Monday, December 23, 2019

Commentary: Top Ten Videogame Music Tunes

By Cyfir

Most gamers have an opinion about what their favorite video game music is and in this article I will list ten of mine. Of course, you may not agree with this list, but music and sound in general are always a subjective experience. This list was compiled from games that I’ve played and owned. So if you don’t see your favorites here, that’s probably why.


10. Wave Race 64 [Nintendo 64]

Let’s be honest, the music in this game is a big reason for why it’s so memorable today. It’s mellow and fits perfectly with the gameplay and aesthetic of the game.

9. Streets of Rage 2 [Genesis]

Just listen to the opening theme of this game and you will know why. This game is widely regarded as having great music and I would tend to agree.

 8. Guilty Gear XX Accent Core [PlayStation 2]

I just recently picked this game up. There are other versions of this game but this is the one that was available at my local retro game store. I may not be a big fan of the final boss, but I am a fan of her theme song. It’s not often that I fire up a game for the first time and am immediately blown away by the music, but it happened with this game.

7. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty [PlayStation 2]

Hideo Kojima is known for making games which play out like movies, and the soundtrack in this game definitely makes you feel like you’re playing a movie. It’s one of the first games which made me feel that way, and the opening track is still great.

6. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 [Sega Genesis]

I could have put the original Sonic the Hedgehog here too but I believe that the second game in the series is where everything came together both gameplay wise and musically. 

5. Super Mario 64 [Nintendo 64]

I played this game so much as a kid that the songs are still stuck in my head, forever resurfacing and playing. I’m not complaining.

4. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time [Nintendo 64]

I might actually make some people mad by putting this game all the way down at number 4 on this list. While this game is a favorite to many, I actually have a love/hate relationship with it. However, there’s no denying that the music for this game is widely regarded as some of the best music that Nintendo has produced. There are many songs in this game that are unforgettable.

3. Final Fantasy IX [PlayStation]

I’m not an RPG fan at all, but there’s something about this game that grabbed me. The characters are just great. The music also helped. Sure, there are other Final Fantasy games with similar music, but this is the one I played and still play.

2. Rocket Knight Adventures [Sega Genesis]

From the moment you start up Rocket Knight Adventures, the action never stops until the end and the catchy music doesn’t as well. This is one of the better looking Sega Genesis games and one of the best sounding as well. I’m still amazed by how many sound channels they were able to utilize in the compositions on a system that was made in 1988.

1. Night in the Woods [Multiple Platforms]

The music in this game takes my number one spot for just how incredibly haunting it is, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. The compositions will stay in your head long after you’ve finished playing it. Unfortunately, the brilliant composer of these tracks is no longer with us for reasons that I will not get in to due to how complicated the unfortunate situation was, but his music will live on in this masterpiece.


So those are my personal top ten video game soundtracks. I do find it a bit interesting that I ended up choosing games from only a handful of systems. I didn’t plan it that way but it probably has to do with the systems that I grew up with. So what are your favorite video game soundtracks? Did I miss out on an obvious choice? Sound off in the comments below!

Friday, December 20, 2019

Reader Submitted: Subnautica Revisited

By Rita Mariner

I have played SUBNAUTICA now for one game shy of 6500 hours.  You might ask how can you play a game that much and it not get boring?  Simple, the game is never the same, each time you play it.  The developers mix things up, each time you start a new game.  While the basics stay the same, they do like to move some of the elements around to keep you guessing.

The game still has the four basic game modes of play. Survival, where you have to watch your food, water, air and health. Freedom, where you only have to watch your air and health, they figure your automatically watching your food and water.  Hardcore, where you have to watch your food, water, air and health, but you only get one life and if you die, you start over! Ouch.  Creative, you don't have to worry about anything, you get all blueprints from the start and build everything at no cost. Basically you ignore the storyline and just explore for fun.

Since I have been playing, there was a huge update to the game and they installed a new graphics engine, which is suppose to make the textures pop more.  It might have, but it also caused havoc with the game, tossing bugs in everywhere.  Which I constantly ran into and reported and they have seemed to have fixed most of them. I still run into new ones, or at least I think they are bugs. They might have changed the story slightly.  Who knows.

The best thing I love about the game, is building.  Make your builder tool, collect all the blueprints to all the base modules and elements and go to town.  What you can create, is limited only by your own imagination and how much time you willing to devote to collecting the resources needed to building your dream home.  I have come up with a design that works wonderfully for me. It does take several hours to collect the blueprints and then the resources to build it.  Followed by zipping around to various wrecks to loot them for collectibles, to decorate my base. There are toys, posters, lab gear, caps, dolls all waiting for you to discover, grab and put on display in your new base.

Then we have Time Capsules.  These little surprise gift packages are what other players leave behind, when they depart the planet in their escape rocket.  They can put in a few items, a picture and some comments who comes across it.  You never know what will be in the capsule.  Could be some good stuff, could be useless stuff, but to open one, you will need at least six open spots in your inventory.

