to study a degree English Language soon (after unsucessfully going at Computer Science for some time), I thought I might as well get some blog thing up. Me enjoying dabbles in writing helps as well.

This I imagine will vary between general thoughts blog and gaming thoughts (mostly of the retro kind). I promise things won't get too whiny or upper-lip-serious, but I may try and get insightful, just because.

So yeah, read stuff, enjoy stuff and comment on stuff because I'm that type of desperate attention seeker :} Let'sa-go!