The Sound of Muzak: New Ideas In Music Gaming
As has been previously discussed, I love music games but have the rhythm of a deaf duck with severe head trauma. Despite this, I still have the occasional need to play music- oriented games and, even more occasionally, the idea to make a new type of music game. It all started with a cowbell game featuring the awesomeness of Blue Oyster Cult, KMFDM, and Hot Hot Heat. Think about it, a swank new cowbell game with a Konami- made cowbell controller. Cowbellmania would have had stratospheric sales. Fuck, who needs to dance when they can cowbell? After my cowbell phase came my New Wave Keyboardmania concept. Sure, Keyboardmania never made it to our shores, but a new game with New Wave songs to play along to would be a best seller. Think about how many people bought Grand Theft Auto: Vice City for the soundtrack. What kind of music was on that soundtrack? What instrument was used to make most of it? Yes, New Wave and synthesizers are awesome, drifting into rad territory. Don’t front and act all nu- metal on me, you fuckin’ know that Gary Numan (especially ‘Are Friends Electric?’), the Cure (‘Hot Hot Hot’ anyone?), the Cars (‘My Best Friend’s Girl’), Psychedelic Furs (‘Pretty In Pink’), ummm, maybe I should stop listing these off before you realize what a synth dork I am. Too late? Damn. Anyway, after my love affair with New Wave Keyboardmania came an even better idea: Hand Clap Clap Revelation! Think of all those excellent old songs with handclaps that could be included. Who doesn’t love Hall and Oates?
Then, slowly, I realized that I cannot, in fact, design games since I do not have any programmers, producers, or budget. My dreams crushed, I wandered the Earth alone, righting wrongs using my Shoalin Kung- Fu and ancient Chinese wisdom. No, wait, that was Kung- Fu. What I did was harass poor, innocent Internet columnists until they got me a job on the very site. Now, using my Internet columnist powers, I present you with 3 very excellent ideas for music games that someone should make, soon. Or not, it’s really up to them I guess. Want some cookies? I’m starving. Where were we again? Oh, yeah. Here they are, my most excellent rhythm games of the future. That wasn’t very impressive. Let me try again.
Chuck’s 3 Most Excellent Rhythm Games From the Future… Or Not.
There, that’s much better. The first game is one I think anyone could play and enjoy, if they, like me, enjoy the soothing sounds of the most rad instrument ever. Hell, this makes me want to go play mine right now! Hold on…(*theremin sounds*) Yep, theremins still kick much ass.
Thereminmania: An Adventure in Hands Free Fun
The theremin. If you are familiar with this beautiful instrument, you know that few instruments can compete with it for sheer otherworldly sheen. If you aren’t in the theremin know, click on the link at the start of this entry. No joke, my favorite instrument is the theremin. There is something magical about it’s sound, from Led Zeppelin on ‘Whole Lotta Love’ and the Beach Boys’ ‘Good Vibrations’ to Man or Astroman?, the theremin can be used to add texture, depth, and uneasiness to a song. Why do you think that horror movies use it on their soundtracks? A controller would be kickass, but even with a Dual Shock, I think some cool play would be possible. Here’s a sample playlist:
‘Whole Lotta Love’ by Led Zeppelin
‘Good Vibrations’ by the Beach Boys
‘Spacebeach’ by Arling and Cameron (A and C)
‘Mental’ by the eels
‘Cup of Coffee’ by Garbage
I have yet to acquire any Clara Rockmore or Lothar and the Hand People records to ascertain which songs of theirs belong, but they would definitely make the list, as would Fishbone and Man or Astroman?.
Chances of ever existing: 2.5%
Leatherface’s Chainsaw Dancing Jamboree: A Texas Chainsaw Dance Party
I watched the remake of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It sucked. Ask anyone who saw the original and this remake and expect the same response: Where were the dinner scene and chainsaw dance? It was one thing to have Leatherface embarrassed by a screaming Jennifer Biels and upstaged by scenery chewing R. Lee Ermey, but to not have a dinner scene OR a Leatherface dance sequence is criminal. Why not remake Rocky Horror Picture Show with no songs and an appearance be Eminem? While nothing can make up for the dinner scene being expunged, especially since there were no concrete cannibalism references, a dumb name change from Sawyer to Hewitt, and no replacement for the Chop- Top character, at the very least they can make me a game I must have: Leatherface’s Chainsaw Dancing Jamboree! Little do people realize that all Leatherface Sawyer (fuck Hewitt, the lame new name) has only been trying to get people to dance with him all this time. Why do you think he dresses like a dead guy? So someone will, in Michael Jackson fashion, start dancing to stop his rampage and make him dance, too. The chainsaw? That is only his sad attempt at providing himself with a dance partner. He just wants someone to dance with that’s warm, loud, and umm, vibrates.
So, how would a Texas Chainsaw Massacre dance game control? Well, obviously, a dance mat would be horribly inaccurate and a real chainsaw might be dangerous (take it from me, I nailed my leg dancing with a commercial- grade weed wacker. I never claimed to be smart.), so a Bemani- style plastic stand- in would work excellently. Loaded with a vibration mode, the specially weighted Chainsaw Dance Controller would be the perfect accessory for reenacting Leatherface’s classic dance scene AND it could be used for future programs. Lumberjack Fever, anyone?
Buckethead in ‘Super Buckethead Guitar Adventure Number 1’
Buckethead. Either you know and love him or you have no idea who I mean. Buckethead is the current guitarist for Guns and Roses as well as a VERY distinguished solo artist, churning out records faster than I can listen to them. He also, coincidentally, wears a bucket on his head. The bucket in question usually says Funeral and is red and white striped like those of a certain fried chicken chain. And he wears a mask. Maybe he’s Alex Lucard under that mask? Who knows? Seriously, though, he’s big in Japan, rocks, and made the soundtrack to ‘Flesh for the Beast’, thus making him awesome. So, umm, yeah, what kind of game could Buckethead possibly star in? Well…
Super Buckethead Guitar Adventure Number 1 would be a traditional side scrolling beat- em up, in classic 2- D style, much like the Konami and Capcom arcade games of the early Nineties. Except the boss fights, which would be executed in a slightly different style: one- on- one balls out guitar showdowns! Much like Gitaroo Man and Um Lammer Jammy, Super Buckethead Adventure would be all about busting out insane guitar solos to best freaky monsters in musical combat. With effects pedals assigned to the shoulder buttons, Buckethead could whip out all sorts of insane combos to best the evil creatures in tests of guitar might. Fighting a country picker? Flip on your Distortion pedal, grab on the wang bar, and solo your ass off. Is the Flamenco boss tearing you a new one? Delay and Ring Modulate him into oblivion with a few double stops. Damn, I want this game.
Well, my people, I am off to play more Disgaea. Have fun and check out the Theremin while you are at it. Chuck Collins is a good place to start.