From a Gamer’s Basement

Today and tomorrow I got double duty so to speak. As this column goes up, tomorrow my review of X-Men Legends will as well. I know last week I said it would be sooner than this, but the cool thing is I had it done long ago, but it’s only appearing now because of all the excellent new reviewers we got who have been pounding out the reviews, as well as Lucard, Yeager, and Williams banging out their own material as usual. So make sure everyone reads the reviews we have coming to you guys, because you’ll never find our brand of honesty anywhere else on the net. And stay on the lookout for another review from me in the next week or so that should introduce a new title to all of you. One more thing before I get to this week’s actual content: I pre-ordered the Nintendo DS, and I am pretty damn excited about it. So far I think the only launch title I’ll be picking up will be Super Mario 64 DS, but when I look ahead to the games planned for the next few months after the launch I wonder where the hell I’m going to get the money I’m going to need. Anyways, last week I wrote about the handheld market in general. I got e-mail (I know, I was pretty damn shocked too) so I thought I would share the thoughts of Myles McNutt with everyone.

A.J.,

To your list of GBA Games for next year, add Donkey Kong Country 3 from Rare (Unless they choose to develop the port as a DS game), Yoshi’s Gravitational game, and Wario Ware: Tilt Sensor edition. The latter two use tilt technology, and could bring some neat functionality to the GBA that the DS won’t even be able to match. The latter released in Japan last week.

I think the GBA will have enough support to keep it alive; hell, the release of Emerald alone will be a huge coup for the little system. And, I’d expect there will still be releases for the platform of kid’s licenses. But, at this point, major development studios making new franchise titles for the system is likely behind us.

As someone who pretty well only own First Party GBA software, I’m making the switch next spring. I’ll pick up Minish Cap in January as one big last hoorah for my SP, which I’m keeping for connectivity purposes. How else can I design patterns in Animal Crossing for free?

The SP will live on, but not in the same capacity it does now.

Myles McNutt

Myles is absolutely right, and the SP still has a little life left in it. However, the days of SP support are pretty much numbered, and we all know. Enjoy the quality titles we have left, because the days where we see 2-D handheld games as we know and love them are on the way out as the handheld market is about to experience a huge shockwave in the form of the DS and the upcoming PSP. Regardless, today’s topic is going to focus on music. Of course since this is a video game column, we’ll be talking music in video games. Outside of game play, and possibly visuals, is there really a more important aspect of a game than this? How many times have you found yourself playing a half-decent game to only be completely turned off by it in the form of an abysmal soundtrack? I could rattle off dozens of titles that have really disappointed me simply due to a musical selection that could have been much, much better. Sometimes; however, a few companies get it right. Rockstar serves as a perfect example. Personally, I have never found any Rockstar game to be out of this world in terms of game play (the MOST important category), but I will give them credit where it’s due: They know what their doing when it comes to picking what music they put in their games. The Grand Theft Auto series is, without a doubt, an excellent example of this. Who doesn’t remember the first time you saw a GTA: Vice City commercial and A Flock Of Seagulls started playing? That commercial is still my all time favorite for any video game, simply because that music fit so perfectly with the visuals and the feel they were going for. The game itself, musically, was amazing. Maybe it’s just because I love 80s music. But, as I write this, let’s face facts: The game was set in the 80s. The soundtrack selection made perfect sense, and Rockstar didn’t disappoint with a great selection of 80s music from nearly every genre possible.

I was reminded of all of this just the other day, which prompted me to write this column on this subject. I was flipping through the channels and I happened to fall upon X-Play on TechTV. So I figured what the hell there was nothing else on, and besides I think Morgan Webb is out of this world beautiful (check out this month’s FHM too see for yourself). So they go to commercial and what comes on? “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns and Roses starts playing and I’m treated to a GTA: San Andreas commercial, the first I had ever seen on it. Now bear in mind that I don’t even like GTA games, and this commercial almost had me salivating for it. The power of music, my fellow gamers, is indeed a force to be reckoned with…and companies like Rockstar know it. And from all the reports I’ve read thus far the 90s soundtrack they are planning to put in this next GTA installment is going to pretty amazing as well.

However, their not the first people who ever said “Duh, good music will sell our games.” I’m reminded of some of the NES Megaman titles. Some of that music, while very simplistic, still gets me up for taking that game down. Music doesn’t have to be elaborate; it just has to fit the mood and theme of the games. This is perhaps the final piece to why classics are classics. Think about. It doesn’t matter what genre we’re talking about. RPGs, shooters, fighters, platformers, etc…The great ones always have an amazing soundtrack to go with them. So next time you’re playing one of you all favorites stop a minute and turn the volume up and let it sink in. The music in these games is definitely worth a few minutes of your time to admire. Alright then, that’s it for this addition of From a Gamer’s Basement. Enjoy my X-Men Legends review, and stay on the lookout for my next one: the new Kirby GBA game. Next weeks topic is going to be a bit off topic, but I promise I’ll relate it back to gaming somehow. Oh, and if any of you want to send some mail, how about some mail about YOUR favorite music in games. A mailbag about that would be pretty damn cool.