Saturday 20 June 2015

Video Game Music: Rayman Origins

What a lovely game. I just finished Rayman Origins last Sunday.

If you are a perfectionist and are impatient, I highly recommend that you do NOT play this game - unless you don't mind sacrificing hours upon hours of your time.

That particular combination of characteristics is lethal.  Playing this game, and getting all the achievements, requires a huge amount of grit and determination!

Cover Art

I can't count how many times I've died in this game.

But it is all worth it as the music, visuals and general theme of the game is quite amazing, creative and imaginative.

If I had to rate it I'd probably give it a 8+ out of 10. The repetitiveness of trying to complete the level with a perfect score got to me towards the end, but apart from that, the game is otherwise quite excellent.

As you might be able to tell, my favourite level in this game is, by a country mile, the Sea of Serendipity.

For the record, the most annoying levels, in my opinion are:
  • Mecha No Mistake (Time Trial) - I still have not finished this. This is the only time trial I have not received the Cup in.
  • Swimming with Stars (Time Trial) - Barely made the time trial.
  • Fickle Fruit (if you are unaware of when the level is going to finish and you are aiming for the Lum Medal): The bouncing fruit in this level (and timing when to hit the iceblocks) makes this level crazy.
  • Land of the Livid Dead - just plain hard.
  • Pirate's Treasure! - easily the hardest Tricky Treasure or red tooth level as you must get the timing and speed right to progress through the last part (where you climb up the masts), which is unforgiving. Even being half a second too slow will cause you to die!
My favourite boss was the Mockingbird.

Ranked List

Please note that many of the tracks on this soundtrack are amazing but I've not listed all of them out.

I'm going to do the lazy thing here and put 3 tracks on 2nd place and 2 tracks on 5th place.

1. Land of the Livid Dead ~ Chasing a Dream: Like Land of the Livid Dead ~ Nowhere to Run (Reprise), this has a strong rodeo or Outback flavour to it. I like the solemn vocals and, perhaps, the bittersweet emotion that the track tries to evoke. It's as if we are journeying with Rayman into the sunset, as he embarks on his lone wolf adventure to save the world. Clearly it is a hero's tale of courage and grace. A fitting hero's farewell.

Copyright, presumably, belongs to Ubisoft

2. Sea of Serendipity ~ Lums of the Water (Glou Glou): A cheerful, uplifting melody sung by a multitude of high-pitched lums (creatures of the game). It's scat singing taken to absurdity. Chaotic, possibly annoying, but undeniably catchy.

2. World Map ~ Sea of Serendipity: The nostalgic and heartfelt whistling makes for a great melody that warms your spirit and heart. There is a great feeling of hope embedded in this tune, almost as if we are singing to our own happy ending. The ukulele (or whatever that stringed instrument is) provides a nice accompaniment as well. It is a bit minimalistic and simple but that's the way I like it.

2. Land of the Livid Dead ~ Nowhere to Run (Reprise): A sad and sentimental piece that has a nice Western or Outback flavour to it. Ruined a bit by the ugly singing before the choral music starts! The whistle tune alone is gold, and, if by itself, it could easily top this list.

Copyright, presumably, belongs to Ubisoft
5. Sea of Serendipity~ The Lums' Dream (Glou lou): I like the chill and eerie aura this song brings. to the table. On the right day this song could make #1 on this list.

5. Jibberish Jungle ~ A Slap-Happy Start: After the introductory ramblings, this tune transforms into something very cheerful and light-hearted through the effective use of the piano/keyboard, steady beat and melodic wind music - that is the part I enjoy very much.

7. Moody Clouds ~ Steampunk Suspense: There is a distinct excitement and buzz in the air. We are making progress!!!

7. Moody Clouds ~ The Mecha Factory: I was very surprised to find this tune in this soundtrack - it is almost out of place. The Mecha Factory boasts epic music on a grand scale that, in some respects, reminds me of Final Fantasy. It's a tad too short though.

