RE: My Top 20 Favourite Video Game Tracks

Since Noa @CritiqueQuest tagged us all in her Top 20 Favourite Video Game Tracks I thought I might as well make a full-fledged reply mainly because (1) I have way too many favourites to be crammed into a one sentence response and (2) I adore her channel. (and I promise you will too so please hurry up and subscribe/follow!)

Here is my top 10 + honorable mentions.

A Love Suicide [Rule of Rose] The only track we both have in common. I remember having it on repeat for weeks, and it looks like I’m in it again.

Can’t Say Goodbye to Yesterday [Metal Gear Solid 2] As much as I love Snake Eater I think it’s the weakest in the soundtrack department. Too much Bond oriented for my taste, I like to pretend the theme song never happened. Son’s of Liberty’s ending theme however is a different story.

God and Man [God Eater Burst] This game has been painfully underrated, the OST in general doesn’t necessarily stand out but this song is probably one of my highest rated vocal tracks. Also, it did take me a while to realize it’s Donna Burke singing.

Memories of the City [Persona 3] Choosing a favourite track from the Persona games is nearly impossible but this one fits so well with the ending events in the third game I thought I would pick it over Signs of Love which had been my most-loved for a long time.

Null Moon [Silent Hill 2] A list without a Silent Hill 2 OST would be wrong, wouldn’t it? It doesn’t really matter which track it is though since they are all equally beautiful, very sombre and dreamlike. Null Moon in particular stands out a bit more than the rest.

Pillow Stains [Deadly Premonition] The OST in this game might be hit and miss but whenever this song plays (does it actually play in the game?) it adds volumes to the atmosphere.

Temple of Drifting Sands [NieR] Even if you have not played this title you surely must have heard of the soundtrack. It’s as good as everyone says it is. There are no duds here, each and every piece is beautifully composed whether it is Ashes of Dreams, Grandma or Shadowlord.

Time’s Scar [Chrono Cross] Classic. A classic title I have yet to play (probably not going to happen), this composition however is a thing of beauty.

Salt Flats (The) [Final Fantasy VIII] Both that and Seeking Power from XII do an amazing job at fitting into the background of snowy landscapes. It’s hard to decide which one is better but I’m picking Salt Flats because let’s face it VIII is a better game.

You Were Here [ICO] Another stunning piece that deserves a mention.

* Here are the extras since clearly I could go on forever …

Distant Memories Folklore, Prologue- to the Ancient Land [Shadow of Colossus], A Deus [Grandia 2], Please love me … once more [Silent Hill 3], Empty Loneliness [Valkyria Chronicles], Agni Ratha, Imperial Capital [Xenoblade Chronicles], Coastal Thailand [Tomb Raider: Underworld]

What are your most-loved tracks?

Silent Hill

RadioSH2_mod

Silent Hill has always been one of a very few series I hold dear to my heart. I stumbled upon it accidentally while picking up Silent Hill 2 copy back in my early Playstation 2 days when gaming magazines and demo discs were my only source of information. Even though I had known very little about it I vaguely remembered a video teaser that pigued my interest. I quickly became obsessed with the story, setting, characters, themes, soundtrack and level design. Hence I hurried to purchase all the remaining titles at that time right away (the original Silent Hill, and then 3 and 4: The Room) and I ended up playing them for hours until there was nothing left to explore or unlock. Even though they were all great it was Silent Hill 2 that in my opinion has been one of the most complex, clever and thought provoking titles out there. When I think of my second favourite The Room might be the one. Eerie is the right word to describe the atmosphere best. It might differ a lot to the think and heavy undertones in Silent Hill 2 and it does take a contrasting approach to gameplay mechanics and storytelling but it somehow manages to preserve the Silent Hill vibe. Nevertheless I always feel like it does not get enough recognition for what it is.

