Weekly Photo Challenge: Renaissance Barcelona Rooftop Terrace

Renaissance Barcelona Terrace

This week’s photo challenge is all about state of mind, so I thought I’d skip way ahead in my travel writing and give you a glimpse of my time in Spain. The Renaissance Barcelona Hotel has a stylish lookout point built into its 8th floor. It’s nice, quiet, and comfortable. If you’ve been walking around the city all day, this is the place to go; you can bring your dinner upstairs, relax on the beds, listen to the chill music (they were playing a remix of Diana Ross’s “Love Hangover” at the time), and get a decent view of downtown. That’s assuming, of course, that you’re a hotel guest; you need a room keycard to access the elevator. A larger version is viewable here.

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Soundtrack Saturdays: Professor Layton and the Last Specter Theme (Live)

I love the Professor Layton series. It’s the closest Nintendo – or any major video game company, for that matter – will get to making a Sherlock Holmes-style character. He’s highly intelligent, polite, and solves mysteries of ridiculous proportions. It would’ve worked well enough as a visual novel, but letting you solve hundreds of puzzles along the way makes it so much better. The series is also well known for its extensive continuity and well-written characters; The Last Specter is the fourth installment out of six (seven if you count the Phoenix Wright crossover), but it’s the first chronologically. It’s also famous for its various soundtracks, which are among the best you’ll ever hear on a Nintendo console. While the theme of the Diabolical Box will always be my favorite, this live version of the Last Specter is great for some easy listening.

Good gaming, good music.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Afternoon On The Pier

Afternoon On The Pier

Another day at the ocean. The beach at Paradise Village ends at a rocky pier with a small lookout hut. It’s a very popular place for people looking to beat the heat and take some photos; it’s not usual for small crowds to show up for the sunsets. But on afternoons like this, you can take a book and relax amongst the crashing waves. Large version available here.

Soundtrack Saturdays: Donkey Kong Country 2 – Stickerbrush Symphony

Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest had a lot to live up to. With only a year since the release of the original DKC – one of the finest and visually stunning games on the SNES – it was a ridiculously tough act to follow. Rare stepped up to the challenge by introducing even more collectible items, tons of hidden rooms and secrets, more allies and enemies, even better graphics, more varied platforming and level designs, and a new character with a more unique abilities and jump physics.

It also boasted one of the finest soundtracks on the SNES, if not any console of that generation. David Wise put a lot of effort into the composition, and it shows. Other 16-bit games could only dream of having its intricate layering and epic tone. “Stickerbrush Symphony” is arguably the most famous track in DKC’s already impressive musical library. It’s strangely fitting that such a relaxing song plays during one of the toughest levels in the entire game.

If you want more DKC2, you can find the full OST here.

Good gaming, good music.

A Summer 2014 Playlist

Hey, folks. Today’s Daily Prompt is all about music. Specifically, the songs that will always remind you of the summer of 2014. I don’t think I’ve come up with a definite theme for the season, but the following come to mind:

Reminiscing by the Little River Band

Time Goes By (Floris de Haan Remix) by Carrie Skipper

Midnight Rider by The Allman Brothers

Moving The River by Prefab Sprout

Holding Back The Years by Simply Red

Heavy Mood by Tilly and the Wall

There’s a mix of isolation and uncertainty, the passage of time, and the determination to keep going. I’m not sure if it just reflects my current mood, or something more. When it comes to the music of our lives, some variety makes for the best soundtracks.

Soundtrack Saturdays: Katamari Damacy – Katamaritaino (Roll Me In)

Video

I think I’ve mentioned how Katamari Damacy possesses one of the best and most varied soundtracks in video gaming. Katamaritaino is one of its most underrated entries. In a game where your goal is to roll up flowers, trees, animals, people, cars, buildings, cities, mountains, countries, continents, planets, moons, and the entire galaxy into a gigantic sticky ball, some smooth Japanese jazz is strangely appropriate.

If you want more Katamari (and believe me, you do), you can find the first game’s full playlist here.

Good gaming, good music.

Soundtrack Saturdays: Donkey Kong Country – Aquatic Ambiance

Video

Released in 1994 for the Super Nintendo, Donkey Kong Country was a force to reckoned with. Nintendo needed a major title to push its console to its limits, and DKC pulled it off spectacularly. Graphics that resembled 3D rendering, fluid animations, and a maximized color display blew audiences away. The challenging – for the time, anyway – platforming was nothing to scoff at, either. But the part everyone remembers most is the soundtrack. Remember, this song was on a video game cartridge, not a CD! Aquatic Ambiance is just one of several themes that are not only iconic to the franchise, but to retro gaming as well. It’s even getting remixed for the upcoming Donkey Kong Wii U game. You know a song is good when people are still listening to it 20 years later.

You can find the rest of the Donkey Kong Country OST here.

Good gaming, good music.