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Woah, so it’s 15 years since I left university?! WOAH!! It’s 20 years since Pokemon!! WOAH, it’s 476 millennia since I posted part one of the Grand Revotunion! And all through March I was like “nah, I’ll wait til April and use this sucker then” and whaddya know, that whole freakin’ month went by and no postage. So thank the Dibloons for Lartens whose tech-bantz saved our perfect run…
But fret not. For here we are, gentlemen, at the official unveiling pf Part 2. Which would be exciting except I am, of course, effectively just going to re-post comments that you two have not only read but have, in fact, written. But to dwell on such things would be madness incarnate so let’s crack most swiftly on!
Sonic CD – Palmtree Panic (Present) – Jap / EUR version
Yes, there’s nothing that a high-pressured journalist with a deadline likes more than picking a track from Sonic CD. It’s one of those quick wins you know? Those ‘speed tasks’. The ones that ‘write themselves’. I am, of course, joshing with you as it’s a freakin’ nightmare. Jap version? US version? Past, present, and future versions?! Mega CD, Sega PC, Xbox re-release, 20th anniversary remix, fan-dub… Holy b’griggers. Still, if you want an example of when developers gave a flying hoot about their music, picking a game with six versions of every level is a good option, no?
Zelda II: The Adventure of Link – Temple/Palace Theme
Oh yes, we’re mixing it up. Choice from Dibbs right up there with a choice from Lartens just down here? It’s all happening! And as if that weren’t enough, I’ve freakin’ McGroove’d up the joint with this little number. Hey, I’ve got to add some value right? Check out his high speed acapella action at the one minute mark. Oof, that’s a doozy!
Nights into Dreams – Soft Museum
This is a classic Pom-style selection – that little pan-pipe riff at one-minute in is just your kind of jam, eh grigadiers? Interestingly though, not a game I’d have ever picked out for its music. Probably because I had such high levels of stress just trying to pull off a grigging paraloop that my ears had probably shut down or something.
Zelda II – Overworld Theme
I mean woah, talk about going off in new directions you weren’t expecting. If you’ve never played Zelda II, like me, you hear this puppy strike up and you’re thinking, oh, OK, it’s an old version of the SNES music. But no way, Jose Carreras. It fires off in all kinds of places you didn’t see coming. Because what about that crazy-assedness when you’re 40 seconds in? This was some avant-garde 80s activity and no mistaking.
Sega Rally Championship – Getting Muddy (Mountain Stage)
Just like that time when Celine Dion knocked the UK into 2nd place in Eurovision ’88, Sega Rally’s OST slipped out of the GRiG’s first list by just a single point. And much like Scott Fitzgerald’s loss, it wasn’t without controversy. Indeed, while Dion, like Part 1 of The Revitunion, is now beloved by Titanic-fans and perverts everywhere, the fact that the Canadian-born songstress represented neutrality’s very own Switzerland – a country that is not in Canada – shocked Euro-philes to their core. And there’s an unnerving similarity there to the horror of the the GRiG-reading masses who couldn’t believe that Sega Rally, as the undisputed holder of an All-Time Top 5 Video Games Placard (laminated), didn’t make the cut first time around. It was, indeed, a shock. Even to me. As I wrote it. For there’s a perfection to Sega Rally that is, as Louis Walsh might say – were he judging this musical run-down with the X Factor hyperbole that is his wont – exactly what this competition is looking for. Every curve is well placed, every leap is well timed – and the music is the seamless extension of that attention to excellence. Joe Satriani plays his part, of course (just as he did in the burgeoning career of Kirk Hammett, tutoring the young lad before he went on to join Metallica in 1983. (C) GRiG Facts 2016). But he’s not quite the main man. For let us use the fag-end of this lengthy piece to pay tribute to that other unsung hero of Rally’s epic tunes – Mr Naofumi Hataya. For Fumi-san was not only lead composer on the Saturn port soundtrack (kudos), but also on none other than Sonic CD and Nights. And Golden Axe 2. Well I never.
