Weekly Photo Challenge: Signs, Or: Haleakala Nene Crossing

Haleakala Nene Crossing

This week’s challenge is all about signs, so I was reminded of something I saw near the peak of Haleakala on Maui. The Nene is the rarest species of goose in the world; it’s exclusive to the Hawaiian islands, and Maui’s population is hidden on the upper slopes of Haleakala. I was lucky enough to see four of those rare birds during my journey. Great trouble has gone to ensure the Nene’s survival, and this crossing sign on the volcano is just one example of it.


Soundtrack Saturdays: Jet Force Gemini – Eschebone

Jet Force Gemini is one of the great unsung gems of the Nintendo 64 library. Oh sure, everyone talks about Goldeneye, Ocarina of Time, and Star Fox 64. But anyone who’s played this game knows better. It’s an epic space saga involving twin space soldiers, their trusty robot dog, and an evil empire of mutant ants. There are tons of flashy weapons, relatively intelligent AI, and special effects that push the N64’s graphics to their limits. The levels are huge, varied, and creatively designed. The sheer scope of it all is rather stunning for such an old game. It’s hurt by its late endgame developments, though; like any other title made by Rare, it requires a ridiculous amount of item collecting in order to beat. In this case, it involves rescuing every member of a race of sentient teddy bears hidden throughout the galaxy.

Yeah, it’s about as fun as it sounds.

However, the any potential tedium is drowned out by the game’s incredible soundtrack. Just listen to that track. Can you believe that came out a Nintendo cartridge? It’s so atmospheric. The composer took cues from major film scores; this particular track is based on the works of Danny Elfman. It’s one of many, many amazing songs in an equally amazing game.

If you want more Jet Force Gemini, you can find the full OST here.

Good gaming, good music.

Soundtrack Saturdays: Donkey Kong Country – Fear Factory

Pretty sure I’ve mentioned Donkey Kong Country before. It was one of the finest games of its time; it had challenging platforming mechanics, intricate level designs, and graphics that pushed the Super Nintendo to its limits. However, it’s the soundtrack that everyone remembers. Fear Factory captured the pacing and tone of its levels perfectly. Not only did you have to outmaneuver all kinds of hazards, but you had to do it quick reflexes and the utmost precision. Listening to this now, the fact that Rare managed to get this performance on a cartridge – not a CD – is still absolutely mind-blowing. After 20 years of sequels and spinoffs, the original soundtrack has yet to be topped.

If you want more Donkey Kong Country, you can find the OST here.

Good gaming, good music.

Soundtrack Saturdays: Goldeneye 007 – Archives

It’s hard to imagine what gaming would be like without Goldeneye 007. Based on the famous James Bond movie, it was one of the finest multiplayer games of its time. Every modern first-person shooter owes something to its design. Up to four players could hunt each other down at the same time, using a plethora of guns, bombs, and knives. The ridiculous amount of codes and secrets (including a functional ZX Spectrum emulator!) made every fire fight entertaining. I doubt I’m the only gamer who remembers the floating mine glitch, or the tedium of tracking down Dr. Doak in the second stage. Despite aging poorly in terms of graphics and simplistic stage design, its fundamental mechanics are solid. The superb soundtrack adds some much-needed ambiance and keeps you engaged in the mission. Nearly 20 years later, you can still find gamers willing to give it another round.

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

Good gaming, good music.