Archive | June 2012

Some really good soundtracks I found

Some of my favourite games have really nice soundtracks, from artists such as SoulEye, C418, Laura Shigihara and the amazing Danny Baranowsky. The Humble Bundles give you all the soundtracks for their games, and there is a Game Music Bundle that offers x soundtracks for at least one dollar, and y (usually LOADS) extra if you pay over $10. You also get FLACs (really high-quality versions) if you pay extra. I never get this extra bit. As of writing there is a bundle on now. You can get these soundtracks: Plants vs Zombies, Ilomilo, Terraria, Fastfall (Dustforce) and Frozen Synapse, all very good. The extras include Offspring Fling, The Blocks Cometh, Songs for the Cure and Cardinal Quest. Only one day left!!!

Anyway, back to the original idea.

My favourite artist for this kind of music is, without a doubt, Danny Baranowsky. In one word, he is epic. He also makes epic music – my favourite example being Super Meat Boy’s incredibly good soundtrack. You can listen to it on Grooveshark, if you can’t be bothered to buy it from Bandcamp or Steam. He has an inimitable talent for making epic music. Other works of his include the excellent Binding of Isaac soundtrack, Canabalt’s exciting soundtrack and the excellent remastered Cave Story soundtrack. Some of my favourite songs of his is Forest Funk(W1 Light world), Betus Blues(W2 light world), Fast Track to Browntown(W3 boss), Hot Damned(W4 light world) and Rocket Rider(W3 Dark world).

Other artists I like:

Laura Shigihara – I only have her Plants vs Zombies soundtrack but that is very nice indeed – there are only a couple I don’t like so much.

Darren Korb – maker of the very good Bastion soundtrack. It has a wide range of music, from the twitchy fight music Terminal March to the sad theme of the antagonist, Zulf (Mother, I’m Here). It’s very nice indeed.

SoulEye – The only music of his I have is PPPPPP – the VVVVVV soundtrack. This is very retro and electronic, but has some excellent tunes.

BigGiantCircles – he is unusual in that he released an album of game-style music without it being attached to a game (he named it Impostor Nostalgia). I’m not so fond of this one, but there are a couple of gems.

C418 – maker of the ambient music that one barely notices while playing the excellent Minecraft (don’t worry, I have a rant about how good that is coming up). This music is very good background music, designed to be almost invisible. Mostly slow and quiet, it’s very nice.

Tomas Dvorak (Floex) makes very interesting, but highly odd music. The Czechoslovakian artist is a member of Amanita Design, maker of my favourite point-and-click Machinarium. This music fits absolutely perfectly with Machinarium, and my favourite track is The End (the cafe music) or Clockwise Operetta (can’t remember where it’s used, but it’s tense, conspiratorial music).

Zircon – I am particularly fond of his Return All Robots soundtrack. It’s quirky, fun and lively. The Credits Acapella and Smash Those Robots are my favourites.

Gaijin Games –  their BIT.TRIP RUNNER soundtrack is interesting, focusing very much on layering up the sound as the level progresses. The tracks have a strong beat, as required by the gameplay. My favourite track is Tenacity.

Josh Whelchel – his Ravenmark soundtrack is very regal/imperial, and sounds as though it is played by a full orchestra.

Francisco Cerda’s Jamestown soundtrack is very good as well, with some extremely good fight music that suits the top-down spaceship shooter genre very well (like Raiden). My favourite is definitely Prisoner of the Badlands, one of the best manic fighting tracks I know.

So, that was a long post! I recommend you buy the bundle, or just the soundtracks. All the games are good as well, so play those.

Noogai03, over and out!

Cave Story

Of all the indie games I have played, one of my favourite has to be Cave Story. It has a lovely story, adoreable pixel art graphics, a nice soundtrack, and really good gameplay. And to cap it all, the entire game was made by one guy.

The game started as the project of Daisuke Amaya (art name Pixel), who made it in his spare time (he had much more of it then, and it looks like he will never make another game, to my great sadness). Originally it was in Japanese (he is), and called 洞窟物語 or Doukutsu Monogatari. It was (and is) released on the internet as a free download. Later, fans released the Japanese translation pack, which is when the West picked up on it. Later, him (Amaya), Nifflas (a Swedish gamedev guy, maker of Saira and Nightsky, as well as the excellent Knytt and Knytt Stories), and several other people (including the one-and-only Danny Baranowsky for the new soundtrack) worked on a remastered one, with new, better pixel art and better music. The actual game, however, stayed exactly the same, as it should. This one is on WiiWare and Steam, and called Cave Story+. There is also one which just has fancy 3D graphics, but I don’t know so much about it. Nowadays, there is an unofficial fan site, lots of unofficial pixel art, etc. Just Google Image search “Cave Story”.

