Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My Top 10 Favorite Video-Game Intros

This list is in no particular order and was NOT stolen from another individual. Copyright Infringement will not be tolerated and all property goes to Steven Chung....AH SCREW IT! I don't what you want. :) 

- Blog #12: Like my picture art? It's soon going to be 2011 and I thought it would be cool to start a final blog that would be talking about starting something else. This blog topic will be covering my favorite video-game intros and title screens. Basically, I was looking for intros that gave you a good feel on what the game was going to be like. It also had to give the player some sort of idea of what the storyline was. Again, I'm going to try and keep this list as one game per franchise. Here we go...(go ahead and "Press Start", why don't you?)

1. Metroid Fusion - Here's a classic intro that leaves you with the question, "Hey...what the hell is happening here?" That question, alone, describes the very nature of this game's plot. Being the first Metroid game I ever played, I really didn't know what to expect. What's great about this particular intro is that it makes the player WANT to know why the hero crashed their ship into an asteroid field. Unexpectedly, the game goes right into explaining that scenario and gives the briefing on what the mission is. In short, Samus Aran has been sent to the Biological Space Laboratories (B.S.L.) craft to investigate and eliminate a parasitic plague of X-Parasites, given along with the task of destroying the SA-X (an X-infected clone of Samus). With strange creatures popping out of nowhere, this game is marked as one of the more thrilling Metroid games. Personally, I think this Metroid game should also be recognized for the best soundtrack in the Metroid series.

2. Shadow the Hedgehog - I wasn't anticipating this game to be so...dark. Then I see the intro and I'm like, "Whoa...Shadow had a gun." I mean there were a lot of other cool things about this intro. However, the rock music mixed with the intensity of Shadow and all that gun action...I don't know. Honestly, this game was very fun. It's unlike my personality, but this game's dramatic outlook on Shadow's history really drew me in. This is not a game for those faint-of-heart Sonic the Hedgehog fans. If you're planning on buying this one (if it's even still out there), don't expect any sweet-talk from any of Sonic's friends. You're playing with fire, in a matter of speaking. Using some strong language and some very intense moments, it's no wonder that this game got a "'E-10' for ages ten and up" rating. There was even some slight drama over how this game is so "emo." I hate when people have to make things racial and stereotypical. In fact, it's a matter that shouldn't even be discussed. Just play the game to play the game! For God's sake! If you let Shadow hear that kind of drama, he'll freaking eat you alive!

3. Star Fox 64 - I know I've already talked a lot about this one in my previous blogs. Let's keep this entrant simple. The reason I like this intro is because it's unique and it's made for the sole purpose of introducing the game. I'm sure there are going to be some arguments over things like, "Star Fox: Adventure or Star Fox: Assault have more epic intros." Well, yeah sure. They might be more epic, but most of their intros feature gameplay-footage or cinematic clips from the game. I don't call those "intros." I call it a montage of what you're about to see from this game. Those are two completely different things. The intro of Star Fox: 64 tells you what you're going to be doing for this game. It's introduced in an epic fashion of having your team members run to their planes for some high-flying action. This intro developed Star Fox into the franchise that it is today. MAKE ANOTHER GAME, NINTENDO! I know that there were other Star Fox games made before this one, but none made Star Fox more known than Star Fox: 64.

4. ALL Super Smash Bros. Games - So, you've heard the point I made about cut-scenes and gameplay-footage intros for #3 on this list, right? Well, for these games, forget about it. I know I'm once again breaking my rules for having more than one game per franchise. To be fair though, that rule only applied for individual entries...and it's my list (I can do what I want!). Besides, for all these games that mainly revolve around the matter of beating the crap out of everybody, I'll gladly make room. The intros are perfect for these types of games. They give you an ideal picture of who's going to be featured in the melee and it displays the awesome aspects of the game. You have to watch the intros and play the games to understand the full concept of this.

5. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time - There was a lot of going back-and-forth on whether I should put this intro on the list or The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess intro on here. Ultimately, I chose this one. For one reason or another, I can't think of a Zelda prologue more dynamic than this one. It was a really tough call. In fact, the main deciding factor was that I thought the music was much better in the Ocarina of Time's version. Even for the era it was created, the Ocarina of Time's graphics were fantastic. Moon falls, beautiful piano music starts up, Link rides along on his horse. All the while, everyone is playing the game to watch in awe. It's like watching a heroic intro to an old-animated movie or something in the "Robin Hood" genre, whereas the Twilight Princess' version doesn't seem to hold the same amount of pleasure from the title. Both were great, but I personally think that Ocarina of Time wins.

6. Megaman 8 - Here's a classic standard that isn't so classic. Megaman 1-6 had the original 8-bit graphics, while 7 and 8 moved to something more different. This only led things to return to 8-bit for Megaman 9 and 10. Megaman 8 had something that all of the other games lacked. Megaman 8 had an awesome animated intro. It reflects Megaman's character and it reflects on Megaman's past enemies. While it doesn't exactly show you what's going to happen in the game...who cares? It's a Megaman game! You blast stuff, you beat robot masters, and you defeat Dr. Wily (for the 8th time...). Another main difference with Megaman 8 is the animated cutscenes in between certain checkpoints in the game.

