The First Good Video Game Soundtrack

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When you think about it, music has increasingly become more and more important for a successful video game. Games which employ a good soundtrack can often be more impactful and bring their best moments to life. When I think of good soundtrack, I often think of games like Okami and Deus Ex. I think about how they wouldn’t be the same without their excellent musical score, and how many of those atmospheric moments would cease to amaze.

It made me wonder when music became such a meaningful fundamental to gaming. How long ago did it begin? When did it become important? I started researching these questions, and then began a search for the first good video game soundtrack. For it to be good it had to benefit the game, and not be repetitive like so many of the old arcade greats. I started at the oldest soundtrack I like, and one of the best known.

The original Super Mario Brothers is a prime example of a game which knows how to use soundtrack. It was so fascinating because it never got old, and all the little themes in it really benefited the world and gave the character more personality. When I think of the first good video game soundtrack, my mind immediately goes to Mario. Actually, I think of the NES as a whole. While the NES came out around ten years after music was introduced to games, I think it was the console which made it a priority. Sure, many Atari games had small tunes but in most cases they weren’t used to improve the gameplay or story. They were merely used to distinguish themselves from other games. The game itself never felt improved by the tunes which accompanied it. Despite my love for the NES and it's games which held many amazing songs, I knew for sure something had to exist before with a great soundtrack. But in order for me to find the first good soundtrack, I knew I would have to go far back. All the way back to where it all started.

For around sixteen years games didn’t have a single tune. Games were played with silence, until one game revolutionized gaming forever. However, finding the first video game to have music has been very difficult. The first electronic game to have music was Simon Says, but it isn’t exactly a video game. The oldest example of a game with soundtrack I could find was Gun Fight, also known as Western Gun.

It seemed promising. I’m not into western style music myself, but I think it can be used rather well, like in the game Red Dead Redemption. But when I saw gameplay from it, I realized Gun Fight’s tune just does not stand up as an appropriate soundtrack. It helped push music in gaming further than ever before, and while impressive for the time, it’s tune doesn’t necessarily stand up as a good song by itself.

From there, I shifted through the 70s and into the 80s as my head filled with nostalgia and hope. Repetitiveness was everywhere, and as the tunes mixed in my head I had trouble remembering which tune went with which game.

After listening to countless arcade soundtracks I realized something. So many of the arcade greats are instantly recognized by their memorable tunes, but memorable doesn’t exactly mean good. Pacman’s music may have sounded catchy at first, but when played after a few deaths, it was enough to enrage me. It brings back all my nightmarish deaths from the hideous, pink Pacman ghost. I’m afraid games like Pole Position also have annoying songs. I must have listened to over twenty different tunes, and my head was buzzing by the time it was over. Not a single one filled my head in a good way. Even the original Donkey Kong couldn’t calm my aggravation. I thought it fit well, but once again, it was just an endless tune which repeated over and over again.

Eventually, my search led me to the two final games I would have to listen to. Dig Dug was released in 1983. It featured music in the gameplay itself, and it played each time you move the character. The theme seemed dynamic and I felt as if my search had reached a conclusion. Everything seemed very promising. But as I played I grew more and more annoyed. I played Dig Dug for only one hour and my head still suffers. The theme will never stop playing and in this search I had mentally injured myself. It was as if I had stepped on a jellyfish.

And then I tried The Tower of Druaga. Finally, I had found peace. It had more variety than Dig Dug and the various songs which played reminded me of The Legend of Zelda. It wasn’t repetitive, it played in the gameplay, and you can listen to it for one hour without a single headache. However, even this gem was missing something. The music just didn’t have the spark I think it required. At this point, I finally gave up. I made the decision to stop searching, and just accept that there may not be a single game which had a truly good soundtrack from the pre-NES era.

I did find a lot in my search despite my inconclusive findings. I realize now that while many old arcade tunes bring back memories and provide nostalgia, they are actually enough to drive someone crazy. When you’re playing these games, the songs are more like background noise. But if you really pay attention, you will be faced with weeks of listening to those silly little tunes in your head. Despite this, arcade machines still make me excited every time I hear those familiar noises. They may not be great songs, but they still have this odd charm to them.