When asked about the genre, I would say run-and-gun, as well as having Metroidvania elements.It’s a 2D platformer, but it also has guns in it. They’re not overly realistic, usually with unlimited ammo and no reloading. Jumping on your enemies will hurt you, and you have a health bar that fills up when you collect little floating hearts, and increases when you get heart containers, like the Legend of Zelda franchise. When you kill enemies, they drop little bouncing tetrahedrons that level your weapon up when you collect them. As they level up, your weapons fire faster, more powerfully, etc. However, being hit makes you DROP points – you can level down!!! Another problem one encounters is the fact that your weapon’s level will not go beyond 3, and then soaks up all the XP, so you have to switch to other weapons to collect the XP. You meet checkpoints at which you can save, and return to them when you die. These are not too frequent, which is both good and bad (challenging but can be irritating). They are also usually accompanied by a complete health refill.

The gameplay usually revolves around fighting your was down long, corridor-like levels, split up with bosses (which can be very difficult indeed), fetch missions (eg get all the old lady’s dogs back for her) and scripted chunks of the story. The controls are much looser than Super Meat Boy’s (for example), which can be a nuisance, but add to the difficulty.

The storyline revolves around a floating island, on which live somewhat rabbit-like people called the Mimiga. The island was ruled by people wearing the mysterious Demon Crown, which has now been taken by an antagonist called the Doctor. You can see him wearing the Demon Crown, which gives him mysterious powers. His aim at is to get his hands on certain red flowers (which kill the Mimiga). I won’t spoil the storyline for you. You play as an unnamed robot (who you can see above). Amaya nicknamed the robot “Quote”.

The storyline is originally linear, for about half the game, but then your decisions start to have an effect (for example, about halfway though you can take the “coward’s ending” and escape the island on a dragon leaving the Doctor to enslave the Mimiga). There are several characters who you become attatched to, for example Sue and Professor Booster, as well as Balrog, the big (evil) rectangular robot who is made to fight you over and over again by his sadistic sister, Misery.

There’s something about this game that is just NICE. It’s got lovely characters, a great story, great gameplay, and a LOT of charm. Not many games are as charming as this one.

Finally, here is some very good Cave Story fan art, and then the links.

Obviously, they changed how Quote looks, but the rest is so awesome it’s forgiveable.

Right, now for the links. First, I strongly recommend you buy it on Steam (Cave Story+ – the art looks much better and the remastered soundtrack is REALLY nice. I aslo think Daisuke Amaya deserves a reward for his masterpiece (and perhaps a sequel???) The steam page is here.

If you’re a cheapo (or have no money, or just want to see what the old one’s like), the old (and free) version is here, with the English translation pack here. The pack has to be applied to the first download, unless you’re fine playing in Japanese (but most people aren’t, and the story is important). You can find a list to all the ports, translations, etc. on the unofficial site here .

Enjoy!

Verdict: 10/10 (One of my favourite games ever!) A brilliant, perfectly made game with almost nothing wrong with it.

Thank you, Mr. Amaya!

Lol, I love montages

I abandoned the Pixel city, but I’m making a Facebook cover, and I made a profile pic already

The Binding of Isaac (+ DLC!)

I posted earlier about Dungeons of Dredmor, a very fun roguelike made by Gaslamp Games. That was a classic roguelike, randomly generated, turn-based, with leveling up and money.

The Binding of Isaac, on the other hand, is very different. First and foremost, it’s not turn-based. It is divided into rooms, and as you enter them, all the doors close and you fight various monsters. When you have dispatched them all, the doors open again, and you are sometimes rewarded with an item (usually a bomb, a coin, a pill, a Tarot card or a key). Keys are used to open chests and locked doors (such as into treasure rooms or shops), bombs blow stuff up, and coins buy stuff (but can also be used on slot machines or other chance-based items). Pills are like scrolls or potions in Rogue – you originally do not know what they will do, whether good or bad, but learn after trying it. They could make you cry faster, run faster, poison you, slow you down, teleport you… the list goes on. Tarot cards are the same as normal Tarot cards (an alternate card system used for divining in real life), and have set bonuses/curses – they only last for the room you use them in. You can only be carrying one pill/tarot card at a time and unlimited keys/bombs/coins.

The storyline is dark – the title is a direct reference to a passage in the Bible where God asks Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac to him. There is a jerky, clumsy animation (as if drawn by the little boy that Isaac is) at the beginning, with the story narrated over the top. Isaac lives with his (devout Christian) mother, and they are happy. Then Isaac’s mother hears a voice telling her Isaac has been corrupted by sin. She removes all the evil things from his life, such as crayons, electronics and underwear.