When it comes to Origins I remember having mixed feelings towards it. I think it took me two playthroughs to eventually admit I adored the game. While I still think the protagonist, his personal journey and the overall plot itself take a major backseat, many other aspects like level design, puzzles and gameplay are done incredibly well. Areas like sanitarium, motel and plenty of others are fun to explore and the combat is challenging and rewarding. Breakable weapons did not bother me since there is always a good deal to collect and use so if you are an obsessive hoarder you will enjoy it.

The issue I have had with Homecoming is that I find it forgettable. There is not a lot to the game that would make me want to replay and/or discuss and certainly the infamous Scarless boss battle everyone always seem to mention (as I do too because it definitely is a highlight) is not enough. I found it overly straighforward, lacking mystery and ambiguity. It did gameplay better than the first two or three games yes but I did not see it as a huge advantage. I would rather have the quality of the plot and characters rivaled instead since this is where I aways my attention on. The level design is the most bland and lazy out of the whole series in my eyes so I found it very disappointing in comparison to the distinctive design of the early games and after a suprisingly detailed Origins. For instance, how painfully flat and vacant Grand Hotel is when compared to the Lakeview Hotel interiors?

Shattered Memories is an odd title and I still cannot decide how I feel about it. For a long time I had refused to take it seriously. I could not see the point of following a what-if path of events that never took place. However, I kind of like it now. I grew to appreciate the bizarre or surreal atmosphere and interactions with the characters. If it was not for the dreadful chase sequences that do not add anything to the game other than frustration and a very weak way of implementing psychology I would have praised it more.

Finally, I have been seeing mainly tons of positive feedback in regards to Downpour. I would say it is actually getting slightly too much credit for what it is and in my opinion is the weakest in the series. I was not a fan of the gameplay. I did not mind the weapons but the inventory was frustrating. Healing yourself while being chased or in battle is a pain, map could have been more accessible and I lost count on how many times I accidentally launched my weapons in the air. That however is not the main root of the problem. What’s more important is the plot and characters being less than engaging. It almost feels like there is a decent beginning and an ending while nothing fascinating is going on in between. In consequence it did feel like a chore and for that reason I never bothered to replay it.

Overall I really have not been impressed nor fully satisfied with the quality of the recent Silent Hill titles. As you may know a new entry has been announced and I both wish and hope for it to craft levels with more care and style and not neglect the plot in favour of the gameplay. Judging by the playable demo (PT) from last year it might be likely to come true at least in the atmosphere department.

How do you feel about the series? What titles are your favourite and why?

#PSP Heroes

Persona_3

Playstation Portable has been the system I would reach for rather frequently these past few years. Not only because it has been perfectly handy to game in bed or on the go but also due to a great number of titles I fell in love with and played regardless of the time and place. 2015 will likely be the year I upgrade to Vita (mind you, my wishlist is already quite hefty) therefore here’s a roundup of the games I found remarkable.
1. SMT: Persona 3 Portable
I always do mention it no matter the occasion or context. It still remains an all time favourite of mine (together with Silent Hill 2 & Final Fantasy VIII/X, it is tricky to choose one as they are so different). It’s a ridiculously addictive blend of an exhilarating battleplay, complex story and multidimentional characters. You will be hooked I promise, even if RPGs are not your cup of tea.
2. God Eater Burst
A treasure within the library. Challenging enemy fights, rich customisation, likable characters and a plot that does not dissapoint. Online mode makes it even better especially because the boss battles might be a bit problematic while in a single player mode. A sequel has not been announced for the West sadly.
3. Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
Set in between Portable Ops and Ground Zeroes timeline. Another quality title in the series with heaps of replayablility, online features work like a dream making the battles even more exciting. Don not let the ‘tiny’ screen fool you, this IS a proper entry to the saga. A must have for any MGS fan.
4. Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky
This one might seem a bit generic at the first glance and the first hour into the game but it did manage to grow on me. I would say it’s perfect for the jRPG newbies because it’s so well-balanced and not overly lenghty or complex. The generous dose of charm makes it stand out from the crowd.
5. Valkyria Chronicles II
A brilliant follow up to an already amazing predecessor. Gameplay is more layered this time around and an online mode adds a lot to the fun. I spent weeks working on my squad, growing fond of my team members and mastering the scores thanks to the great cast of characters. Excellent soundtrack as well as you would expect from Hitoshi Sakimoto.
What are the titles you have enjoyed playing on the PSP?