Super Mario Bros 2 – Overworld Theme
My favourite thing about this little number is the echoes of the music for Jim Davidson’s classic ’90s gameshow Big Break. It would fit seamlessly into, for instance, Virgo’s Trick Shot. That said, Mario has done a great deal to eliminate racism in the modern world, what with being simultaneously Japanese and Italian-American, while Davidson has shamefacedly [SNIP – GRiG lawyers] all through the 80s. So the similarities are fairly short lived. As they were, of course, between the original Super Mario and its vegetable-throwing cousin. Diversity, you see. It’s how things should be.
Ask yourself: would you ask Beyoncé to build you a conservatory? Would you ask a nine year old to file your tax returns? Would you ask a Labrador to drive you down the shops? Well no, of course you wouldn’t. And why not? Because that lot clearly don’t know what they’re doing. By which logic, avert your eyes right now Grigadiers, because this is an article about melody written by a tone-deaf 35 year old. Its conclusions may be… flimsy.
Yes, I’m no Steve Wright in the afternoon when it comes to picking my pops. But this much I know: the music in Wii U Mario is rubbish. Tragically rubbish, in fact, because the game itself is superb – so giddyingly near-perfect, in fact, that its horrific soundtrack is not just abusive to the ears, it’s jarring to the soul. This melodically-challenged mush is basically elevator music. Or worse – because even in the urine-soaked lift in Blackpool’s Houndshill Shopping Centre you at least have the comfort that you didn’t pay £55 for the privilege. So it’s a sad failing for the company, and the franchise, that’s brought us some of the most memorable themes of the past three decades. And it got me thinking.
Some piss-stained mush, yesterday.
It wasn’t always like this.
When you look back, gaming’s musical past stands out not just because of the number of belters – the ratio of memorable tunes to garbage during the 8-bit and 16-bit eras was pretty healthy, too. And why? Because they had to try! When the tools were rudimentary, the only thing they had was their skill. It took craft – and a melody! Because sure, orchestral nonsense and EDM are great when you’re padding out level 42 of your latest blockbuster franchised gumph but, to be a classic, it needs a tune! And so begins the GRiG Campaign for Melody – our noble crusade to bring back the art of tunage and save the Millennials from a dystopian future of half-baked auditory hell. Viva la Revotunion!
And, to whet your whistle, here are some classic examples of how it was done – and a few newbies to show that some still keep the dream alive… (And yes, not for nothing does Smooth McGroove make an appearance. Because what unites the Smooth Megamix? Melody! His acapella loveliness only works with exactly these kind of gems… So sing on McGroove! You’ve earned yourself a GRiGPeter Badge!)
Super Mario Land – Muda Kingdom
Of course, you know I love a bit of Muda Kingdom. Often overlooked in the face of the main Mario theme, this is a beautiful bit of 90s dreaminess. All the better with the Man McGroove at the helm…
Bravely Default – Dungeon Theme
A man scratching his nose, yesterday. (Wait, has he even got a nose?!)
Of course, RPGs are a good hunting ground for hwality tunage. They need a bit of mood and so they do put in the man hours. This puppy is actually what first made me think of this article – it’s the first bit of modern game music I’ve had stuck in my head for years. It is a slow burner – the best bit is really a riff, and you’ll find it at about 1:04! – but it’s a standout tune… And if you’re wondering why this YouTuber has called this music “Infiltrating Enemy Territory” and I’ve called it “Dungeon Theme”, well… He’s right. But he’s also a tosspot. Who calls music that unless they’re making some kind of bad euphemism about bumming? Not me! That’s who!
Super Castlevania IV – Simon’s Theme
A box posted by an unimaginative YouTuber, yesterday.
Can there be a game music chart – hell, can there be a music chart?! – that doesn’t feature Castlevania?! Stonking.
