Soundtrack Saturdays: Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike – Jazzy NYC ’99

Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike is a serious contender for my favorite game of all time. I could spend hours waxing poetic about its incredible design. How fun it was despite the relatively small roster. How unappreciated it was in its time, simply because of its ridiculously steep learning curve. How its intricate and technical combat mechanics set new standards for the fighting genre. How its complex parrying and combo systems unapologetically demanded memorization down to individual animation frames. How the graphics were some of the finest 2D sprites in the 90s. How high-level play is insanely difficult but extremely entertaining, even almost two decades later. How it’s one of the few games that I’m still willing to play anywhere, anytime.

Yeah, I love 3rd Strike.

What many folks remember it for most, however, is the soundtrack. The playlist borrowed from and blended several genres, most notably jazz, rap, techno, and instrumentals. It was a risky departure from the simpler, traditional game music themes (which Street Fighter II helped establish), but the decision paid off in spades. Jazzy NYC ’99 is arguably the most famous track, for obvious reasons. Its catchy beat goes perfectly with the bustling, gritty city subway in which its stage is located. Even after all these years, any old school fighting game fan will recognize it instantly. That’s a testament to this game’s quality.

If you want more 3rd Strike, you can find the full OST here.

Good gaming, good music.

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.

Daily Prompt: Polymathic Playlist

Hey, folks. Today’s Daily Prompt is all about music. Specifically, the kind of mix tape/playlist you’d make to introduce yourself to someone new. This one took a while to make, mainly because I was raised with a really eclectic music selection. I’ll just let the playlist do the talking. Happy listening! EDIT: For the sake of simplicity, I made a playlist on YouTube.

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.

Soundtrack Saturdays: Gran Turismo 3 – Light Velocity

When talking about racing video games, most people immediately mention the  Mario Kart series. It was fun, memorable, and a huge part of 90s American childhood. While it certainly deserves the nostalgia, it was only one of many amazing franchises out there. When it debuted on the Playstation in 1997, Gran Turismo stood out for its accuracy to real-life racing and selection of cars. However, the series didn’t really hit its stride until Gran Turismo 3 on the PS2. It was 2001 and very early in the console’s life cycle, but it was one of the first games to demonstrate what the new hardware was capable of. There weren’t as many cars due to the focus on graphical detail, but those cars were realistic and (for their time) utterly gorgeous. Having entries from Formula One, Lamborghini, and Porsche was a car enthusiast’s dream. Combined with the superb jazz and rock soundtrack, Gran Turismo 3 quickly became a modern classic, and one of the highest-selling games of all time.

If you want more Gran Turismo 3, you can find most of the 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?

Cowboy Bebop – Tank! On Eight Floppy Drives

The intro for the one best anime ever just went old school. For comparison, here’s the original jazz version. If you want to get into anime, Cowboy Bebop should be at the very top of your to-watch list. Just saying.

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: Tekken 6 – Edge of Spring (Mystical Forest)

Last week, I posted one of my favorite tracks from Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection. In doing so, I realized there were several more awesome songs spread throughout the Tekken series. I decided to check out Tekken 6 first; I’d played it a few years ago, but had mostly forgotten about it. Its soundtrack is an eclectic blend of heavy metal, techno, and instrumentals. Some songs, like the “High Rollers Club,” fit their stage’s tone perfectly. Others, like the “Anger of the Earth,” go for something a little more epic. “Edge Of Spring’s” guitars and piano won me over, though. In a game about demons and martial arts, you need a track like this to mellow things out.

If you want more Tekken 6, you can find the full OST here.

Good gaming, good music.

Soundtrack Saturdays: D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die – Detective of the Past

D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die was recently released an XBox One exclusive. It’s about a private investigator who can travel through time, and must recollect the memories surrounding his wife’s murder. It sounds kind of sketchy at first glance – the episodic releases and fact that it uses the oft-maligned Kinect are deal-breakers for some gamers – but it absolutely thrives under the direction of Hidetaka Suehiro, aka SWERY. David Young could’ve just been a generic protagonist, but his penchant for sarcasm and hilarious mannerisms are entertaining. As are the other characters, including a cat-girl roommate, a flamboyant fashion designer, a hammy drug courier, a balding US marshal, a paranoid flight passenger, and a detective capable of Joey Chestnut-levels of food consumption. Also, Young and his cohorts are the most Bostonian characters since The Departed. Seriously, CLAM CHOWDER.

This bizarre investigation is made even better with its soundtrack. The work done by Yuji Takenouchi and Tomomi Teratani is an impressive blend of rock, jazz and funk. Consider the awesome saxophone of “Nu Movement,” the upbeat instrumentals of “Tiptoe,” the haunting vocals of “Arousal,” or the soothing melody of “A String.” Few games these days have OSTs of such high quality, and it’s a travesty that D4 is being overlooked so much. If you have a XBox One, please give it a look. Hopefully the game will get enough support for more episodes.

If you want more D4, you can find previews here and here. Edit: Looks like nearly all the leaked tracks have been taken off of YouTube. The OST has been officially released since the this was posted. More details can be found on the game’s site.

Good gaming, good music.