Walking in a Winter Wonderland |the gaming edit

287px-FF12_-_Treasure_Urn_(Snow)

As you all know I value a good level design so much I am practically obsessed when it comes to that feature. Whenever I play something new, or let’s be realistic here-most of the time old, I will take a great pleasure from exploring the scenery and the backgrounds with my magpie eye leaving the mains for later or last. For this entry I originally thought of making it Christmas oriented but eventually settled for a selection of winter themed landscapes I have had the most fun investigating.

If there is anything that stands out in Eternal Sonata it has to be the Baroque City. To me this is the ultimate winter area every RPG seems to always feature. It is definitely one of the most detailed areas in the game, it almost resembles landscapes you would find in an old picture book from childhood.

A very similar one that comes to mind would be Yule from Ni no Kuni, a village covered mostly in ice rather than snow where the aurora is easy to spot. It oozes with charm but so do the remaining levels to be honest.

Final Fantasy XII might not have been the title I had fallen in love instantaneously with but when it comes to level design it had a great and plentiful amount of scenery to offer. The variety of the wilderness in particular was quite remarkable and possible one of the strongest across the series. Paramina Rift might be a lenghty section but it is a pleasure to explore not only due to its beauty but also its theme seeking power. It also serves as one of the best grinding spots in the game.

And finally the mighty mountains combined with the icy tibetan caverns in the Mountaineering section of Uncharted 2 stood out for me as one of the nicest backgrounds for puzzling and platforming.

What are your most loved winter levels?

New (Old)-in //RPG

SaGa-Frontier-Direct-art

As you might know RPG is the genre I invest most time into and gush over the most on these pages. Seeing as we are already more than a half way into December I think it’s safe to begin the pre 2015 chats and discussions as to what we will be playing next so here’s a few titles I will be looking forward to try the most next year.

1. A brand new title in the SaGa series was announced a few days ago which instantly piqued my interest mainly due to the art direction, obviously, and the fact that I remeber being once fascinated by the SaGa Frontier images while scrolling through the old classics checking on what I have missed out on over the years. The game will be playable on the PS Vita.

2. Persona 5. That one’s a given eventhough the updates and news have been rather sparse ever since it has been announced. I will gladly accept anything to be honest and I’m pretty sure so will the rest of the community. Persona has become insanely popular for many reasons. Although the first two titles suffered in the gameplay department, I have always found it painful to digest in comparison to the plot, the 3rd and the 4th game managned to balance the battle system and the story incredibly well. I see them as the ultimate RPGs for grown-ups.

3. Suikoden I and II will be coming to PSN. I have been unsure whether to include these since they are basically repackaged old classics BUT having not played them/knowing very little about/seeing as they are both generally accepted as the must-plays in the genre I am willing to purchase and see if the series is worth it.

4. Final Fantasy Type-0 HD might be the one I am the most impatient to try. It has been around for years and I have been dreaming about it since the day it came out. Next year it will finally be playable for the western audience and in HD. Persona aside, I might be an even bigger addict in this instance so this list would not be complete without a Final Fantasy title.

RPG wise what do you look forward to in 2015?

Playstation Experience/Top 5

The recent events have unveiled a solid number of titles I would be rather interested in playing the upcoming year. So here’s a few highlights.

