Kenley Kristofferson

Composer.

Tag: wednesday

VGM Wednesday – Aurora (Meet Me in the Stars) by Anamanaguchi

“Aurora (Meet Me in the Stars” from Summer Singles 2010, by Anamanaguchi.

I want to do something different with VGM Wednesday this month.

Instead of finding tunes from games, I want to flip that expression around and find game-inspired tunes.¬† That could mean a lot of things and over the next five weeks, it will ūüôā

The first is from the fabulous 8-bit band, Anamanaguchi.  Their music is all original and has the feel of classic gaming, but with modern harmony and parts/riffs that would normally push any 2A03 to the limit.

The piece is called “Aurora (Meet Me in the Stars)” and, having written and re-written this description several times, I still have a hard time putting down my thoughts.¬† I love it – that’s it.¬† Maybe you will too.¬† You can hear all of their music on their Soundcloud… all of it ūüėź One of my other favourites is “My Skateboard Will Go On,” and it makes me want to high five everyone everywhere.¬† SO GOOD.

I love this band and bought their albums, I recommend you do the same.

(and by “buy,” I mean with money and not download them illegally. They’re indie, so support them).

Clear skies, everyone!
Kenley

VGM Wednesday – The Wedding Edition

“The Merry Mary Bell Rings” from Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, by Yoko Shimamura, and released in 1996.

Well, tomorrow is the day!

Tomorrow, I will be married ūüôā

It seems only fitting that today’s VGM Wednesday reflects this exciting 48 hours because that’s what video games do, don’t they? They resonate with us at the common times of the games and our lives.¬† Whether it’s the mastery of our surroundings in Portal, the adventure-seeking in Skyrim, or the celebration of love in Final Fantasy IV (during Cecil and Rosa’s wedding, of course, as this is the wedding edition).¬† We empathize with the game elements that we crave in our lives, at least where narrative is concerned.

I recently beat the DS port of Final Fantasy IV and, while the battles were a bit cheap at times, the wedding between Cecil and Rosa at the end (spoiler) really resonated with me because I’m getting married right away! I wanted to high-five Cecil and wish him the best because we’re both going through the same thing and, as silly as it may sound, I was just so happy for him.

(also, Rosa is a total babe who is crazy in love with him, who wouldn’t want to high-five that scenario?)

It’s a strange feeling, this “getting married” thing.¬† Many people say that nothing changes in their relationship, while others say it was a transformative experience.¬† I can’t help but ask myself “I wonder what it’ll be like for me?”

Brenna and I have been dating for seven years – that’s a long time.¬† Thankfully, it doesn’t feel like it.¬† We live together and know each other pretty well, which I think has helped us plan the wedding.

(read: “…which has helped me help Brenna plan the wedding.”¬† She’s the mastermind and it’s going to be a crazy good time)

Anyway, I guess not knowing is part of the adventure, isn’t it? It’s that you have the adventure together.¬† I’m not nervous for the journey, just excited.¬† She’s the most amazing woman that I know ūüôā

Okay, off to Marrymore to get married.  Valentina and Booster are first, though.  They reconciled their differences with Mario and have decided to be happy.

Until next time ūüôā
Kenley

PS: All images from this post were taken from the awesome Destructoid post, “The Ten Best Video Game Weddings.”

VGM Wednesday – “Battle with the Masked Man” from Mother 3

“Battle with the Masked Man” from¬†Mother 3, by Shogo Sakai and released in 2006.

I had a great chat with my friend Joey, at a social* this past Saturday, about this very sequence in Mother 3 for GameBoy Advance.

(there appears to be too many commas in that sentence, but if I wrote “I had a great chat with my friend Joey about this event at a social, it makes it seem like the final battle of the game took place at the social… which, in fact, it didn’t).

Without giving anything away, the fight with the Masked Man is the climax of the entire game, both because it’s the final battle, but the identity of the primary antagonist is revealed (at last!).