So at the end of my search, I can say that The Tower of Druaga really isn’t bad. The theme is quite enjoyable. It’s not what I would call good, but it is pretty close. And Space Invaders also deserves quite a bit of credit. I was never aggravated by it’s theme, and thought it was really cool how the music speeds up when enemies get closer.

I feel as if there is still more to find. Music is subjective, and I wanted to know what you think is the earliest example of a good soundtrack?

Just Dropping By

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Hey hey hey! This is my first time really doing something on the new gamespot. I don't really care for the new site layout, but like I said, I will continue to blog every few months.

So what is new with me? Well I'm currently doing National Novel Writing Month (At 22,000 words), so that's interesting. I've been busy off the internet as well, and haven't had time to play any games. I did play GTAV which was extraordinary.

I do miss a few friends here though, I'm hoping to see some familiar faces in the comments. I just wish things could have been different. The new location for my union is better, but I still miss the old community here.

Oh, I wrote a blog for novel month! Figured I'd paste it here for those who want to read it!

[spoiler]Three years ago I entered National Novel Writing Month, only hoping to finish. What I wrote was disastrous and I was definitely disappointed. I made it to 50,000 words but I was not happy with what I wrote, so I vowed to do it again someday.

So here we are three years later. I decided to do it about a week before it began, I had no ideas, no plans. With three hours to go I finished my idea and awaited the time to write. Immediately I found myself struggling to keep up, and constant interruptions burdened my soul.

But here we are on the thirteenth day, and I'm still going. I've finally broken away at 22,000 words. It's harder than I remember, probably because I'm putting a lot more work into it. But the truth is, three years ago, I didn't finish. I only wanted to reach the end, and that's not how a novel should be. This year, I'm going to finish. I'm going to enjoy the journey and worry about the end when I get there.

I never thought I'd make it this far, but now I'm more determined than ever. If you haven't tried Nanowrimo, it's definitely worth it. Even if you don't finish your novel, it's a lot of fun and can spark creativity and love for writing. I had lost my passion for my dream, but thanks to this month, I'm now working on three different novels.

And that's part of the magic in this event. It pushes you to keep on going, and it encourages you to write. I'm closing in on halfway, and hopefully, I can make it to the end. But this year, I already feel as if I have won; because of how it brought back my passion. If I don't make it to the end, I certainly haven't lost anything. But I've gained a new insight on writing, and how I can put my ideals into novels and share my stories.

Three years ago I failed because I didn't care, but now I do care and will work hard to put my ideas out into the world for others to discover. Even if I don't reach the end, I've already won because I tried my best and put my heart into my story. That's the true meaning to writing, to take the creations from your heart and turn them into words. To care for what you have created, and to push hard to make it the best you can.

-A very tired Bugbag.[/spoiler]

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So how has everyone been? :P

A sort of goodbye. (Union Relocation)

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Well, it's been nearly seven years since I joined this site, but the one thing I really did anymore on gamespot is now being removed. While users will have the ability to convert unions over to a public forum, I decided to move The Gamer's Planet completely to a new location. With the union moving, and the other three I love coming along as well, I have far less reason to visit this site.

Now I will still be around weekly to read my PMs but that's about it. If you want to contact me, or even join, my new union welcomes everyone who has a passion for gamespot unions and want to see them live on. It may be called The Gamer's Planet, but it's not just about games. It's about everything.

The new place is already doing well. It's in beta, but we have twenty-one active members now with the possibility of many more coming. And not only that, but in three days we already have 1600+ posts. The place is very active, and the members are friendly. Signing up is easy, all you need is a email address, password and birthday.

I hope to see some familiar faces there, and I'll have a more lengthy goodbye in about a week reflecting on some stuff, but for now I have some things to do.

Thanks for reading.

-bugbag

My Ideas for Portal 3

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Before I continue, this blog contains massive spoilers for Portal 1 and Portal 2. Unless if you have finished the games I recommend not reading pass this point.


Valve has been a leader in the gaming industry for a long time now, changing the gaming universe and FPS games forever with Half Life, creating the successfully Left 4 Dead series, revolutionizing multiplayer with Team Fortress and creating my personal favorite puzzle game ever, Portal.

Although I don't suspect a Portal 3, due to the fact Valve has never made a third game in a series before, I got caught up in thinking and came up with some ideas for what I would like to see in Portal 3.