1. First up, Uncharted 4: A Theif’s End. Yes I still do need to complete the third game before I even think of this one. Theif’s End looks even prettier and more breathtaking than before and I have always considered it a top trier adventure. Nothing too deep or complex but very enjoyable and very satisfying. I have had a whale of time playing the series eventhough Nathan’s attitude started to rub off on me after the first game and his character has essentially become a George Clooney of video gaming, you know, the kind of happy-go-lucky, carefree, playful, I-live-on-the-edge-without-care ladies man persona I do not have much time for. Still I want to see the finale or at least what I believe is going to be the end of Drake’s escapades.

2. Next, I am glad to see PS Vita library growing, especially in the RPG department. Suikoden II has just been ported to PSN and Vita so I might give it a whirl in the future especially since I have always been intrigued by the series.

3. I used to think I did not have much time or patience for Little Big Planet but the minute I saw the footage for the third game I immediately felt the urge to play so I might seriously consider buying it once it’s out.

4. Now Final Fantasy VII HD for the PS4? I don’t care what they say I will gladly play it again.

5. And finally, the newest edition of Metal Gear Online looks solid and really well-made, like the remaining games in the series. It almost pains to have to say no to it since I’m rather hopeless with competitive titles where frequent shooting is involved.

Wishlisting #christmas

I have always been a wee bit obsessed with all sorts of lists especially wishlisting hence th’day I’ve decided to come up with what I personally would wish to put my hands on. Some of it might seem like an unattainable dream since I usuallly seem to be getting infatuated with titles exclusive to the platform I never own.

Two releases I have been frantically eyeing up recently are Bayonetta 2 and Dark Dream Don’t Die. The first one is an obvious pick since I adore the predecessor and the latter … I genuinely pray for it to appear on Steam at least. If you’re a Deadly Premonition enthusiast you will understand and share my obsession. It’s one of those titles that radically stands out and is so entertaining the hours of play seem to just fly by. I would assume and hope Dark Dreams is no different.

Seeing as the RPG mood never seems to take a backseat with me I have been stalking the PSP library quite frequently. I’m nearly done with Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, which has been a sheer joy to play, and I’ve decided I need to take a closer look at other classics. So far Lunar: Silver Star Harmony, Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth and perhaps Riviera: The Promised Land seem to be the closest to my preferences.

And finally something I have been lusting over this whole year. PS Vita. Also, ideally Persona 4 the Golden together with it.

What’s on your list?

GOTY 2014?

wpid-dsc_0367

It’s almost that time of year already, isn’t it? I think November makes it safe to begin the game of the year chats (& the christmas wishlisting). My annual picks are usually rather questionable because it is always either something that is a relaunch/remaster/remake so technically it should not count or something that was released in Europe within the timeframe but yonks before everywhere else so … should not count either.

I believe last year it was Deadly Premonition and the year before that- Catherine. This year is not any different. The title I have spent most time with and have still tons to do within the extras department is indeed the Final Fantasy X|X-2 HD remaster. I don’t think I have even been this excited for a relaunch of something that I had played a crazy amount of times in the past and know by heart entirely.

 

The notes. #September

This month has delivered a good handful of interesting news and updates so far including my highly anticipated releases. Persona 5 being at the very top of my list has finally got a proper trailer featuring possibly the main protagonist.

God Eater 2 Rage Burst has been announced for the PS4 as well as Vita which is a good thing eventhough it is highly unlikely for it to show its face outside of Japan. It really is a shame since the first game was a gem when it comes to action/adventure RPGs.

Also I have to admit Tales of Xillia 2 is looking rather tempting especially when it comes to character design and Tales of Zestiria is shaping up nicely too.  I haven’t decided if I will be purchasing though since I’m still not quite sold on its predecessor.

And finally the amount of news that reached the surface today took a while for me to process. Yes, Tokyo Game Show. Bottom line is -so far-that I like/want everything. Final Fantasy Type-0 HD will be out to buy the upcoming spring and has been updated with a brand new footage AND will include a playable demo for Final Fantasy XV which has received a rather dashing new trailer. Both are looking all kinds of lovely so I’m even more enthusiastic about the releases.

