Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Most Punderful Time of the Year: Music

Now, it's time for the same list as last time (remember last time? An entire semester ago? Remember when I measured time in increments other than semesters?), except instead of describing the gameplay, story, or other merits of my favorite games, I will be focusing exclusively on the music, about which I can say little more substantial than "IT'S REALLY GOOD YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO IT BY CLICKING THIS LINK". But damn if that'll stop me from trying.


Persona 3: FES Opening
Persona 4: Like A Dream Come True (Reincarnation remix)
Persona Q: Light the Fire Up in the Night (P3 Version)
Persona 4: Dancing All Night: Dance!
Every Persona Game: Poem for Everyone's Souls

If there's one thing you should know about Persona, it's that it's a game about shooting yourself in the head to summon demons while rap music plays in the background. Seriously. (Well, one of the games, anyway) But if there are two things you should know, the second one is that the menus in the Persona 5 trailer are unreal. If you had told me 10 years ago that menu technology would have advanced so far in such a short time, I would have told you to tell me more interesting things about the future, honestly. But if there are three things you should know, the third one is that Persona has some seriously cool music. If you're in the market for J-Pop with lyrics that you can almost understand, then Persona is like an all-you-can-eat buffet, provided that you can only eat 40 or so songs. Of course, that's just a completely fabricated estimate of the number of vocal tracks. There's plenty more instrumental music, which is, in some cases, just as tasty. Add in the -Reincarnation- albums “Burn My Dread” and “Nevermore”, and you have a bunch of music of a quality that might be described as “unfair”. Seriously, just listen to that rendition of “Like a Dream Come True” and tell me that you don't feel a twinge of pity for all other music for having to try to measure up to that.

Child of Light/Cœur de pirate

Child of Light: Aurora's theme
Cœur de Pirate: Golden Baby

The main draw (absolutely nothing to "get" here [see: the previous post –ED]) of Child of Light is the verse. Virtually all text in the game rhymes. It's the reason I got the game in the first place, but it's not the reason you should get it. It all rhymes, for the most part, but it's more written in yard than it is written in meter, if you're catching my drift. And while the quality of the poetry isn't the best, the sheer quantity of it is impressive, and just about everything else about the game is fantastic; the combat is fun and interesting, the art is beautiful, the story is alright, and, most relevant to this post, the soundtrack is great.

FULL DISCLOSURE: My first thought upon listening to the full soundtrack on Spotify was "man, I'm glad I didn't pay money for this". But, in my defense, I'm a college student with enough things to spend money on, and I'm quite content with listening to good music for free with minimal inconvenience.

Spotify: Music for Poor People!®

But another thing I can thank Child of Light's soundtrack for is introducing me to the composer, French-Canadian musician Cœur de Pirate, literally "Pirate Heart", which I would call dibs on for a band name if it weren't, you know, already in use. In addition to composing, she sings in both French and Canadian, and is very good at both.  Also, one of her albums has #skeletons on it.

My #Twitter #Brand

The Giddy Limit/Professor Elemental

The Giddy Limit: Please Don't Feed The Trolls
Professor Elemental: The Quest for the Golden Frog

I off-handedly mentioned Professor Elemental a while back, when I said that I may have to preach about him someday. Well, his newest album, "The Giddy Limit" dropped last year, so the day has finally come. Professor Elemental is a steampunk rapper of sorts, a prominent artist in the genre known as chap-hop. Chap-hop is, more or less, an imagining of what rap would be like if it were invented in Victorian England. Rather than rapping about drug use, gang violence, or how to use the power of dance to save your local community center (I, uh, don't really listen to a lot of rap), Professor Elemental spits rhymes about incredible contraptions, fantastic adventures, and silly hats. And while his songs are mostly silly and humorous, they are by no means just a joke. As a poet myself, I am fully qualified to assert that his flow is in fact most "fresh" and, uh, "dope". So if you're a doughy white boy looking for rap that won't upset your parents, (or, more likely, upset your parents for a whole different reason) or you're just a fan of poetry and music at the same time, I highly recommend that you check him out.