Sonic 2 – Chemical Plant Zone
A bearded controversy, earlier
Sonic has quite a few claims to this list, as does the man Smooth. Arguably his version of Green Hill Zone is his better work – while the original game version of this one actually sounds better, benefitting from the synthy edginess that even McGroove’s acapella magic can’t reach. But I like to mix it up so…
Streets of Rage 2 – Dreamer
A contradiction, yesterday
Well, never let it be said that I shy from the controversies. Because one, why is Yuzo Koshiro all the way down here at, like, fifth in this list?! I disgust myself! And two, doesn’t this piece kind of disprove the melody theory? I mean, this is really dance music with a beat and a riff isn’t it? Erm.. Well, yes, as I think we’ve covered on these very pages, Yuzo was apparently quite a fan of 90s EDM and there’s more than a little of European House sprinkled through this Mega Drive classic. But it’s still a great example of making the most of your limits – there’s what, four tracks here? They’re so intricate – and actually that mid-section is verging on a tune. So get off my freakin case man. Jeez.
Street Fighter Alpha 2 – Akuma’s Theme
Knock knock. Who’s there? Akuma. Akuma who? Akuma mutata! Hahahahahahaha…, yesterday
Well, the surprises keep on coming. Because you say classic retro tunes and Street Fighter in the same sentence and you think you know what Benny’s gonna pull, don’t ya? You think he’s gonna reach for Guile’s theme with one hand, and Smooth McGroove with the other and slap down a bit of Guile/McGroove combo action in this here retro tune compilation sandwich! But boom! He’s pulled the old Akuma switcheroo on your asses! (I actually prefer Ken’s theme anyway…) Hey, remember when Capcom did cool buh that was, y’know, finished, rather than release half made games for twice the price? Ho ho, such good times.
Anwyay, here’s Guile’s theme from Smooth McGroove. Sorry.
A lack of surprise, earlier
So there you go – a half-arsed, cobbled together list. But this is only Part 1 of The Campaign (TM)! Clearly, there are loads of beauts I’ve missed off this effort. So how’s about it GRiGadiers – what are your favourites, old and new? Put them in the comments and I might even do a follow up article! (Please do. It’ll totally save me having to think of something new to write about in March. Hurrah!)
Sometimes, even the greats have to stop and take stock.
Amidst the constant stream of parties, women, and fast cars that is the life of the average GRiGadier, it’s easy to get lost in the heady daze that success brings. But how are we really doing, five years in? Are we the shining beacon of hope to the rest of humanity that we set out to be? To find out, we’re going head to head with the class of 2011 in a straight up Battle of the Greats. Via the magic of the Transspatial Temporal Dimensional Fluxovator (which I found down the sofa while looking for the remote over Christmas), we’ve tracked down our 5-year old peers and hauled them into the GRiG Halls of Justice to determine once and for all who’s the greatest.
Well, for starters, what a bunch of rip off bastards. A website launched in 2011 with a mix of entertainment and tech news? Get your own freakin ideas you bunch of punks! So embarrassed have the Verge been since this brazen act of pilfery that they’ve been forced to become of one of the foremost modern media sites in the world just to HIDE THEIR SHAME. That’s clearly a win to us.
The Hyundai Eon
Providing our first real competition of 2011, The Hyundai Eon launched to massive fanfare in October (so, amazingly, it’s still a few months shy of its 5th birthday!) and quickly became the world’s FAVOURITE car / product / word EVER. Several notable car companies including Ford, General Motors, Scalextric et al all immediately closed when it was launched out of pure fear and, indeed, the GRiG did consider a hiatus to see whether its hexagonal grille, crescent shaped tail lamps and sweeping curves would simply close the internet. Thankfully, the Eon limited its domination to being king of the road and left control of the web to us. But, while we come close in a head to head given the Eon’s lack of retro gaming coverage, even we can’t match this beast’s impressive mileage at 21.1 km per litre. A win for the world!