As we all know the Portal universe has taken place in a abandoned testing facility occupied by the unfriendly GLaDOS. The first Portal didn't really have much variety in how the world looked, it was simple white walls and black walls with some red lasers thrown in. This environment returned in Portal 2, changed massively. In Portal 2 you explore the familiar testing facility further, but you also experience the older testing chambers located deep within a underground cave. The series has had just enough variety in it's environments to prevent feeling stale, but the underground testing facility made me realized this series has even more potential if it changes the testing facility all together.

The Orange Box Image
This is the first Portal, a innovative and revolutionary puzzle game which fetched many awards and gained positive reception.

The first idea I came up with involved the end of Portal 2. We see a large batch of flowers blowing in a relaxing breeze. This is the exact spot I think Portal 3 should pick up from. As you walk through the flowers and into a large forest, you hear a slight wimpier. Things become silent as you come across a door, sitting in the middle of the forest. It opens automatically and you hear the familiar voice of GLaDOS congratulating you on your discovery. It seems she still has plans.

Portal 2 Image
Portal 2 offered much more variety, and improved upon the sequel in a number of ways.

You go through the door and are faced with a puzzle set up in a small room with foliage and trees. This is the basis I think Portal 3 should follow, new and completely different environments. Obviously this would stretch the imagination of the player, and push the creators of Portal to deliver their standard extraordinary level-design.

One level could take place underwater, another inside of a frozen cave. One puzzle is like being in space. Truthfully the entire testing phrase is taking place in the facility, but the more advanced levels are delivering a more open and complicated puzzle experience.

I think more variety could reshape Portal. It's already the best puzzle game, but I think removing the standard portal services and being able to portal through trees, deep into caves and up on top of mountains could make it a contender for game of the decade. Valve are some, if not the best level-designers in gaming and I'm sure they could pull this off.

Another idea I had was portal guns connected to stands. This idea means the Portal guns shoot once every three seconds, and you can change their position. With this new mechanic you can shoot portals inside of other portals. This can become super complex, but it will make the game much more difficult.

So what do you think? If we ever see a new Portal game do you want levels to continue to take place in the white rooms of the Aperture Science Research Enhancement Center or have more of a dynamic look? And what ideas do you hope are included in Portal 3?

Dishonored Review

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It has been since February since I wrote my last review, so about a month ago I decided to start writing reviews again. The first game I decided to review was Dishonored, but I couldn't post my review due to a gamespot glitch. Thankfully, the glitch is resolved and my review is up.

Also, got AC3 and it is the best in the series from what I've played. Hopefully it won't slow down. I'm already on sequence 6, and I'll post my full thoughts once I finish it.

Thanks for reading.

-bugbag

E3 2012: Top 10 Games

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E3 only comes once a year, and with it, a sneak peak of gaming's future emerges. We saw a new console, five conferences and some of the most craziest ideas seen in gaming. I had a long list of games which I narrowed down to 10, although I included a number 11 since I really wanted to add it to the list. I hope you enjoy it, and make sure to tell me what your highlights of the show were in the comments below.

11: ZombiU

Starting the list off with my most anticipated Wii U game, ZombiU looked as if it was just another unoriginal zombie game. However, it really appears to work perfectly with the new Wii U controller, and I did find the game over system to be fresh where you become a completely different person. although it's not enough for me to get the Wii U on day one, I am definitely interested in this title and can't wait to hear more about it.

10: Tomb Raider

I've always disliked Tomb Raider. Something about the first game on PS1 irritated me, and I never felt as if Laura Croft was a interesting character. Thankfully though, this new title looks like exactly what the series needed: A fresh start. The new survival aspects are very welcoming and although it's seems to be inspired by Uncharted, that's not a bad thing.

9: Crysis 3

I was actually surprised to see this title. First off, the graphics are breathtaking... The gameplay seems to stick the roots of the series, but knowing I could play this game as a stealth game really excites me. The gameplay demo blew me away, and truly showcases the type of situations that has built such a strong fanbase.

8: Beyond: Two Souls

One of my biggest questions at this year's E3 was, "Where are all the new games?" I kept this feeling throughout all the conferences, but once in a while something came along to remind me people still care about originality. Beyond: Two Souls was very unique, unlike any game I've ever seen. And to make me even more excited for this game, it's from one of the most original game developers out there.

