What Causes Auroras?

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“The Aurora Borealis? At this time of year? At this time of day? In this part of the country? Localized entirely within your kitchen?!

…Not quite, but SciShow explains how it works.

Soundtrack Saturdays: Metal Gear Solid 3 – Snake Eater

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Metal Gear Solid 3 was one of the most anticipated games of its generation. After its unveiling, there were some doubts; the MGS games usually involved sneaking through buildings and industrialized areas, not the jungle depicted in the trailer. Once the game finally came out, all those doubts were quickly forgotten. You still played as Snake, albeit a previous version of him set in the 1960s Cold War. The Snake Eater theme deliberately took cues from the old James Bond movie intros. Since the in-game technology was designed to fit with the setting, gamers had to rely more on actual sneaking and use of the environment instead of high-tech equipment. And it showed. The natural sounds and ambiance were some of the finest on the PS2. You blended into the environment the old fashioned way: looking at your surroundings, and painting your body accordingly. Since guns attracted too much attention, you could take everyone down with newly-implemented grappling techniques.You want a tough boss battle? Try an hour-long duel against a near-invisible sniper. It’s even more awesome that it sounds.

What begins as a generic spy mission quickly evolves into a sad tale of trust, betrayal, and sacrifice. The passing of time and how it affects your beliefs is its defining theme. While it has plenty of silly moments – it wouldn’t be MGS without them – the plot gradually builds in tension and poignancy. Snake might be one of the greatest game heroes ever, but it comes at a terrible cost. For every moment of epic action, there’s tragedy to balance it. It’s not done in a cliched, way, either; by the time you beat the game, you’ll realize just how much effort went into humanizing what could’ve been a one-dimensional character. I won’t spoil the ending for you, but it’s become famous for being one of the few video games to make people cry. Look for spoiler videos at your own risk.

If you want more Snake Eater, you find the rest of the OST here.

Good gaming, good music.

Soundtrack Saturdays: Ultra Street Fighter IV – Elena’s Theme: Beats In My Head

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Last week, I chose the Street Fighter theme of my favorite character, Chun-Li. Earlier this week, however, Capcom released the latest entry in the franchise: Ultra Street Fighter IV. It brings five more fights into the mix, making a total roster of 44 playable characters. Some of them are from Third Strike, my favorite game in the franchise. One of whom is Elena, who was originally designed to showcase the graphical capabilities of 2D sprites. In 1997, she one of the most detailed video game characters ever. Since she specialized in capoeira, she was constantly moving and dancing. Even when you weren’t pressing any buttons! While she’s rendered in 3D now in 2014, her slick fighting style and positive personality haven’t changed a bit. What has changed, however, is her theme, Beats In My Head. The vocals didn’t translate well in the original, but the song was too awesome to forget. Capcom remixed it for Ultra, giving old-time fans like me something to enjoy.

If you want more Street Fighter IV, you can find (most of) the OST here.

Good gaming, good music.