Even though the iPad had a few advantages over the nascent GRiGorig – launching half a year earlier, having the backing of a multi-billion dollar international company, having an “i” in front of its name – it’s fair to say it’s been a comparative failure ever since. By the time of the GRiG’s arrival, Apple were already scrabbling around with a new model because most people confused the first one with a cursed mirror that stole your soul – and embarrassingly, they’ve gone on to release loads of versions while the trusty GRiG has remained almost unread… wait, I mean unchanged… since its launch. And it gets worse, as these days most people now think the iPad is a tea coaster, whereas no one ever rests a hot beverage on the GRiG. And finally, of course, the iPad doesn’t even have a keyboard whereas we’ve got, like, three. I mean, frankly, it’s been a paltry half-decade of insignificance for Apple so let’s move on.
Just like the poetry of GRIGorig’s name, the massive popularity of Mycoplasma mycoides JCVI-syn1.0 owes much to how its name trips off the tongue. Marketing, you see. And that’s not all that the world’s first fully synthetic organism shares with your favourite retro gaming blog. Both are made on a computer. And… well, they’re the only two things. In the five years since its birth, however, Mycoplasma mycoides JCVI-syn1.0 has struggled to keep pace with the GRiG’s exponential rise, and these days most scientists acknowledge we’ve made a greater difference to the advancement of mankind. However, few people fear that we might accidentally morph into a world-destroying superbug. And that’s a real chink in our armour. Point to the world, methinks.
Well, GRIGadiers, like every Royal Rumble, this GRiG At 5 WrestleFest has only five rounds [note to sub – check the rules of wrestling before publication. Thanks!] – so before we announce our final competitor, let’s have a quick look at some other Titans of Nature who have tussled with the GRiG in the last calendrical quintet.
Super Street Fighter IV
Launching a few months ahead of the GRiG, SSFIV is arguably the definitive version of this next-gen brawler and certainly one of the best fighters of all time. Sadly, while the GRiG has remained free to all comers, Capcom have proceeded to fleece their adoring fans for every penny just to change the colour of their clothes. Or something.
When Sphero launched in 2011, it was thrillingly billed as “a robotic ball that can be controlled by your phone”. Which of course sounded shit, so its founders saved the day by explaining “it’s fabulous for dogs and cats” and pointing out “you can imagine the military applications for something like that too”. Thus proving they had absolutely no idea what to do with it, either. But, five years on, and it’s turned into BB-8 – and even George Lucas in his wildest, wettest dreams couldn’t imagine merch that cute. So well played, Sphero.
Back in 2010, some claimed 3D-tv wouldn’t take off. And they were absolutely correct. It’s terrible, and this gif of a man with a match is, genuinely, better than any 3D film I’ve ever watched. Sorry, progress, you lose.
Anyhoo, those also-rans were no match for the GRiG, so who’s the last contender to test our might? Are you sitting comfortably?! Then we’ll begin. Erm… or end. Oh god, I’m sorry, this has been going on a long time and I’m getting confused.
The Final Season of Lost
It’s been just over five years since Jack, Sawyer, Kate, and the other ones that no one can remember finally reached the end of their epic adventures and, it’s fair to say, their popularity has soared ever since. Yes, so beleaguered were fans by the time this monstrosity lurched to its hamfisted conclusion that there was wild partying when it finally ended and a sense of unity spread across the globe like never before. Since then, the eagerly anticipated follow-up, where former fans sit facing a grey wall screaming nonsense while wondering if they’re really alive or dead, has proved to be even more popular than the original and, in 2016, some have even finally got over the night-sweats and come to believe that their torment is really at an end. Joy, indeed. Sadly, all good entertainment should feature at least one episode with Teri Hatcher in it and, as we know, that’s one area where the GRiG has excelled. So, close as it was between us, the final point goes to… The GRiG!
And, in a meta-style twist that would make even J. J. Abrams proud, your own torment at trudging through this behemoth of an article has, also, finally ended. Hurrah! [sounds of rejoicing, mingled with gun shots and screams]
Until next decade! Adieu!
Man, that felt good. On a whim, I downloaded Super Mario Land on Virtual Console last night – and that puppy is still a belter! The platform stages are perfect (the bit where you ride a rolling rock was revolutionary and is still pretty good!), the music is brilliant (as well as the obvious themes, stage 2 is SO good – in fact, I’m gonna put that below too – and of course, the happy riff in this end music above is one of the all time greats), the graphics are classic Game Boy cute and… whaddya know, I went and completed that bad boy in one sitting.
