Here they are, the videos and pictures of Video Games Live, the orchestrated tribute to everything video games.
Concerning the videos, my camera only picked up half of the sound. The orchestra sounded amazing, but it sounds kind of messy online. Also, I often couldn't get my camera out in time to get the whole segment recorded, or even had my camera die on me (thankfully with a backup battery on hand).
If these guys come to your area, I HIGHLY recommend seeing them.
P.S. Please excuse the wall of links. The photos are too large to post in here, and I didn't want to waste the bandwidth on my Photobucket account.
Videos: (excuse any giddy singing along or talking you may hear... =3 )
Castlevania - Totally epic. Ignore my friend's "honk honk honk" near the middle.
The stage, before most of the audience arrived:
This Sora costume looked impressive, though a FFX Riku cosplayer arrived later that also looked good:
In the intro, many songs from old favorites were played:
Sonic the Hedgehog actually sounded pretty nice orchestrated:
During the intermission, one of the events involved a game of Space Invaders, where the player had only a button to fire and a t-shirt that tracked where the player stood on stage, which was the only way to move the ship:
Many Final Fantasy songs were played solo on the piano:
The Legend of Zelda is as epic as ever in an orchestra:
VertexGuy, for those who know him, appeared a few times during the show:
Tommy Tallarico, co-creator and -producer of VGL, often came on-stage to introduce the next segment or do a quick interview:
(side note, Tommy is Aerosmith's lead singer's cousin! How cool is that? =) )
Tommy dons his Triforce guitar for the next piece:
Halo sounded incredibly epic, especially thanks to the choir in the back, who hit every note spot-on:
Tommy and the conductor:
And the show is done:
I went to see Video Games Live last night. That was 100x more amazing than I'd ever imagined. I'll try getting pictures and stuff up later.
Just to convince you guys that I am still alive, here's another sign of life.
Today's my 21st birthday! I'm an old man!
I just had an amazing spring break...
I know for sure now that she's the one I want to spend the rest of my life with.
Well, this place sure has changed.
I go away for half a year, and look what happens!
You guys are silly.
...oh, hey. Is somebody actually still reading this? : D
I feel like I may break down soon.
I'll be leaving the country for over a week tomorrow.
Who knows who I'll be or what will happen once I return.
Somebody or something has taken the gloves off and is trying to pummel me.
The second I try return to my friends at GS with all kinds of reviewing goodness, I get struck ill and spend nearly five days sleeping in bed.
It's all better again, but this is also midterm week for me, so I won't become active again quite yet.
See you guys after whatever next is in line happens to me.
Hey guys, I'm back. You may not have noticed much of an absence on my part, but there were definitely issues.
Some time ago my computer was attacked. A trojan planted itself on my computer. I thought I could just wait for it to die somehow (funny, I know), but eventually my campus blocked my computer's internet access. I'd been borrowing other computers to check my mail and post the occasional message in the forums, but it was definitely tedious not being able to do anything with my computer.
Yesterday I finally found the little sucker and got rid of him, and now I'm back online with my own computer (though it's still being monitored). Sorry for the down-time.
I'll start off by apologizing for my recent disappearance. Certain revelations and responsibilities asked for more of my time (when I wasn't gaming, of course), in addition to my friends picking up Rock Band (I'm officially the lead singer). In the mean time, I had a chance to play two games: Zack and Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure, and MegaMan ZX Advent. I'd been thinking up reviews for both of them, since both are (to my surprise for both of them) great games. I still have the Z&W review in the works, so I decided that I'd post the review for MegaMan first.
Title: MegaMan ZX Advent (with common references to and a sub-review of the first MegaMan ZX)
Platform: Nintendo DS
I'm a sucker for a game with a challenge. It's one of the reasons I love Ikaruga so much. Now, I can happily say that one of the most recent additions to my gaming library, MegaMan ZX: Advent, can be pretty freaking tough.
I can't call myself a veteran of the MegaMan series; my first foray into the franchise was with MegaMan X3. Since then I've played a number of games from each series except for the original and Legends (X 1-3, Xtreme, Battle Network 1 & 2, Zero, and now ZX & ZX:A). That's probably just enough to say that I know the franchise to an extent.
What I do know is that the MegaMan name was running out of steam as the end of the X series was approaching. Less and less people were having fun. That's when Keiji Inafune, the creator of MegaMan, finally fulfilled his past desire to make Zero the main character (which he couldn't when the X series just began because X's figure and persona would be more familiar to players coming from the original series), and started the MegaMan Zero series.
The Zero series was important for one major reason: it was HARD, but didn't pull any cheap moves. It brought the fun back by creating new challenges that tested the player constantly.
MegaMan ZX, the franchise's latest continuation of the story, continues learning from the satisfaction of having a challenging game and applies it to all the right places. Where the Zero series tested players by daring them not to upgrade Zero's stats, the ZX series has instead been applying the challenge to the levels themselves.
