Monday, June 15, 2015

Video game music artists you should be listening to

Like many of you, I live, eat, sleep and breathe video games. As I write, I wear an Aperture Laboratories t-shirt. Link, Luigi, Ezio and friends adorn my shelves. A framed picture of The Normandy sits on my desk at work. The original Game Boy power noise alerts me of each text. So it should come as no surprise that the music I listen to is no exception. My phone is filled to the brim with video game remixes, chiptune artists, and straight up soundtracks. Just as much as I love listening to them, though, I love to share them. Most of these artists have an incredible amount of talent, but go unrecognized, given that video game music isn't exactly blowing up the radio. So I wanted to share some of my favorite video game music artists and remixers, in case some of you out there enjoy it as much as I do.

Serving as the inspiration for this piece, I found out about Jayster most recently. His style is heavily 8-bit, and his remixes don't stray far from the classic NES and SNES roots of gaming music. If it's chill background or study music you're looking for, look no further.

Joshua Morse
As mentioned in part 3 of my Mega May coverage, Joshua Morse is at the top of my list when it comes to video game remix artists. More than simple 8-bit midi beats, Joshua Morse injects all of the songs he remixes with a heavy dose of his own flair, covering everything from Final Fantasy to Castlevania, Sonic the Hedgehog, Mega Man, Street Fighter, and even Sim City. His newest album, Arcade Attack, was released in April, and is a must-listen for fans of Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo.

DJ Cutman
Taking his name (and costume when he performs) straight out of Mega Man, DJ Cutman pumps out some head-bobbing jams by remixing them with thumping bass, for a much more techno/house music feel. Don't worry, his music spans no shortage of games and systems, not just Mega Man as his name implies.

Most known for creating the entire soundtrack for the Scott Pilgrim video game, Anamanaguchi creates all original music, but in a chiptune style that's hard not to love. Even if it isn't straight up video game music, you can't help but hearken back to the glory days of the NES when you hear their upbeat jams.

iTunes, Amazon
Game Grumps hosts Arin and Dan, along with Dan's band mate Ninja Brian, form the comedy group Starbomb. Their music as a feel similar to other comedy rap groups like The Lonely Island, and is definitely not for kids. That said, it's always good for a laugh, and no games or characters are safe.

Have you ever wanted to hear your favorite video game song sung acapella by the same guy in nine different harmonies? Well then look no further, SmoothMcgroove has got your back.

The Warp Zone
iTunes, Amazon
These guys aren't necessarily straight up musicians, but YouTube comedy channel The Warp Zone has plenty of jams from a wide variety of games. Whether it be Weird Al-style parodies of existing songs, or their catchy "Unplugged" versions of classic game music, they've got something for everyone.

Not all of this music is available through conventional means like iTunes, Amazon, and Google Play. But worry not! I've got you covered. functions as a label of sorts for video game remix artists. Joshua Morse and DJ Cutman are among their artists, and one of my favorite (and most played) albums, the all Sonic the Hedgehog "Spindash," came from this site.

If you're looking for the official soundtracks to your most beloved games, is the place to go. This site has an absurd amount of game soundtracks pulled straight from the source. These aren't remixed or 8-bitted, but if you want the official song you remember so dearly, here's the place to look. Personally, I've nabbed the Devil May Cry OST from this site, which comes in two volumes, and contains every scrap of music from DMC 1-4.

Not every artist is lucky enough to make it to the bigtime. Those who don't, but still want to share their music choose This pay-what-you-want site is bustling with chiptune and remix artists. Joshua Morse, Jayster, DJ Cutman, and so many more can be found here.

The best part of sites like BandCamp, YouTube, and even iTunes is that their libraries are always growing, and there's no way to hear it all. So I want to hear your suggestions! What artists do you love that I missed? No, seriously...I need more. MOOOOORE!!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Mega May! week 4

Much like the last few bittersweet hours of Christmas day each year, here we are at the end of Mega May. We've seen the highs and lows. We've seen some of the greatest fan tributes, and the most heart-wrenching betrayals by Capcom. What could there possibly be left? How about an entire Mega Man-style game being released this year, made by MM co-creator Keji Inafune, entirely funded by Kickstarter? Let's also not forget Mega Man's most entertaining cameos!

Mighty No. 9

In late 2010, series co-creator Keji Inafune, often referred to as the father of Mega Man*, left Capcom, and created his own indie company named Comcept. On August 31, a Kickstarter was created for a project called Mighty No. 9. Three days later, it was funded, eventually reaching over 400% of it's initial goal.

The game follows Beck, a blue robot who has to fight eight robot masters. Yes, it's a shameless, straight up Mega Man clone. That is nowhere near a bad thing, though, in fact it's what fans have been wanting for years! Since it's creation, the game has been progressing along according to schedule, and will be released this coming September on PlayStation 3, 4, Vita, Xbox 360, One, 3DS, Wii U, PC, Mac, and Linux.

*Author's note: That's not entirely true. The first ever design was drawn by MM 1 director Akira Kitamura, but Inafune did become an integral part of the series moving forward. Inafune is also credited for creating Zero, whose design was intended to be that of Mega Man X. The higher ups thought the change would be too drastic, but they still loved the character design, so Zero was created as a new character. Okay, tangent over.

Mega Man's Best Cameos/Crossovers
Dead Rising was basically a love letter from Capcom to Capcom. They seemed to very much enjoy filling their game with references to themselves. The best of these, though, is Megaman X's helmet and buster. In the beginning of the game, the buster can be found in a toy store, and shoots toy balls at zombies, doing no damage. But if you have the dedication to kill (literally) every single zombie, you'll earn the real buster gun in your next playthrough.

The Monster Hunter series has been cranking out free costume DLC for a while now, and fairly recently, MM was invited to join the fray. There's just something sickeningly adorable about a cat dressed in a blue onesie in Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate.

Megaman has had no shortage of appearances in fighting games, but to me the most noteworthy is his anime style appearance in the stellar fighter, Marvel VS Capcom 2. His appearance, movement, and voice are all reminiscent of his appearance in MM8, and his special attack is not only the most fun to watch, but also one of the most powerful in the game, even though he has never once transformed into a huge robot in any of his previous games. But who cares? It's awesome!

In the late 80s, Nintendo created a cartoon show called Captain N. In it, every kid's fantasy came true: a boy gets sucked into the video game he's playing, and gets to fight bad guys along side characters like Simon Belmont, Kid Icarus (not Pit, apparently), an anthropomorphic Game Boy, and yes, even Megaman. How cool is that?

Well...not at all, actually. Basically, none of the characters ended up looking even remotely close to their video game counterparts, with Simon Belmont ending up as an ice climber of sorts, and Megaman looking like...well, this.

While not his best cameo, it does have a strange appeal to it, in a sort of "so bad it's good" way.

And with that, it's time to say farewell to Mega May 2015. Hopefully we can look forward to next year being filled with new game announcements for this classic character, but I wouldn't put any money on it. Until then, don't forget that throughout this month, Nintendo has added six GBA Mega Man titles to the Wii U Virtual Console, and the spiritual successor Mighty No. 9 will soon be upon us, so there's still plenty of opportunity to get your Blue Bomber fix!