7: Dead Space 3

When I saw cooperative gameplay in the demo, I was disappointed beyond words. After hearing you can play this game without a partner I got excited for it again though. Sure, it looks a lot different than the first two games but I'm liking the new environment. I'm worried this game is not heading into the right direction. But so far the adventure has set a new bar for horror games, and I'm excited to see if they can pull it off a third time.

6: Splinter Cell: Blacklist

I didn't like the first or second Splinter Cell, but I loved Chaos Theory. Since then I've been a fan. I'm slightly worried Splinter Cell: Blacklist is going to be more of a action game than a stealth one, but I was very impressed by the trailer and found it to be jaw-dropping.

5: Resident Evil 6

I was a bit disappointed by Leon's part of the story having cooperative gameplay, but other than that, the game really looks fascinating. It looks like it takes the best of the Resident Evil series and combines it into one game, generating three storylines and bringing back two of the most iconic characters. It had one incredible stage demo at Microsoft, featuring some crazy helicopter action and another cliff-hanger ending which made it one of my most anticipated games this year.

4: Dishonored

First off, this is a stealth game so automatically my interest for it shot to new heights. After seeing it at E3 I found the creativity to be mind-blowing. You can turn into a fish, rat, travel as quick as lightning, get a enemy to shoot at you, take over his body, and walk him in front of the bullets... The possibilities appear to be endless. It reminds me of BioShock, and it's being designed by the same person who did Half Life 2. Plus, Bethesda is making it. This game has one of the best development teams ever, and it seems as if they're doing a wonderful job.

3: Assassin's Creed 3

We haven't seen many changes in the series lately, but I really feel like Assassin's Creed 3 has enough things to keep gameplay new. The new character is shaping up to be the best yet, and the new environment is unlike anything I've seen. Now tree's are the viewpoints, and this along is going to change the gameplay drastically. It really looks like the series is taking a large step, and it couldn't have come at a better time.

2: The Last of Us

The presentation was brilliantly astonishing in so many ways. Everything in it looked scripted, but it just shows how games are truly becoming what they have always thrived to be: Movies where you control the characters. The thing that got me the most excited was the A.I which will flank you, ambush you and insult you. I'm hoping the entire game will be as intense as the stage demo, but either way, I will definitely be buying it.

1: Watch Dogs

This game went from being completely unknown, to becoming one of my most anticipated games of all time. It wasn't the graphics, or the incredibly voice-acting, or the remarkable sound design. It was actually the fascinating gameplay. Using your phone you can change traffic lights, effect trains, jam communications and much more. The story hasn't really been explained thoroughly, but if it's anything like the trailer, we can expect one of the best games of this decade. This game helped Ubisoft steal the show, and it proved to be one of the most breathtaking demos I have ever seen.

So there you have it. E3 went by so quick this year, but I really enjoyed it. Sometimes it got overly boring, but overall it's good to see gaming is now opened to everyone. I realized that at this year's E3 more than ever, and I can't wait to see what's in store for us in the coming years.

-bugbag

Saving my sig here...

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Top 10 Games of 2011

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It has been a long time coming but my Game of the Year awards are finally ready! I actually only played ten games this year, and all of them were fantastic. Because I only played ten games from this year, this list may feel limited. Still, I'm happy with my choices and I hope you enjoy my list!

10-F1 2011

F1 2011 Image

Starting the list out with a dedicated simulator, F1 2011 is the true simulation of F1 racing. Despite some minor technical issues it's probably the closest you can get to being in a real Formula One car! The only reason it's in 10th is because I played so many fantastic games, but this is a very addictive, and difficult racer.

9- Dirt 3

DiRT 3 Image

Category Wins: Best Racing Game.

I thought Dirt 3 had the best sense of speed ever seen in a racing game, and the physics makes it the funnest racing game I have ever played. Truly spectacular, and I loved it so much that I spent a entire night trying to break a record. I did succeed in this task, and I loved every minute.

8-Batman: Arkham City

Batman: Arkham City Image


Category Wins: Best Adaptation.