Phantasy Star Nova is out this year in the east for PS Vita and today’s news give us a bit of an insight into the game. It does look like the customisation still remains a vital part, maybe even better this time around.

Are you interested in any of those?

The notes. #August

That’s no moon. It’s a #supermoon! Tomorrow’s full moon: 14% closer to Earth & 30% brighter http://t.co/GnuRamoFTC pic.twitter.com/ZgywPHMtYA

— NASA (@NASA) August 9, 2014

Looking forward to that. Sadly there’s not been any major gaming this month … yet. As usual my inability to stick to one title at a time is here to blame. My blacklog has gotten bigger than ever and I’m seriously frightened for once so as usual I’ve been ignoring it and grinding on the good ol’ favourites (Final Fantasy X-2) on the side feeling guilty.

The Next New-in #rpgmenu

It seems like I’m awfully late to the party but I never knew the sequel to one of my favourite PSP releases is out and has been for a while. The good: it is out for both PSP & PS3 & possibly PC in the future. The bad: The likelihood of me ever experiencing it is low, unless it magically shows up its face outside of Japan.

Image Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky Second Chapter (1), I still have hope …

Persona 5 (2) is scheduled for winter this year for Japan and the next year for the rest of the world. It had been teased and speculated plenty of time before the actual announcement without any valid or existing proof. We have finally got now a teaser and we can safely say that the game IS in development.

Aside from that the most obvious title I will be shortly ( or eventually in a far distant future depending on Square’s intentions) gushing over and with no end would be Final Fantasy XV (3). That one is scheduled for PS4 as of now and as long as it does not go in the direction Lightning Returns headed in (very little to no traditional RPG style, time limits) I will be happily anticipating it.

And finally, Final Fantasy Type-0 HD (4), the title that made this year E3 exciting announcement wise for a couple of seconds, I would have to say is a reason enough for me to get excited for a PS4 rpg library.

Top 3 and more. |RPGs

#1. Final Fantasy VIII [1999] was my very first RPG experience and till today it still remains my most loved one. It’s probably best known for the love plot which in my opinion is only a tiny element of the bigger picture and not even my favorite. Initially, it impressed me with the story and scared me with the game play. Even though it did take me awhile to learn the battle & team development mechanics it was well worth it. The best thing about the junction system is that it allows you to customize your characters anyway you wish to, it’s very satisfying.

#2. SMT: Persona 3 [2008] while being completely different game play and story wise it is as good as the latter. Set in modern times it offers possibly the most addictive battle play I’ve ever come across and makes the grinding/dungeon exploration ridiculously enjoyable. That plus memorable characters paired with an exhilarating plot make the game feel fresh.

#3. Final Fantasy X [2001] is probably the most accessible out of the bunch, well-paced and perhaps the most captivating. Plot wise it starts off lightly and evolves into something more serious. It’s journey oriented and what I like the most is that everyone you meet on your way has their own story to share and it’s always a good one. It’s an amazing classic I will always want to revisit and the fact that the HD re-launch is so near makes me very excited to play it again.

Aside from that, there is plenty of other titles deserving a mention. SMT: Persona 4 has got an enhanced game play but I still prefer the third installment a bit more. Ni no Kuni impressed me with the design and gorgeous visuals but not necessarily with the battle system sadly, still it’s an enjoyable game. Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky is one of my recent favorites. The story & the characters aren’t anything outstanding and the game play relies on a very traditional approach. Despite that though it’s got its charm and had grown on me eventually. Valkyria Chronices is a breath of fresh air when it comes to strategy. Demon’s Souls is an exceptional title, not so much for its insane difficulty level but for the overall atmosphere, lore, story, NPCs and the design.

And finally God Eater Burst and NieR, not entirely fully-fledged RPGs but both are incredible titles still not getting enough recognition for their quality.