Taking place many hundreds of years after the Zero series, the line between humans and reploids has blurred almost beyond recognition. Humans now have robotic body parts, and reploids have artificial life spans. Mega Men are a select few people (either human or reploid) that have acquired a BioMetal, a piece of metal with the spirit of a past "hero" that transforms the person into a powerful character with the abilities of their BioMetal. Most notable are Models X and Z, which are fused together early in the first game to create Model ZX, the game's namesake. In the sequel, Advent, Model A is also introduced.
In Advent, almost all of the levels are divided into four areas: the introductory stretch, the mid-boss stretch, the harder stretch, and then the boss. Some levels toss up the formula a little, but in general, nothing changes too much. The great change from the past MegaMan games (a change that started back with the Zero series) is that levels aren't reached through selecting them on a static screen. The game starts in one central area, and all other levels must be reached by advancing to them on foot in a very Metroid-like way. The Metroid feeling doesn't only come from having to travel by foot, but also from the fact that certain areas can't be reached until a certain boss's or Mega Man's power has been acquired. Conveniently, warp points can be unlocked to reduce the amount of travel needed over the course of the game at the player's own will.
A new gameplay element in Advent is also how the gameplay changes depending on which character you choose to play the game through. In both ZX games, the player has the choice of playing a male or female character, with slight changes to the story depending on who is chosen. In Advent, the tiny story changes still exist, but the main gameplay changes as well; Grey, the male protagonist, has a quicker but weaker main shot, a regular charge shot, and a multi-target homing sub-attack. Ashe, the female, has a stronger but slower main shot with a thin, bouncing charge shot, and a single-shot multi-target sub-attack. Outside of the changes to the protagonists themselves, bosses will use different attacks depending on the character (and, in effect, give the players slightly different abilities once they copy said boss).
While we're talking about the gameplay, Advent has a number of improvements over its prequel beside the regular gameplay. In the first game, only the top screen was used regularly unless certain powers turned the lower screen into monitors (enemy locator, item finder, boss weakpoints & HP, etc.). This meant that every time the player wanted to check where they were on the map, they had to pause the game and go to the map screen. This wouldn't even be that annoying, though, if ZX's map were made more useful, as opposed to its crystal bond-like layout that tells the player little about how to reach the area they're trying to enter. Also, ZX's menus were a little bland. Advent cleans up the map, adds some flavor and intuition into the menu layouts, and lets the player access the map and most of the menu features on-the-go on the lower screen (with touch recognition).
Outside of the usual MegaMan business, there are quite a number of sub-quests to complete for varying kinds of rewards. Some rewards consist of nothing more than a little extra cash for unlocking warp points. Other rewards consist of chips which improve your ability to explore, such as shoes that keep you from slipping on ice. There are also mini-games to unlock, including a new kind of Bejeweled-like game that can be played with another person, or a game called 'MegaMan a', a "remake" of the first ZX in the sty1e of the original MegaMan games. Finally, the most challenging of all the extras in ZX: Advent, is a gallery of unlockable medals that are acquired by beating the bosses of the game in specific ways. Each boss has three possible medals, and the requirements for each are different per boss. One medal for a boss requires you to have one of the boss's own weapons destroy him. Another boss requires you to kill him only using Model A's special "Giga Crusher," which takes a long time to recharge once used. The list goes on, totaling 24 medals, with a unique reward once all are obtained.
There are three difficulty settings: Easy, Normal, and Expert. Normal can already put up a decent challenge here and there, but Expert can send a person up a wall, crying as they tear their hair out and chew their fingers to a pulp.
The irritation comes from the fact that there are no checkpoints in the game. If one runs out of lives, the entire level must be played again. This is standard business for a MegaMan game, and many others, but given how challenging the levels can be, frustration grows quickly. Bosses also flesh out their attack patterns, usually doubling the amount of projectiles on the screen or moving faster. Expert is also evil in that it replaces almost all life expansions or sub-tanks (chargeable emergency life supplies) with regular healing items, leaving the player with nearly the same amount of life by the end of the game as they began with and hardly and backups for recovery. And let's not forget that all enemies do 2x damage.
Another thing that has been recognizably "MegaMan" throughout the franchise history is the background music. The ZX games have great music; Advent's is especially cool. Some of the tracks take a calmer note than usual for the series, and other songs are simple for small situations like mid-bosses, but otherwise there are some damn catchy techno and synth songs. Once in a while I'd enter a level just to stand by the entrance and listen to the music for a good ten minutes before progressing.
In the end, I am very happy with the ZX series, especially Advent. Playing through the games almost gave me a nostalgic reminder of the fun I had playing the earlier X games while making me happy to be able to tackle the new challenges and difficulties that I wouldn't be able to were I still a six-year-old. The games can easily last 20 hours or more, greatly due to the amount of extras present in each game, and will pose a challenge at least a few times depending on your MegaMan skillz. If you have a DS and enjoy action platformers, you will be pleased.
MegaMan ZX: 8.7/10
MegaMan ZX Advent: 9.4/10