The brilliance of the battle is in the timing.¬† Joey recounted that he barely succeeded, he was down to his last HP before the events of the fight really transpire.¬† His brother also played the game and said the same thing.¬† This was a common thread among those who fought and one realizes that those conditions are part of the programming – you’re supposed to just scrape by.¬† The battle wears you down to absolutely nothing, exhausting all of your PP (magic and ability points) and all of your healing items before finally, there’s nothing left to do but die.

Now, the genius of designer Shigesato Itoi is that he also considers how the player feels during each scene and how they experience the game.¬† Here’s how he describes it (spoiler-free)

During the final battle, ______’s ghost appears, scolding¬†[them] and telling them to stop fighting, though she is harder on Lucas, because he is still alive. Itoi stated that the player feels very sorry for _____, and that even more so than the good, the bad need to be rescued. He further states that “there’s a deep meaning behind it, but they had to keep it simple because the game was written in Hiragana”. He had to beg the developer Brownie Brown to “add in the program the operations in the game perfectly enough to add the super subtle timing between lines.”

The writer and producer stews about every second of dialogue, every single word and how it’s all delivered.¬† Sure, big studios do this all the time with voice actors. motion capture¬†and directors, but this is a game that looks like it should have been released for Super Nintendo, not PS3.

I posted about this battle because I have particular memories about this scene – the stress of almost dying, the emotional depth in the fight itself, the inner struggle that comes with revealing the Masked¬† Man… it really made a mark on me and that’s what I look for in art that I keep around ūüôā

I know that this isn’t the first time that I’ve hit Mother 3 in VGM Wednesday, but it’s just a game that’s so much deeper than it looks, which I just love.¬† Don’t judge this book by its cover, you’ll be glad you didn’t!

Kenley

* In the event that any readers here aren’t from Manitoba, a “social” is an event thrown by friends of the bride and groom (usually, but not always) to help the couple raise funds for the wedding.¬† There are silent auction prizes, lots of dancing and usually the consumption of abhorrent amounts of libations… (we won a fire pit!)

Quote comes from wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mother_3#Final_battle

VGM Wednesday – Ending Theme (Orchestrated) from Final Fantasy VI

“Ending Theme” from Final Fantasy VI, by Nobuo Uematsu and¬†released in 1994.

I know that I’ve posted this before, but this version is different and it celebrates the completion of a project that I’ve been working on for quuuuuuuuite some time. ¬†But first the music…

I’ve heard just about every FF6 live performance/arrangement/orchestration on the web and I was SO happy to finally find this. ¬†I’ve listened to the Ending Theme more times than I can count and I never ever thought that I’d find a live recording of it. ¬†This comes from the “Final Fantasy VI: Littlejack Orchestra” concert at Yokohama Minato Mirai Hall in August 2009, according to the video uploader.

I found this¬†version after¬†months of research¬†on the¬†Japanese web.¬†I had¬†previouslyheard of a¬†concert¬†devoted exclusively to¬†FINAL FANTASY¬†VI:¬†“LittlejackOrchestra”¬†at¬†Yokohama¬†Minato Mirai¬†Hall¬†in August 2009.¬†Being unable to¬†attend,I had to¬†find a single¬†record,¬†and¬†my efforts¬†were rewarded¬†by putting¬†the hand¬†(or click¬†…)¬†on the¬†video¬†repeatedly.¬†Far from perfect¬†despite my¬†edits,¬†I grant you!

I think that he did an okay job editing but, to be honest, the recording isn’t the only thing far from perfect. ¬†The performance is okay, but a lot of sections are out of balance and out of tune (especially in the upper woodwinds). ¬†It’s still very impressive, don’t get me wrong, but if we’re going to do it, let’s¬†really do it. ¬†Symphonic Odysseys¬†and Symphonic Fantasies¬†come to mind… now¬†those¬†are performances!

To be fair, they are an amateur orchestra and they really played their heart out. ¬†Their set was also¬†incredibly long, which may have been to their detriment. ¬†A solid article at “Original Sound Version” was written by someone who attended the show and is really worth the read.

Now, for the project.

