Sunday 26 April 2015

Video Game Music: Tales of Symphonia

The sound quality on this album isn't great with its use of old-style synth beats (it can't compare to the Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch soundtrack for example) but given Tales of Symphonia's release on the Nintendo Gamecube in August 29, 2003, what else do we expect?

In my view, this still makes for a very memorable and fine album - a fitting complement to a fine game in itself :)

Ranked List

1. The Land of Sylvarant: Almost too happy, this feel-good and over-joyous melody that plays in the Overworld to Sylvarant will make you feel all bright and cheery, and, perhaps, a little corny. There is also a huge nostalgic component to this theme.
1. Tales of Symphonia Opening Theme: Anime or not, this is a really fantastic theme. It's passionate and emotional and makes for a great introduction to the game.

3. Venturer's Colony (Hima): I could almost write the same description here as I did with #1. It's another vibrant melody, almost a bit too vibrant for a village theme. Indeed, this is the music of the Village of Adventurers.

4. Renegade Base: A funky, upbeat and cool rhythm - almost suggestive of a greater secret waiting to be told - is fitting music for the Renegade Base.

5. Full Force: Surprisingly, and perhaps, appropriately, the standard normal battle theme is a lot more serious than the world map theme.

6. Walking on Tethe'alla: Triumphant and glorious sounding music - the upbeat melody acts as an invitation to all gamers ready for a new adventure.

7. Like A Glint of Light: A cheerful battle, whose victorious and upbeat music makes it sound like our characters are guaranteed the win.

8. Search a Seal (Sylvarant) or Search a Seal (Tethe'alla): The sense of intrigue and mystery is well encapsulated by both these themes. Given its escalating intensity (mixed with a tinge of hope), the latter version sounds better.

9. The Struggle to Survive: The full weight of the world suddenly rests upon your shoulders when you listen to this dramatic, tense and scary boss battle music.

Special mentionOld Familiar Scent of Iselia: A childhood dream and that longing to be home are the flavours of this theme


Andre Lim

PS. I'd really like to review some more board games soon - I just haven't had the time and drive to do it just yet.

Saturday 18 April 2015

World Cup Qualifiers 2018: AFC

What an interesting draw.

- Groups A, G and H look more difficult than the others: G and H in particular because Bahrain, North Korea, Kuwait and Lebanon are not pushovers.

- Australia, Japan and China have very kind draws but we all remember what it was like for Australia to play against the Saudis in desert conditions and near 40 degree heat. Away games are ALWAYS difficult.

- I read that the Chinese coach is worried about drawing Qatar, a team he believes are the "strongest" second pot team.

- It would be nice to see Indonesia, Singapore or Malaysia do well - they always get knocked out?? It would be nice to see any other minnow do well for that matter. I'd like to see a random country qualify for the final round of qualifying.

- The matches in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, both neighbours, will be very interesting.

Andre Lim

Saturday 11 April 2015

Video Game Music: Kingdom Hearts

A brilliant album from Yoko Shimomura, Kingdom Hearts will hold a place in the hearts of many fans - regardless of whether they enjoyed the Final Fantasy series or not.

Admittedly, this list is a bit of a cop out because I have four two entries tied on fourth place. I had a hard time deciding between those, and I don't really want to decide their proper positions to be honest.

The album is just pure quality.

Ranked List

1) To Our Surprise - Madness and chaos. A fast-tempo beat and a flurry of quick rhythms and melodies makes for a crazy and heart-racing experience. Panic and anxiety attacks also come to mind. Any kind of busy commotion would complement this music.  Plays in Wonderland.


2) Deep Jungle - A great theme that captures the picture of a wild and ferocious jungle, and the tribal hoo-hah that goes along with that. The energetic and pronounced entry grabs the attention of the listener immediately. The somewhat solemn rhythm and upbeat notes warn the gamer to be on their guard. I was tempted to tie this with To Our Surprise but I think I have to put my foot down here and just admit that I prefer the wacky melody in To Our Surprise.

3) Hikari - Kingdom (Orchestra Instrumental Version) - An emotional, sentimental and nostalgic roller-coaster ride makes this one of the great "hallmark themes" of Kingdom Hearts.

4) Traverse Town - A soothing jazz melody. Although the piece is short and repetitive, the nostalgia factor is huge. As one friend put it, the theme makes you feel like Traverse Town is the ideal place to be. The music tells the audience that Traverse Town surely must be a nice and warm place, bustling with friendly people and faces.

4) Merlin's Magical House - Eccentricity and a whirling merry-go-round (carnival-like) melody go hand-in-hand in this theme.

6) Winnie the Pooh -  A cute and warm melody, something out of a children's fairytale.

7) Destiny Islands - Music indicative of a tropical paradise with light-hearted melodies and beats. Surprisingly the theme is also slightly sentimental, as if the protagonists of our game are about to grow up very quickly. The music almost hints at an underlying backdrop of sweet childhood memories.

Taken from:

8) Never Land Sky - A triumphant, somewhat poignant and cheery melody.

Special Mention: Under the Sea. Doesn't feel appropriate to put this classic into this list. But it sounds great.

I haven't actually gone through the whole album like I usually do, so I may add more here from time to time.


Andre Lim

Monday 6 April 2015

Video Game Music: Crash Bandicoot 2 - Cortex Strikes Back

Equally as impressive as the first soundtrack.

Mark Mothersbaugh is incredibly consistent.

Ranked List

For the record, it was incredibly difficult separating the first two songs on this list.

1) Warp Room Theme: I chose this as my #1 because of the huge nostalgia factor. The happy-go-lucky carefree melody coupled with those electronic notes makes for a great warp room theme as Crash carefully selects which adventure/level he is about to embark on.

2) Piston it Away, Spaced Out: An amalgamation of synthetic lines and mechanical, half-techo, rhythms and beats. This was originally my favourite piece of music, until I had a think about it.

3) Dr N Gin Boss Music: The rocking of the synthetic guitar and the tense notes create this impression that Crash is about to face a very tough battle (not as tough as the music suggests though).

4) Road to Ruin, Ruination: There is something about this theme that gives it some swagger. Perhaps it is the tempo and rhythm, coupled with the interesting "Aztec" (if I can call it that) melody and the interjection of the vocalist. However the theme becomes more interesting in the mid-portions, with some longer drawn out notes and a change in tone that, to me, sounds like a yearning or longing for something.

4) Rock it, Pack Attack: Taking the player on a ride down insanity street, the music starts off slow, wacky and almost delusional - as if Crash is out of touch with reality (possibly reflecting the emotion/excitement of Crash as he begins his journey through outer space). The music speeds up and turns a bit too crazy for my total liking, but the opening to mid-portion of this song is simply fantastic.

6) Turtle Woods, The Pits, Night Fight: A relaxed, happy and casual stroll through the woods, with an almost tribal sort of flavour. A fitting theme for the first level of the game (from memory).

7) Hang Eight, Air Crash, Plant Food: A groovy melody, reminscent of days gone past. Reminds me of surfers trying to latch onto a huge wave.

As usual, I have probably missed a gem or two. If realised, I will come back to amend this list.


Andre Lim