It’s not a major feat, as I remember once completing it in the car on the way to school so it’s clearly a bit of a short adventure. But it was classic how, after more than TWO DECADES, i still remembered the tricks, the secrets, and which jumps are a real bitch. Even better, though, I’d forgotten about the submarine / plane stages – SO good!
Anyway, the point of this is it got me in the mood for more completions (and classic 90s gaming). So how about on Night Trap night let’s get ourselves a classic Game Boy game each on Virtual Console (or a Game Gear or NES game, I suppose) and complete that sucker in one night. It could be the night of four completions – a true Grigging record! Some suggestions to whet your whistle – Mega Man (any of), Shinobi (Game Gear), Balloon Kid (I kinda fancy playing this one again, which is where this all came from), Sonic 1 or 2 (Game Gear obvs), 6 Golden Coins (I’ve actually never played that I don’t think…)… man, there are loads. So, you in?!
Yes, it’s true – a brand spanking new release for the NES! This little beaut showcases 8-bit power at its grandest – and I’ll be darned if it doesn’t look all-tooting spankerific.
It’s not actually a game, but still does some marvellous things with the sound and graphics that will make you wonder why the NES isn’t still kicking it with the next gen punks. It’s a little powerhouse! I did wonder whether they’d managed to make the sound better because there was no game going on at the same time. I mean, it sounds pretty advanced compared to how I remember those tunes at the time. Impressive!
Anyhoo, watch away Grigadiers! And a very Merry Christmas to one and all! Ho Ho Groon!
What’s that you say? A Pokemon-esque JRPG featuring ghosts and a magic watch that’s made by Level-5 and raked in a billion dollars in Japan and is now winging its way to 3DS over here in the West?!
Holy Handhelds, that warrants a second post in a day*!
The inspo (that’s inspiration, said by a yoof) for this post was a Verge article confirming a U.S. release this autumn which didn’t mention the UK, but if you’re in the know (checked Google just now for two minutes), you’ll remember Nintendo confirming Europe distribution last year or some dang thang like that. So yay!
*Regular users will have noticed this post landed the wrong side of midnight so really it’s a different day. But as there are no regular users other than us three and those in the GRiG dungeon being made to watch by The Grig and his Whip I don’t think that really matters…
News can be slow to reach us here in GRiG Towers, ensconced, as we are, in our veritable fortress surrounded by the latest and greatest security features. I’ll still defend our choice to shut out the world – prompted as it was but the horrors of Teri Hatcher’s haircut – but sometimes the insularity can be a pest. The postman, for instance, often struggles to get across the moat with his little cart. Those Fedex delivery men have a devil of a time getting their vans through the minefield. And don’t even speak to me about the paper boy… What he’s done to offend the archers I don’t know, but it’s been many a moon since I’ve received my copy of the Eastbourne Argus. Who knows how Eastbourne Borough FC fared in their crucial play-off clash with Lewes in the 1997 Sussex County League?!
I shudder to think.
Anyhoo, sometimes messages of import filter through the vast security net. There was that messenger pigeon with the second season boxset of Desperate Housewives sellotaped to its leg that somehow managed to get into Numbnuts’ room on the second floor. Sadly, it was rewarded for its heroics by being pulverised with an old Nike Air Max as, in retrospect, a pigeon is a bad sort of messenger to send his way. I’m still wondering whether Susan copped off with the plumber guy.
A pigeon, yesterday. Some viewers may find these images distressing.
And then there was the time we invented the Transspatial Temporal Dimensional Fluxovator, allowing us to shift seamlessly between time and space, opening up vast possibilities for improving the lot of man, righting historical wrongs and guiding humankind to a kinder, happier future. And I must say, our test run to Ross’s sister’s living room to look up nuddy pics on her dial-up was a BIG success. A shame that I lost the remote control or we could have used it, like, LOADS.