Shortly after he hears the voice again, telling her that Isaac must be cut off from the world. She locks Isaac in his room. Finally, she hears the voice again telling her that she must sacrifice Isaac to him as a sign of devotion. She grabs a knife to kill Isaac with, but he escapes down into the basement via a trapdoor.

You explore the level, finding treasure and money, etc, before fighting a boss and advancing to the next floor down. The enemies become tougher each floor, before you face Isaac’s mother as the final boss. I’ve never actually got to the final boss, and the game keeps the “You die, you start again” aspect of roguelikes. You would think this would rapidly get annoying, but the game is different every time, so it’s still fun.

Look at Isaac.

Instead of levelling up like in other Roguelikes, you collect items which increase your range, tears (Isaac’s weapon is his tears), speed, health, etc. One of my favourite things about this game is how all the items you have are displayed on your character. You start off as little Isaac, but usually end with a coat-hanger through your head (increased tears), x-ray specs(can see secret passages), an attack fly circling your head, high heels (increased range), and green, rotting flesh (poison your enemy when they touch you). There are hundreds of items you can find, some which attach to your character, permanently increasing abilities, but also usable items such as “My Little Unicorn” (like an invincistar from the Super Mario franchise), or “Shoop Da Whoop”, which makes you FIREYOURLAZORBLAAAAAAAH!!! The items recharge as you kill enemies. Again, you can only carry one usable item.

The game has a very “cartoon” art direction, but it is still twisted and gory – your enemies explode into chunks of bloody meat on death. The enemies are also pretty horrific – for example there is one type of enemy that originally looked like you, but now has swarms of flies living in its face and coughs them out. The flies then proceed to try to kill you. Other enemies include floating, blood stained heads stitched together with no eyes that shoot blood at you. The bosses are also pretty nasty. One example is “The Duke of Flies” – a ball of skin that is filled with flies, and he floats around and coughs them out, before exploding into a swarm of flies. Another is “Gurdy”, a huge pile of semi-rotting flesh that is alive and spits blood at you, also spawning flies and blood-spitting blobs.

Oh yeah – there are also unlockable characters, such as “Eve” (less health, but creates dead crows that attack when she is hurt, and turns into a monster on half a heart – with a direct Castlevania quote), or Judas, who I have not unlocked yet. They are unlocked by completing achievements – such as making two “deals with the devil” (where you sacrifice hearts for powerful items, such a a laser eye, or replacing your tears with giant lasers) in one game.

The game is made by Edmund McMillen – he is completely heartless. This game is VERY DIFFICULT, in my opinion. This game’s new DLC, The Wrath of the Lamb, makes it even MORE difficult (Not for me then)! However, it adds lots more items, bosses and floors.

I love this, game, it’s difficult not to. The game doesn’t cost much, and is available on Steam here.

One last thing – when you quit, the game says “Are you sure you want me to die?” WHY? IT BREAKS MY HEART! I usually click “No” and carry on playing.

Score: 9/10

Over and out, Noogai03!

Fanfiction

Tried reading some fan fiction (mostly Manga/Anime because I know the story-lines well and they make good fanfics). You’d be surprised how MUCH of it there is, and how good some of it is. I found one which completely re-told the Naruto storyline, but from the perspective of Shikamaru’s sister (she’s not in the Manga or Anime, called Shikako).

Of course, there’s also a lot of completely terrible, grammar and punctuation-free stories with terrible storylines, but you can easily pick those out from the titles (whether they use a capital letter, for example).

If you want to read them, you have to be familiar with the characters and story of something. I suggest becoming familiar with a manga (I recommend Naruto or Bleach, the One Piece fanfics are AWFUL).

The main fanfiction site is http://www.fanfiction.net . Happy reading!

geeksngamers: iwilding: New print! The Orange Box: Portal Epicness, in its purest form. WIN

HIB #5

There’s a SERIOUSLY good Humble Bundle on now. It’s LIMBO, Amnesia: The Dark Descent, SuperBrothers  : Sword  and Sworcery EP and Psychonauts for whatever you want. Pay more than the average and you get Braid, Bastion, Super Meat Boy and Lone Survivor. (You also get all the soundtracks)

All the games are incredible. In particular: Psychonauts (one of the best games ever), Bastion (Great topdown gameplay, lovely graphics, great music, great story and a narrator), Super Meat Boy (A platformer MUCH better than Mario), Braid (a puzzle game about controlling time with lovely graphics) and Amnesia (one of the scariest games ever made).

I haven’t built up the courage to play Amnesia, and I already have Super Meat Boy, Braid and Bastion (so I’m not paying over; I won’t get Lone Survivor(which is a very good 2D psychological survival horror game))

Only a week, BUYBUYBUY!!!