Thursday, October 27, 2011

Discordance: Music Games In A Post-Guitar Hero Industry

Earlier this year, Activision made an announcement that the Guitar Hero series would be shelved due to low sales numbers. The last piece of DLC was released in April, and the Guitar Hero world has been dormant since. Though Rock Band is still doing quite well, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the music game genre as we know it is on its way out. While I love the Rock Band series (Devin Townsend DLC in the Rock Band Network is the greatest thing that any music game has ever had song-wise), there have been little to no truly groundbreaking innovations. This is why so far, the greatest music games released this year are the ones that stray from the given formula.


Chime is a strange but fun hybrid of Tetris and Lumines, set to music. Very addicting and fun, but you can't add your own tunes, which is missed potential there.
Available on: XBLA, PSN, PC (Steam)


A top-down shmup in the vein of Geometry Wars with a dash of bullet-hells on LSD, Beat Hazard is not only a really fun and challenging (on the harder difficulties) game, but it is also a developmental miracle. Created by Cold Beam Games, which consists of one person (That's right, ONE PERSON), Beat Hazard is amazing in terms of not only fun factor, but content as well. There's online multiplayer, multiple gametypes, many different types of enemies, each with their own strategy, boss fights, and a fully-featured perks and leveling system. You can choose any mp3/aac/flac music file, and the on-screen action (amount of enemies, speed of projectiles, even the power of your own weapons) is linked to the frequencies of the song. It's simply brilliant, and amazing in the bang-for-your-buck sense.
Available on: XBIG (the original, highly outdated and as such, barebones release), PSN, PC, Mac OSX, Steam

More to come

Final Fantasy Retrospective (Part 2, or "Wow, it's been 2 months since an update")

Alright, been awhile. Anyways, here's the not-that-long-awaited part 2.  

Final Fantasy IV (1991 SNES, 1997/2001 PSX, 2005 GBA, 2007 DS)
Alright, now onto the good stuff.  Final Fantasy IV is a stellar game, plain and simple.  This game has strong characterization.  You play as the captain of the Red Wings of Baron.  The Red Wings, are an elite airship army for the nation of Baron.  After a few incidents in the plot, Cecil is questioning his loyalties to his king.  Eventually, he goes through a transformation to purge himself of the blood on his hands and becomes a Paladin.  

This serves two purposes: The plot reason is to help Cecil come to terms with his life and indicates a full realization of what he must do and who he is, as a person.  Gameplay wise, it changes Cecil from this HP siphoning damage dealer to a naturally protective support character.  When an ally has low HP, Cecil will automatically guard them.  

This all aside, the game is a pretty damn good.  Depending on the version, it can vary from hard, or fairly easy.  The SNES version is actually considerably harder than the DS remake.  The SNES version required a considerable amount of grinding vs the DS one.  

Good soundtrack, good characterization, good story.  Final Fantasy IV gets a recommendation from me if you're looking for a good JRPG.

Seriously, that’s all you get for FFIV.  Intentional yo.

Final Fantasy V (SNES: N/A {in N.A.}, Playstation: 1999, GBA: 2006, PSN: TBD)
Alright, now we’re a little obscure.  Final Fantasy V is one of the unheard of games.  Until a few years ago, I had never played it myself. 
If there is one thing you take away from this little recap it’s this: I love their Job System.  It’s absurdly fun to mess with.  Seriously.  Want to play a Ninja in heavy armor?  Well level as a Knight for awhile, learn “Heavy Armor” then just equip the ability when you turn Ninja.  Ta-daaaaa.  It is the precursor to the job system in Final Fantasy Tactics, which is a good thing (That had a stupidly fun job system as well).
Anyways, this game has a decent-to-good story, and the gameplay/combat is more fun than normal because of the way you can build your characters. 
Also introduced in this game is Gilgimesh, who later becomes a recurring character in later Final Fantasy titles.  Also, his theme music, Clash on Big Bridge, pretty awesome. 

or for a more epic version:

The story involves stopping Exdeath, the big bad, from sending the entire world to the Void, nothingness, fates worse than death, unlife, et al.  It’s up to you, Bartz, your faithful steed Boco (a chocobo, naturally), a crass pirate, a princess, and a badass grandpa (Thanks TVTropes). 

If you’re going to pick up and play this game, grab the GBA version.  It’s received higher scores than the PSX counterpart.  The PSN version hasn’t been released Stateside as of yet.