There are also numerous different biomes in the game and each is unique.  Not only in how they look, but in the flora and fauna that dwells within.  I have also learned hat each of these biomes specializes in one or more resource.  For example.  The Jellyshroom Caverns, are brimming with Gold, Lithium and Magnetite, but not much else. Unless you count Crabsnake trying to eat you.  The Lost Tree Biome contains Nickel, Crystal Sulfur, Lead, Silver, Titanium, Copper, some Lithium, some Magnetite, but also a rather unfriendly Ghost Leviathan and a bunch of nasty River Prowlers and Blood Crawlers.

The last biome you need to tackle is the Lava Zone.  Here you need to go to collect Kyanite to finish construction on your vehicles to complete the game.  You you also run into WARPER Central, LAVA Lizards and the Sea Dragon.  If you remember the old saying, busier than a one legged man, at a butt-kicking contest.  This is the place it can happen, and it isn't fun. If they all gang up on you, RUN and try to fix your PRAWN Suit and heal yourself ASAP.  You will have no place to go otherwise.

The Thermal Plant is in the area, once you collect enough Kyanite, find the entrance on the mountain. Go through it to the Thermal Plant, get the needed date inside.  Make your up grades. Come back, then head to the Primary Alien Containment Faciltily a short walk away to meet the Sea Emperor, help her out. get the cure, turn off the cannon (important), then blast your booty off the planet.  Simple enough.  Not really, the last few items will take you about three hours, if you know what you're doing and if you have the resources to make the potion on hand, add a few more hours, if you don't.  Isn't Subnautica fun?  I love it!

Rita Mariner

Monday, December 2, 2019

Video Game Collecting: Part Two - How To Cheaply Start Collecting Video Games

By Cyfir

In my last article on this subject, I wrote about why I started collecting physical video games again. In this installment, I’ll be focusing on how I acquired 100 physical games and 11 systems in under a year without breaking the bank. With video game collecting being the equivalent of comic book collecting in this day and age, how did I do this?

As I mentioned in the last article, I’m far from rich. In fact, I’m quite the opposite at this point in my life. However, I’m fairly thrifty, so I’ve been able to find some pretty good deals and obtain many of my childhood games and systems back. The first place I started was Nintendo Entertainment System games. While I had an Atari 2600 in my household growing up, it wasn’t until the NES that I started to gain an appreciation for video games. It just so happens that many great titles for the NES are dirt cheap, usually selling at retro video game store for more or less $5. Of course there are more expensive titles, but my most expensive NES game was $25. Another system that is super cheap to collect for now is PlayStation 2.

Now, I wouldn’t rely on just retro video game stores. They usually want to make a profit, and their prices often reflect that. You can sometimes find good or fair enough deals in them, and I do believe that it is important to support them as they provide a valuable resource, but you’re not going to find everything or always get the best deals there. I would also check out local flea markets, thrift stores, and even Facebook Marketplace (but please use caution when meeting strangers from FaceBook and making deals with them. They may try to scam you or you could end up in a dangerous situation.)

My area doesn’t have a ton of games at Goodwill, but I’ve heard that it’s different throughout the country. I’ve had much better luck at flea markets and my area has a handful of them. In my experience, pawn shops don’t have the best deals. They want to make as big of a profit on their inventory as possible, but your mileage may vary.

Before you head out, it’s important to have a list of all the games and systems you’re looking for and check the fair prices on those items. I use an Android app called Gameye to keep a wishlist as well as keep track of all the games and systems that I already own (and accidentally buying duplicates is a thing that happens; trust me.) I also use a site called PriceCharting to make sure that I’m not overpaying too much for a game.

Never be afraid to buy a game or system that looks dirty or has something internally wrong with it, as long as it’s at a fair price. Many games and systems are decades old and it’s unfair to think that you’re going to find something in pristine condition all the time. Cleaning and fixing games and systems is actually not a bad way to get in to a new and fun hobby and could end up saving you a ton of money. For instance, you could find a Sega Dreamcast that doesn’t play discs, and the person selling it is offering it for $5. You could get a disc drive assembly online for around $15 and open it up and replace it. Now you have a Sega Dreamcast for $20 when they’re going for upwards of $60 or more. There are plenty of YoutTube videos and tutorials out there on how to clean and fix games and systems. If you’re new to it, I would take your time, take pictures as you go, and keep track of all the screws. Also, when screwing things back together, turn counter clockwise first until the threads slip in properly. Most of the plastic on old games and systems are old and brittle and are prone to strip or break.

In conclusion, it’s not enough to do any of the above if you’re just going to go crazy and buy everything you see. Be strict on yourself. I only allow myself to go game hunting once per payday. Keep a budget in mind as much as possible and try to avoid temptation. That’s easier said than done sometimes, but we’re adults now and we should be able to maintain a budget. Finally, collect what you enjoy. I would never recommend going out and buying something just because it’s valuable. Sure, if you find a copy of a rare and expensive game for $5, grab that, but don’t go out of your way for it. I personally only collect what I have nostalgia for or what I want to play. After all, that’s what it’s all about.