“The Giddy Limit”, despite sounding like the title of a calculus course taught by me, is an album that I paid actual money for, putting it on par with the Frozen soundtrack, Bastion Soundtrack, and like two other songs I've ever paid for (see: the previous entry. Er, the Spotify part, not the “Pirate” part). Actually, I retract the “despite” from that last sentence; that's probably exactly why I paid money for it. The reason for the unusual title is... quirky and British, probably? I honestly have no idea.

Bravely Default

Final Boss song: Serpent Eating the Horizon

Remember Attack on Titan? Even if you don't, you probably watched it; a lot of people did. Called “Japan's answer to The Walking Dead” by people who enjoy angering fans of Attack on Titan and fans of The Walking Dead, Attack on Titan is an over-rated anime. But that's not to say that it was completely without merit. One of my favorite parts of it would have to be the opening, one of the hypest songs I've ever heard. I'd have no problem throwing myself at a 50 meter behemoth with no hope of survival if that song were in the background pumping me up. Now I want you to imagine an entire soundtrack composed of songs that are as hype as the Attack on Titan opening. If you're having trouble dreaming up such a wild fantasy, then, well, I can hardly blame you. But such a thing truly does exist in this, the realm of Man, and it is the Bravely Default soundtrack. It's composed by the same guy, Revo, and much of it has the exact same flavor. There is variety in the music, so it's not all comin' at ya hot and heavy, but when it is, it's comin' at ya the hottest and the heaviest. This all culminates with the final boss theme, which is over-the-top excellent enough to keep one of the longest boss fights I've ever fought from feeling like it was being dragged out.

Yet all good things must come to an end, which is why Bravely Second, the just-as-stupidly-titled sequel, has a score composed by someone else. And while Ryo has some tasty tracks to his name, most notably some of the most celebrated Miku songs of all time, it seems unlikely that he'll be able to measure up to Bravely Default, because, honestly, I don't even know if Revo could top his own work. Bravely Default is probably my second favorite video game soundtrack of all time, and likely my favorite video game soundtrack that doesn't cheat (Sorry, Smash Bros.)


We All Become

Transistor had good music. Was it as good as Bastion's? In my opinion, no. Was it good enough to get on a list of my favorite music of the year? Evidently, yes. It particular, I think that the instrumental tracks in Transistor aren't as memorable as Bastion's. At least, I don't think they were. I don't really remember. The vocal tracks, on the other hand, are so good that you'll (incorrectly) swear they weren't recorded in some dude's closet. It really is a testament to the talent of Supergiant Games that they can make better music with two people and a closet than some musicians can make with a million dollar studio and a name that kind of almost rhymes with “fever”. And, speaking of the people behind the soundtrack of Transistor, I'd like to talk for a bit about Darren Korb, the composer of Bastion and Transistor's soundtracks.

The thing between the muttonchops and behind the horn-rimmed glasses.

Now, that image says all you really need to know. Darren Korb looks like the stern yet ultimately kind-hearted police chief to whom #HipsterCop reports. He described the genre of Transistor's music as “Electronic old world post-rock”. Now, that's not a direct quotation, (I left my paraphrase marks in my other pants) but it was definitely something along those lines. [NOTE: I managed to find the source, and I actually got it exactly right, except the order of the words -ED]. He's in a band called Control Group that's inexplicably underground, despite containing the composer of perhaps the most beloved indie soundtrack of all time. I gave their stuff a listen, and I can't really think of any way to describe their sound other than “indie”. Except, perhaps, by saying that it is much more believable that it was recorded in some dude's closet, but in a way that I can't help but dig. Because, in the end, despite looking like the poster child of the most hated group on the internet since furries, Darren Korb is pretty damn cool, which just goes to show that you can't judge an album by its cover art.

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Super Smash Bros. For Wii U

Main Theme
Best New Remix: Cynthia's Theme
Runner Up: Dedede's Theme
Cool song that's only in the Japanese version because Japan can eat it: Ashley's Theme Ver. 2

There's really not much more to say about the Super Smash Bros. Soundtrack. If you know the words, you can join in too.