Let me start by saying this: I do not really like Batman. I was mistaken by Arkham City, and saw it as another licensed game. Due to the incredible ratings, I got the game and gave it a try. I can definitely say I was more than pleased with the entire concept. Truly a magnificent journey in every regard, and considerably the greatest licensed game ever made.

7-Dead Space 2

Dead Space 2 Image


Category Wins: Best Sound Design and Best Overlooked Game.

Dead Space 2 is a game that was highly forgotten in many awards, but I still remember the exciting thrills and horrific moments which were remarkably intense. The only thing it doesn't improve on from the first Dead Space is being more scary, but who can argue that Dead Space 2 didn't come close?

6-Assassin's Creed: Revelations

Image 4


Category Wins: Best Ending.

I love the Assassin's Creed series but I feel as if some of the soul of the series was lost in Brotherhood. I felt the historical feeling returned in Revelations, and although some of the new ideas are simply stupid, I feel as if it has the best pacing of the series yet. The game is my second favorite Assassin's Creed game, and is obviously wonderful. The ending of Ezio's journey is emotionally touching, and is one of the most memorable moments of gaming this year for me.


5-Portal 2

Portal 2 Image


Category Wins: Best Puzzle Game, Funniest Game and Best Puzzles.

Creativity is a good word for Portal 2. The first Portal was a well-designed puzzle game, but Portal 2 takes the original concept and enhances the experience even further. By adding new gameplay mechanics it never feels dull or old and the comedy is hilariously entertaining. The difficulty of the puzzles is not overwhelming, and generally it's a game I cannot find a single problem with.

4-Dark Souls

Dark Souls Image


Category Wins: Best Boss Fights and Beat Artistic Graphics.

I haven't beaten Dark Souls yet, but I put 12 hours into it so my opinion is solid. I love the brutal difficulty, on edge action and the detailed world with amazingly polished graphics. It strangely reminds me of the PlayStation 1 era, where most games where ridiculously hard but magnificently rewarding.


3-Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Deus Ex: Human Revolution Image


Category Wins: Best Writing, Best Atmosphere and Most Surprisingly Good Game.

I was not expecting much from Human Revolution honesty, but the ratings interested me. Immediately after starting the game, I loved the superb storytelling it delivered. The atmosphere was the best bit though which felt ultimately, futuristic. A few gameplay problems kept it from perfection, but it still remains as a incredible experience I can't get enough of.


2-Uncharted 3

Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception Image


Category Wins: Best Action/Adventure Game, Best PlayStation 3 Game, Best Voice-Acting, Best Technical Graphics and Best Cooperative Multiplayer.

The Uncharted series is highly regarded as one of the best game series ever put on screen. Although Uncharted 3 wasn't better than it's predecessor, it certainly came close and was a technical masterpiece. Everything from the near perfect gameplay, marvelous graphics and heroic storytelling was involving and cinematic.


1-The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Image


Category Winners: Best RPG, Best PC Game, Game of the Year, Best Music and Most Improved Sequel.

I hate to go with the predictable choice but I have always wanted a game with absolute freedom. Skyrim is the closest a game has ever gotten to that for me. Sure, a few technical issues dampen the experience more than I wished they would, like a frame-rate that gets less than low, and a insane amount of glitches and bugs but it's all worth it. This game is ambitious, addictive and unbelievably absorbing. This is my third favorite game ever made, and most definitely my Game of the Year.

So I hope you enjoyed my list and I thank you for reading it.

-Bugbag

Next Blog: Portal 2 Review

Any logos, company names or photos are not owned by me. All photos were used from gamespot.com, and all logos/names are owned by their respective owners and not by me in any way, shape or form.

Batman: Arkham City Review

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http://www.gamespot.com/batman-arkham-city/user-reviews/785941/

Sorry it took me so long. It'sdefinitely not my best review, but I think it's decent. After this I'll write my Portal 2 review, which is a gameI just finished. The ending was inspiring, and the puzzles were perfect. Truly a fantastic game, and probably my favorite puzzle game ever made. I'll have my full review up soon, and will begin writing it after I finish the co-op campaign.

I would also like to thank everyone for the ratings on my last review of Skyrim. It was recommended by 14 out of 14 users and that's my best yet. Hopefully I can keep improving, but I just want to say thanks to everyone who read it.

And that's really all the time I have, so thanks for reading and please comment on my review!

-bugbag