Soundtrack Saturdays: Metal Gear Solid V – Love Deterrence (Acoustic)

I haven’t had much free time to play video games lately, but I’m finally starting to dig into the backlog I’ve accumulated. The first title on my list was Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes. You might recall that I’m a huge Metal Gear fan, and for good reason; the series has some of the best cinematic storytelling and cleverly designed gameplay mechanics in the industry. Ground Zeroes wasn’t a full game; it was essentially an early-release prologue for The Phantom Pain, which came out months later. It’s set in 1975, and you’re tasked with infiltrating an American black site in Cuba – a not-so-subtle commentary on Guantanamo Bay – and rescuing two of your allies imprisoned inside. Despite being a playable preview for the bigger game, Ground Zeroes more than proves its concept; you’re allowed to freely explore this massive map, discover its layout, and evade dozens of guards the entire time. The interactivity with objects and vehicles, the use of lighting and perspective, and the acoustics of the rain and voices are amazing.

What I enjoyed most, however, was the music. The series has always been known for its killer soundtracks, but only a handful of the games let you change the background music during gameplay. This time, you can listen to different cassette tapes – again, this is 1975 – thus giving your spy mission a little more flavor. One of the unlockable songs is this acoustic version of Paz’s character theme, “Love Deterrence.” She’s one of the prisoners you have to save, and the somber, romantic guitar melody sums up her relationship with Big Boss perfectly. Explaining the details would spoil the story of Peace Walker, but let’s just say there’s a good reason why a young woman like Paz would be locked up in a military prison…

If you want something a little more lighthearted, you can hear the original J-Pop version of “Love Deterrence” from Peace Walker here. If you want more Metal Gear Solid V, you can find the full OST here.

Good gaming, good music.

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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.

Soundtrack Saturdays: Sonic Unleashed – Spagonia Rooftop Run Night

The Sonic the Hedgehog series has seen better times. In the 90s, it was Sega’s answer to Nintendo’s Mario. These days, it’s become the punching bag the video game industry, and many of the complaints are completely justified. The last few titles were riddled with glitches – including the infamous infinite jump trick – which diminished the already lackluster gameplay. Sonic games have always been about speed and momentum; it worked in 2D because the character operated on a side-scrolling screen. As the series has repeatedly demonstrated over the last decade, such speed does not translate well into 3D environments.

Despite all its missteps, the Sonic series has never faltered in one aspect: its music. Fans are still remixing tracks from Sonic 2, and a lot of older gamers know the lyrics “Escape From The City” and “Live And Learn” by heart. Even Sonic Unleashed, a game often ridiculed for its premise and characters, has some great instrumental tracks. This Spagonia Night theme is just one of several examples of its surprisingly catchy soundtrack.

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

Good gaming, good music.

Daily Prompt: January’s Playlist

Hey, folks. Today’s Daily Prompt is all about making a five-song playlist that represents the past week. Let’s see… I like having a good beat when I’m out walking and exploring the city. Some, like Passenger 10’s “Street Names” (which itself is a progressive remix of U2’s “Where The Streets Have No Name) remind me that getting lost isn’t always a bad thing:

That also goes for Feint’s “One Thousand Dreams.” It makes me want to stop staring out of my window and walk beyond the horizon. Maybe when the days get longer…:

I’m still trying to keep my New Year’s resolution going, and Passenger 10’s “Lembrancas” has become a mainstay in my walking/jogging playlist:

When I’m up late, I usually listen to something nice and relaxing. I’m not in a relationship (sigh), but I’ve always liked the sentimentality of Little River Band’s “Reminiscing:”

That goes double for Charlie Haden’s “Easy On The Heart.” It makes me feel a little older and melancholy, but in a good way. If that makes sense:

How about you?

Soundtrack Saturdays: D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die – Main Theme

A little while back, I mentioned a game called D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die. It’s an exclusive title for the Xbox One directed by SWERY. While I’m not interested in the console, the concept of the game is pretty awesome: A private investigator from Boston (complete with the stereotypical accent), traveling through time to recollect the memories surrounding his wife’s murder. At times it’s surreal, hilarious, and utterly bizarre. What other game has slice-of-life moments involving clam chowder? Its jazz instrumental-based soundtrack is easily one of the finest of 2014. Due to the game’s relative obscurity, however, a lot of people haven’t heard it yet. Even if you’re not into gaming, the OST is definitely worth a listen.

If you want more D4, you can find previews here and here. More details about the OST can be found on the game’s site.

Good gaming, good music.

Soundtrack Saturdays: Guilty Gear Xrd – Lily

Fun fact: Street Fighter II Turbo was the only fighting game I played as a kid. No, seriously. I didn’t know about King of Fighters, Tekken, Virtua Fighter, or any of the other iconic brawlers of the old school gaming generation. So imagine my shock when I first played Guilty Gear X2, one of the greatest fighting games on the PS2. It had incredibly detailed sprites, edgy and stylish characters, fantastic settings, stunning special effects, and an absolutely killer soundtrack. My world was rocked; for that time onward, I made a point of playing every Guilty Gear game I could get my hands on.

I wasn’t the only one, either. After years of re-releases, the fans finally got the next-gen sequel they’d demanded. Guilty Gear Xrd was recently released for the PS3 and PS4, just in time for the holiday season. And from what I’ve played so far, it’s exactly what everyone wanted: several badass characters, stellar voice acting, blisteringly fast-paced combat, incredibly technical gameplay, and graphics that utterly trounce any 2D fighter before it. Of course, it has a ridiculously awesome OST. There’s the usual blends of rock and metal, though there are a few more lighthearted tracks scattered throughout. Daisuke Ishiwatari, the legendary director, artist, writer, and composer behind the Guilty Gear series, happens to be a huge Queen fan. Tracks like “Lily” are fine examples of the work he does.

If you want more Guilty Gear Xrd, you can find the full OST here.

Good gaming, good music.

Soundtrack Saturdays: Tekken 6 – Yodeling In Meadow Hill (Hidden Retreat)

Continuing my Tekken fix from the last two weeks, I delved deeper into Tekken 6’s OST and found this gem buried deep in the playlist. This is a song exclusive to to the Bloodline Rebellion, which was a re-release of the previous game, but with more characters and rebalanced combat mechanics. “Yodeling In Meadow Hill” continues in the series’ tradition of trying out different genres and blending them together. It’s hard to say if it’s a parody – yodeling, sheep, and the Matterhorn don’t really work with the game’s dark and demonic theming – but it’s undeniably catchy. And if you think it’s silly, you should check out this hilariously cheesy High School Musical parody track in the Wii U version of Tekken Tag Tournament 2. Not so bad now, huh?

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

Good gaming, good music.