Today, therefore, is a GREAT day. For news has reached us that a new VINYL record is going to be released! And passé though you may think this is, it features music from the 1990s! So it’s WAY ahead of its time! Sort of. You see, these are vinyl pressings of your favourite video games music – all in swanky boxes with special designs and whatnot. Hurrah!
A hint as to the real point of this article, yesterday.
Now for those of you who’ve read this far (which probably just includes me, proof reading this back) I salute you and will reward you with a very distilled version of the facts and link to the much better written article that I nabbed all this information from. Releases will include Streets of Rage (by our very own Yuzo Koshiro), Street Fighter II, and Shenmue – whoop – and, for some reason Battletoads. Actually, I scoff there, but I did listen to the Battletoads music and, while it’s terrible, it’s also kind of amazing for the NES.
My favourite news, though, was that Yuzo Koshiro was apparently influenced by European dance music – notably Enigma, of Return to Innocence fame. Well I never. That little tale has the makings of a film, with the poor repressed dance-music fan being all downtrodden by his vicious Japanese parents who want him to be an IT data cruncher and so he spends all his days holed up in his room with a secret Walkman with a mixtape that’s got Rhythm Is A Dancer on repeat until HURRAH! one day he combines HIS passion with THEIR ambitions and does computers AND music together! Sort of.
If you read the actual article (here), there’s also a little link to another piece about playing Shenmue for the first time, 15 years late. Kind of relevant after Diki’s piece / comment featuring just such an event recently.
Shenmue, yesterday. Or maybe in 1999. Who can tell?
Man, thinking about it, I could have just posted those two links and saved myself, and you two, a lot of time. Ashasha, but then where would we be?! Successful and rich due to capitalising on all the previously-wasted time you say?! Psshhhhh. I’m happy in my cell in GRiG Towers thank you kindly. Yes, Mr GRiG, I will have some more gruel, thank you. And a beating you say? Why, how delightful.
Yep, Mario. He now holds your destiny in the palm of his hand. Because this little Italian-American-Japanese is my opening player on Super Smash Bros – and the one who’ll determine… if I like it.
And what’s that got to do with your destiny?
Well, Mario won’t just determine if I like Super Smash Bros. Because I sense there is no liking Super Smash Bros. This is going to be an all or nothing encounter, people. Either you pick it up, pootle about, feel a bit meh and forget it ever existed.
Or it changes your life.
And right now, there’s a chance it could enter the realm of… Classic.
*shouts* Just a chance, mind you!
*whispers* Just a chance.
Right now, it’s just peering… Peering round the frame of a door… A door left ajar… A door marked ‘Legend’. Only time will tell if it pokes a toe into that room, steps into its hallowed air, and finds itself a comfy seat by the window. Only time and… Mario.
And then? Well then, my chums, you punkasses are getting down to Amazon dot co dot interweb, and you are freakin hi jinxing yo’selves a copy. IF Mario delivers, that is. IF it fulfils the potential it’s showing…
This is it! This is the moment that I defeated Ganon! After TWENTY years!
Yep, I figure I was 14 when I first started playing through Zelda. Many times I made it to the Dark World – hell, I must have got to the Master Sword about thirty times, and probably rescued Zelda about a hundred – but I never made it close to the end. And the reasons were myriad. Broken SNES’s, sold SNES’s, battery back up fails… I’ve had it all. But in a real life version of Link’s heroic quest, I persevered! And now, TWO DECADES later – battered, broken, beleaguered, but victorious – I’ve made it…
The sense of accomplishment is intense! Regular readers of the Grig (you two) will know this has been more than a gaming adventure – this is a very personal mission, exploring my own inability to see anything through to the end. So many games, projects, and avenues in life lie incomplete or failed behind me – but now, we look forwards! With Zelda, the very first objective coming to a final, belated fruition, there’s a sense of personal growth. Development. Completion.
And what did I do with my new found sense of self? Well, played Mario Kart of course. Ashasha…