Earlier this month, one of my students was talking about how much she loves the Harry Potter¬†series. ¬†She’s read all of the books a jillion times, had movie marathons, owns all of the wands, and more. ¬†I must say, I was a bit jealous that she loved a universe that much and I wish that I did too. ¬†Granted, I did at one point: The Final Fantasy VI universe. ¬†I decided that it was time to revisit this place where my heart once belonged and see if there was still a place for it inside.

Thankfully, there was ¬†ūüôā

This one in particular pays tribute to a game that was such a huge part of my musical (and gaming) upbringing.  I decided to make the cast of the game in perler beads (beads on grid, iron them down into a pattern) and it really enabled me to rediscover what I love about the game.

My fiancee would ask about the dog, for example, I could explain that the dog was the companion of the detached and dark ninja, Shadow and the canine’s name was Interceptor. ¬†He was the village dog in Thamasa, but had a particular affinity for Shadow back when he was a robber named Clyde. ¬†You know, Thamasa is a pretty interesting village… (and then go on from there).

Another time, she asked about the man in the life jacket (Cid) and I recounted the Solitary Island part to her, especially with Celes and her complicated personal struggle.

Even now, the real beauty of the game is the complexity of story and backstory in each character.  I mean, the plot is interesting, but it really just enables the characters to deal with their struggles and overcome their own personal demons.  The game has a loose story, but the best narrative is the 16 parallel stories going on inside the characters.

I still love it and still think it’s beautiful ūüôā

Kenley

VGM Wednesday – “Super Mario RPG Medley” by GaMetal

“Almost every song” from¬†Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, by GaMetal, posted by January 9, 2012.

I don’t have words… Actually, his comments say everything for themselves, so here they are:

Almost EVERY song from the soundtrack is featured.

This song itself is split into 7 ‘acts’ as I’d like to call them, combined together to form this enormous tribute. Over 40 different songs are featured; the tracklist (with nifty time links!) is as follows:

Act 1: In the Beginning
The Sword Descends and the Stars Scatter 00:00
Got a Star Piece (Pt 2) 00:45
Fight Against Koopa 00:54
Super Pipe House 1:45
Where Am I Going? 2:33
The Road is Full of Dangers 2:53
Fight Against Monsters 3:26
Victory 3:55

Act 2: Mushroom People and Tadpole Adventures
Hello, Happy Kingdom 4:20
Still, the Road is Full of Dangers 5:23
Fight Against a Somewhat Stronger Monster 6:00
Let’s Go Down the Midas River 7:27
Grandpa and the Delightful Tadpoles 7:54
Shock 8:31
Sad Song 8:33

Act 3: Geno, Yoshis, and Moles
Here’s Some Weapons! 9:34
Let’s Play Geno 10:15
Beware the Forest’s Mushrooms 10:43
Rose Town 11:51
Welcome! Yo’ster Isle! 12:16
Let’s Race 13:02
Hard-working Moles are Good Moles 13:19
Docaty Mountain Railroad 13:55

Act 4: Booster and his Wedding
Welcome to Booster Tower 14:41
And My Name’s Booster 15:23
Slope 17:11
The Merry Marry Bells Ring 17:38
The Starlights Flower 18:18

Act 5: The Sea, the Monster Town, Clouds and Volcanos
Sunken Ship 18:42
Going Shopping in Seaside Town 19:02
My Paradise -Monstro Town- 19:29
Margarie Margarita 20:13
Let’s do the Fluff-Fluff! 21:11
Barrel Volcano 22:21
The Axem Rangers Drop In 22:58
Fight Against an Armed Boss 23:25

Act 6: The Path to Smithy and the Final Battle
Koopa Castle 24:44
Weapons Factory 26:03
Fight Against Smithy 27:28
Fight Against Smithy, Who Likes Transforming 28:39

Act 7: A Grand Ending
Goodbye, Geno 31:08
Seeking Dreams through the Windows of the Stars 32:11
Happy Parade, Delightful Parade 33:19
And the Parade Draws to a Close 36:02

I love that this was a labour of love for him.¬† Also in the comments, he’s said that he works on this 3-10 hours per day, 5 days a week.¬† He just wanted it to be perfect.

(but seriously, imagine learning almost every part on almost every song on an album/soundtrack).

Good job, sir ūüôā
Kenley