Irritating Archery #1 – Audiilogical Necrophilia‏

Before I start waxing nostalgic I figure I should introduce the column and it’s not so humble or sane writer.  I am Chris Hansbrough.  I’ve been a comic editor for about 2 years making just enough to not be homeless outside of the time I was living in my car.  It’s kind of homey so I can’t complain.  I’ve also done some story and creative work on some independent games.  No money in it but it’s a lot of fun getting to actually work in the fields that are your biggest hobbies.  Outside of that I used to work in the gaming and comic media fields for Silver Bullet and before that multiple RPG gaming sites back in the 90’s.  It’s damn nice to get back to that.

Enough about me, What’s the column about?  Well, it’s about whatever the hell I feel it should be about.  Whether it’s waxing nostalgic about how gaming was so much better as a kid or how amazing a game I’m paying now is.  Ranting about comics and games is what I do best.  Each entry is going to be broken up into 3 different segments.  The main feature which is going to be a long or a short rant on what I feel was the most important thing for me this week or the most creative thing to pop into my head.  Next is the Geek Out of the Week, The best Comic and the best Game I’ve played between column Wednesdays  After that comes the final part.  Next Week’s Picks.  Take a guess what that is?  It’s the 5 things I am anticipating most from the next week.  I’ll say the recommendations and then say why… What?  explanations?  This is the Internet… I’m supposed to be ranting about how whatever is raping my childhood or whatnot.  It’s all right.  That’s what the main feature is for.  I even bought my childhood a Rape Whistle so when a comic comes out that isn’t exactly the same as the ones in the 80’s I can blow and be safe.

Let me ask you a question.  When it comes to game music what is the first thing that pops into your head?  Probably one of the original classic themes that have lasted through time and still retain the same feel today they had when they were originally created.  Why is it that as our technology to produce music has expanded it seems the creative lever of the music has suffered.  Yes, some composers still understand this and a game will come out with a good piece or two in their musical score but does anyone remember a time when you didn’t want to hit the mute button or turn the music slider all the way down after a couple hours of the same music?  Because I sure as hell can.  Growing up a gamer was a great thing.  Games were memorable and repayable for many reasons, and I rarely wanted to smack the mute button.  It was a golden time if you enjoyed RPG’s.  The graphical limitations made it so that every aspect of the game had to play into the storytelling of the games.

Music told a story.  A character popped on screen and you knew something about them even before they spoke.  The musical scores helped to tell a story just as well as the dialog.  Nobuo Uematsu was a genius with a keyboard and midi sound.  The music was simple but it was timeless.  Tell me you can’t immediately recognize the Mario or Zelda themes?  Tell me you can’t remember the music from the games of your youth.  It doesn’t matter what instruments they are played with so many of the old themes are immediately recognizable.  Today you have so few.  Yes, you can immediately recognize Halo (Thank you Bungie for realizing that a good soundtrack is important to a great game)  but so many others are so very lacking  You don’t get personality anymore.  You just have music so that there is some noise while you are running from place to place.  Some games still do get that, some try and fail miserably, but when was the last time you played a game where individual characters had their own themes when they came onto the scene or were controlling the plot.

Where now days is the musical gravitas of an Actraiser or a Chrono Trigger?  An NES Castlevania game or a Ghouls and Ghosts?  Nothing manages to keep my interest or be interesting long enough for me to listen to the same song on repeat for the 20 minutes it takes for me to get from one place in the excessive world path to the next one.  Why is there the same song when I’m running through this huge giant city where I have to spend 3 hours before I can leave.  I find it interesting how when we have the ability to actually use a full symphony of instruments that we end up with themes that are actually less imaginative that the themes of yesteryear.  Why is it that being limited made the themes so much more creative and beautiful.  If a hero with a sword comes into the scene I want to know it.  I want to hear every character have that fanfare they deserve that tells something about their character.  Not to mention the fantastic ability to make small tweaks in tone or speed and suddenly the same piece of music has a different meaning.

I can remember hours spent kicking ass to this.

[Audio http://www.nerdstock.net/Blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/9391_bloodpool.mp3]

Or kept a character in my party just so I could listen to this.

[Audio http://www.nerdstock.net/Blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/chrono-trigger-frogs-theme1.mp3]

It’s an amazing thing what a game can do with music, and why that is squandered lately is beyond me.  I’m amazed that 8 bit themes which were essentially just guitar riffs or 16 bit themes which were midi files of orchestral scores are what stick in the mind longer than the music now which actually can use that orchestra and guitar rock band.  I absolutely love the Persona games but my ears bleed every time I have to hear some J-Pop or J-pop imitating American band crackle through my speakers.  Why is it that with the technological ability to actually have those great musical medleys do they suffer from stagnation and bland creative choices in the music department.