Copyright, presumably, belongs to Ubisoft
7. Jibberish Jungle ~ Advancement: That feeling of steady progression and being on the up - the track's title suits this to the T.

10. Mystical Pique ~ Scaling the Mountains: Epic "rite of passage" chanting coupled with victorious music.

11. Desert of Dijiridoos - Breaking the Force Field: A variation to the ending part of many levels. Each world has its own version. Pretty cool.

12. World Map ~ Jibberish Jungle: A funky rhythm, cool variations and a nice beat.

13. Gourmand Land ~ Frozen Paradise: A nice calming melody - reminiscent of a place to unwind or have your peace of mind.

Copyright, presumably, belongs to Ubisoft

14. Gourmand Land ~ Dashing Thru the Fire: I like this tune purely because it is hilarious. "Ai Ai Ai." The best part is when the deep voice comes on AYYY AYYY AYY. Something appears to be very funny to these singing Mexicans - leaving the rest of us bamboozled as we have no idea what is going on. Perhaps the nature of the theme can best be explained when one considers that the frozen levels of Gourmand Land are suddenly (and quite randomly) replaced by these "hot" Mexican levels.

The expression "Ayy ayy ayy" reminds me of that casual phrase (Aiyah!) that many Asians say when something unfortunate happens.

Special Mention

Gourmand Land ~ Glacier Cocktail: A groovy and upbeat melody. Can't think of where to put it on the list.

Desert of Dijiridoos ~ First Staffs: A steady build up to some nice notes but too overdrawn for me. The shorter version is World Map ~ Desert of Dijiridoos.

Desert of Dijiridoos ~ Lost Beats: Great assortment of tribal rhythms and beats. Deserves a place on the list but I've, unfairly, been unable to decide its position.

Level End ~ Yes More Lums!: A great victory melody worthy of any major platformer! Really should sit at about #5 on the above list.

Sea of Serendipity ~ The Abyss: Dark, mysterious ambient noises coupled with a creepy tune.


Andre Lim

Friday 12 June 2015

Video Game Music: Final Fantasy I

What a great game franchise. I start with #1.

Nobuo Uematsu is a household name that I have grown up with over the years.
I used to have a whole bunch of screenshots from this game but I can't find the folder where it's at (it is relevant to, and coincides with, my permanent deletion of my Facebook account).

I am a bit lazy to describe the tracks listed here so I will keep it to the bare minimum.

Ranked List

1) Matoya's Cave: This has a nice warm and nostalgic feel to it. I feel like I have just arrived home after a long journey.

2) Battle Scene: In terms of tempo or rhythm, more or less similar to many of the earlier (?) battle themes in the Final Fantasy series in its infancy. This probably comes down to the technology available to Nobuo Uematsu (I am thinking of synth music on the Nintendo Entertainment System or the Super Nintendo Entertainment System). When you get to FF7 onwards it seems as though the battle themes became a lot more complex. 

3) World Map/Main Theme - The sense of exploration and adventure, like all famous world map themes, is replicated very well here.

3) Town: Sentimental and sweet. Touching.

5) Inside a Boss Battle: A rush of blood to the head, this tune encapsulates the frantic action required in a tough boss battle. It feels wrong placing this at #5 but I am not in the mood to play around with this. Potentially it could be #2.

6) Last Battle: Epic organs and a fitting battle music for Chaos, the final boss.

7) Gurugu Volcano (Mt Gulg): An ominous and mysterious tune, yet inviting and bright enough to peak your interest.

8) Ruined Castle: Chilling to the bone - as if something sad has occurred here.

9) Chaos Shrine: Creepy and subtly sinister music

Special Mention

Floating Castle: Music for a sinister and eerie carnival. I really like this theme but can't think of a place to put this on the list.

Victory: This is the typical fanfare melody for the Final Fantasy series.

Prelude: Also a typical staple in the FF series, this theme usually appears at the beginning, or near the beginning, of every Final Fantasy game. There was one game, I think, where it wasn't but I can't recall off the top of my head.

Andre Lim