Etrian Odyssey IV

Battle Theme: Battlefield - Storm
FOE theme: The Fall of the Final Enemy
Town Theme: Day and Night

The Etrian Odyssey soundtrack is really good. Listen to that song, and keep in mind that that's the ordinary battle theme for random encounters. Now, battle music is supposed to be hype, so it's not too unusual, but towards the end, you get the sense that the composer forgot that this was for common mooks, and pulled out all the stops. And, to be fair, if a battle goes on for that long, you deserve some triumphant fanfare to get you through the day. The fact of the matter is that for the first few hours I played this game, I grinned like an idiot every time I listened to this song. And I still do. I love it.

But not every song in the game is as ridiculously hype as the battle music. For the first few dungeons, the intense battle music provides excellent contrast to the dungeon music, a serene piece that calls to mind a peaceful forest. There’s no way anything could go wrong in such a mellow melody accompanying you. And then it happens. You make one wrong move, and WHAM! You’re in a suburb of the greater FOE area, Population: 5, and rapidly declining. And the music lets you know just how badly you’re screwed, right off the bat. Of course, the tables turn once you’re hardened adventurers who have been to the foot of Yggdrasil and back; the panic in the song belongs to the beasts you hunt, as you remorselessly dismantle them as vengeance for the trouble they gave you at the start.

Now, I could go on about how fun the town theme is, or how smooth it is at night, but all you really need to know about the Etrian Odyssey IV Soundtrack is this:

The ESRB has deemed this content generally suitable for children ages 13 and up.

Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA f (& F 2nd)

Hatsune Miku: Secret Police
Rin and Len Kagamine: HachiHachi Flower Fight
Meiko: Nostalogic
Kaito: Ashes to Ashes
Megurine Luka: Glasses

I mentioned Miku in my last Top Music list, but I'mma level with you: When I wrote that, I probably knew less than a dozen Miku songs. I really liked the songs I knew, and I could get behind the concept, but I was never really motivated to look for more. But that changed when I bought a Playstation Vita just to play Persona 4 Golden, and needed to buy more games to justify the purchase. Enter Project DIVA, a rhythm game starring everyone's favorite electronic singer.


Project DIVA's gameplay is simple enough. Playstation buttons fly all around the screen, and you have to press the corresponding button when it reaches the target. This is done to the rhythm of the song that is playing. It's kind of like Guitar Hero, (Does anyone remember that? I do) but with buttons coming from all over the place, instead of down a single track, and with animations in the background. It also does away with the clunky peripheral, so there's nothing between you and the rhythm, save Miku's... gyrating.

The game has 32 songs, and while most are sung by Miku, a few of the other vocaloids get in on the action. And while I used to scoff at the notion of other vocaloids, I must say, I've taken quite a shine to them. Each of the 6 has their own distinct voice, allowing some variety in the musical style. The music is also kept fresh by the breadth of composing talent. There are almost as many different composers as there are songs, with no composer having more than 2 songs to their name. This even applies to the all-stars, like Ryo (Who eventually quit the Vocaloid biz and ended up scoring a certain RPG series [This is called "aftshadowing"])

Since this is a music list, I suppose I should talk about the actual music. It's great and I love it. I concede that it's not for everyone. But if you're the type who enjoys fast, fun J-pop, well, here's a playlist with all the music. You may notice that that playlist has a lot more than 32 songs; this is because it also has music from Project DIVA F 2nd, the sequel with more songs, more sparkle, and more Satan.

There's actually another significant number. Blink, and you'll miss it.

And you know what? Since it has more, perhaps even better, songs, I think I’ll list some more of them here. IDGAF

Miku: SPiCa -39's Giving Day Edition-
Miku & Luka: Akatsuki Arrival
Luka: Luka Luka ★Night Fever
Rin: Roshin Yuukai
Len: Paradichlorobenzene
Meiko: Break it, Break it
Kaito: Cantarella -Grace Edition-

Now, it may seem unnecessarily cruel of me to keep heaping all these vocaloids on you after you thought you were done, but this is actually a kindness. I’m only mentioning F 2nd here so that I won’t have an excuse to make in an entry on my 2015 music list (Coming soon in the year 2018). Now, Project Mirai on the other hand…

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