Some companies can still do it.  I can still really enjoy the Suikoden games.  They still have a grasp on how to make a great musical score.  I thought Dead Space had what may be one of the most brilliant uses of music and atmosphere in a while… It lead to the game being even creepier when the music would dim and a crazy limbed thing would come flying at you soundlessly in zero gravity while you piss your pants from the built up tension.  Some developers still have that but so many have gotten away from what made a game soundtrack memorable and have stagnated into boring repetitiveness.  Why is it that when you go see a show like Video Games Live is all the music the music of the past with the exception of the few great modern games.  It’s an interesting thing.

Regardless of my bitching I’m still excited by what can be done and when a game comes out that really can do it well, that’s when I’ll put a smile on my face and play through from start to finish.  But until then I’ll just sit here grousing and lamenting the loss of what made so many games go from good, to amazing.

Seriously… Actraiser is one of my favorite games ever made.  Just for the rockin’ soundtrack.  Pick it up from the wii shop if you can.  You won’t regret it.

Geek Out of the Week  – Comics

X-factor #39 – This is a series I have a love/hate relationship with.  Some months it’s absolutely amazing, Some months it’s good, And sometimes it’s just plain bad.  But the good outweighs the bad and this issue is no exception.  Gut wrenching and shocking is what it is.  Not since issue 3’s “I’m Layla Miller, I know stuff”  has there been a creepier scene in comics and it shows that this book is not only back on track but back in a big way.  So Bravo Peter David.  Bravo.  The best written comic of the week and one of the best in a while.  Pick it up.

A solid 5 out of 5 issue with a dry slap for creeping me out and then making me want to cry….

Geek Out of the Week – Gaming.  Now I could give this to Dead Space as I replayed it this week.  It’s an amazing and brilliant game.  Creepy atmosphere, great gameplay.  The best survival horror I’ve played in years.  But that’s not the most fun I have had with a game in the past week.  What is though?

Apollo Justice Ace Attorney – Nintendo DS

I was a huge fan of the Phoenix Wright series.  But it’s moved on.  8 years in fact.  And it’s just as brilliantly fun as it always was.  New characters and old team up to make it another fun comedic romp through word and visual puzzles that this time take full advantage of the DS’ capabilities. It’s fun, it’s witty, it’s charming, and somehow keeps it’s continuity straight and allows the entertainment of actually connecting with the characters involved.  after finishing It really left me eager for the next installment of the series Miles Edgeworth Perfect Prosecutor.

4 out of 5 with no dry slaps.  although I thought of giving it one for making me giggle in public.

Next Week’s Picks.

Resident Evil 5 : The Demo – yeah it’s a demo but it’s nice to get a good look at what is one of my more anticipated games of the next few months.   Give it a shot.  See what you think.  It’s co-op only which is fine by me as that’s how I love my games.  I don’t know if it can stand up to Left 4 Dead but it’s still pretty damn nice.

Blue Beetle #35 – It’s fun, it’s funny, and Matt Sturges has kept the book great.  I’m kind of pissed off it’s been canceled but give it a shot.  Go buy some trades.  Buy the issue.  Buy the book.  You won’t regret it.

Unknown Soldier #4 – This has surprised me.  It’s creepy, it’s violent but it’s also really intelligent and actually does a good job getting you thinking.  Very good book that for me came out of nowhere with great art and great writing.

Hero Squared Love & Death #1 – If you haven’t tried Hero Squared you are missing out on one of the best indie series’ over the last few years.  I like the funny, and this book has brought it with every miniseries and one shot.  It’s fantastically smart and funny and should be on everyone’s pull list.  If you like to laugh at intelligent humor… give the book a shot.  You won’t regret it.

Nova #21 – Another issue of the most solid book of the past 2 years.  The current storyline has been fantastic and the last issue ended with a planet sized Cliffhanger.  My ego really has me wanting to do more to promote this book but if I did the great lord Mogo would be angered by me promoting his mustachioed rival at Marvel.  If you aren’t buying this book I cry for you.

Well that’s it.  The first installment of the Irritating Archery, complete with a witty title.  Give me a few weeks to get back into writing shape and the column will come into a more perfected format with logo’s wit and all sorts of other nonsensical crap.  Join me next Wednesday when I’ll be waxing nostalgic about gaming past again this time about how being a longer game doesn’t necessarily make it better. Leave a comment and let me know what you think so I can improve and over time make the whole thing, y’know, not suck.

GS Reporter: Chris Hansbrough

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2 comments

  1. UrbanVox /

    castlevania… wow…
    from the bottom of the chest! 🙂

  2. Nay Mate. that be the awesomeness of ACTRAISER! A game which if you haven’t played was one of the best games on the SNES even though it came out at the beginning of the systems life. The best music to a game…possibly ever. all the action stager were this bad-ass operatic rock and all the sim stages had this cute more pianoey orchestral theme. great game and really wsh they hadn’t royally screwed the sequel becuase they wanted to get it out faster.

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