7. Mario Power Tennis - Mario sports games have become all the rage. There are games that involve golf, soccer, baseball, and even tennis! One of the greatest things I noticed about all of these games is the fact that all of them have some awesome (and funny) graphical intros. Since there aren't many Mario games with decent or memorable intros, I've decided to look further into which sports intro I loved the best. All of their graphics were amazing, but only one of them stood out. That was the Mario Power Tennis intro. It was longer than almost all of the other sports games combined. It showed me that the creators put a lot of time and dedication into it. It may be long, but it was fun. It introduced the ideas of tennis and all of the other Super Mario wackiness embedded in it.

8. Pokémon Red - The most nostalgic intro that started it all. Pokémon Red came out at the same time as Pokémon Blue. If you could believe it, I chose Red over Blue because of the two Pokémon used in the intro. In Red, they used Gengar and Nidorino. In Blue, they used Gengar and...Jigglypuff. Why they set up the intros so differently and why they even chose Jigglypuff for Blue, I'll probably never know. I guess, if I had a choice between Nidorino or Jigglypuff, I'd go the Nidorino route. So, what was the main reason that made me chose Red over Blue? Watch the video under the first one to find out why.

(If you still don't get it...shame. -_-)

9. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater - This one's almost better than a James Bond intro. What's great about Metal Gear Solid intros is that the intros have the decency to include the creators in a credit-like sequence. What made the 3rd Metal Gear Solid intro better than the others was the music. Mixed with the graphics of newspaper articles on events that took place during the Cold War-Soviet Union era, the music gave you the feeling that you're about to play something of the "007" nature. The hero, Snake, has been sent alone to a jungle to rescue a weapons designer and end the ploy of a super-weapon threat. So, the intro matches perfectly with the environment in which you're going to be playing in for most of the game. Metal Gear Solid games are like watching and playing a movie. Interactive movies!

10. Donkey Kong 64 - I don't even think I need to explain why I like this one. At one point in this song, I'm surprised the game wasn't slapped with an "E-10" or "'T' for Teen" rating. Ah...this was way back when people didn't make such a big deal over little words or stereotypical rap music.

- Done. As a side note, I'd like to wish all the blog readers a Happy New Year! By 2011, I hope to write new blogs on topics that you want me to write about, or blogs that I had planned out for next year. Wishing you the best! (Don't drink too much egg-nog!) 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

My Top 10 Best Christmas Songs

This list is in no particular order and was NOT stolen from another individual. Copyright Infringement will not be tolerated and all property goes to Steven Chung....AH SCREW IT! I don't what you want. :)  

- Blog #11: Due to excruciating times and struggles of college and school curricular, I've been very negligent in avoiding this site for a bit. However, the near-glacial temperature has given me the necessary motivation in finding a new topic to discuss. Christmas time is a very special time of year. For some, this holiday is the beginning of the end for the previous year. For others, it is a time to reflect on some of the greatest holiday traditions ever. When I think of Christmas, one thing comes to mind right away. That very thing is the holiday music that summons itself out of nowhere. It's the end of Thanksgiving and "Ka-POW!" Christmas music is playing on the radio at 12:00 am, which is the day after. This blog was made to specially commemorate some of the best Christmas songs that I've ever heard. 

1. 12 Days of Christmas (The Muppets Version) - I love the "12 Days of Christmas" song anyway, but I immediately think of this rendition when the song is brought up into discussion. I remembered the good old days where I would sit in the comforts of my living room and put on a cassette (yes...they were still used) with some of the best Christmas music ever. This was back when the Muppets ruled the world. One of the songs was the Muppets version of "12 Days of Christmas" and, the first time I heard it, I said in my mind: "Oh my God....MUPPETS!" This song is great because you think you're going to hear a regular man sing it (which would have worked, since John Denver had a great voice), but nope. Suddenly, Fozzy the Bear comes in! Whoo-Hoo! Then, you got an entourage of Muppet voices and you relive the funny moments of creativity at its best.

2. Feliz Navidad - "Who would-a thunk it?" Spanish lyrics in a Christian holiday song. If I recall, this song was also featured on the very same cassette I mentioned in #1. Sure, it's repetitive and there's really only one set of lines/lyrics to the entire song. However, was anybody else attracted to José Feliciano's voice when this song was played? I was. I'm not going to lie. It's not even about what the song was saying. It's Feliciano's voice and the feeling of joy that you got when you heard this music. I swear it gets better every year.

3. Sleigh Ride - I really enjoy this piece of music. Listening to this song really does give you the sensation that you're riding on a sleigh. All in a beautiful Christmas-like climate. There's another reason that I have this song on my list, though. I've listened to a lot of Christmas songs and, as a musician, I can say that this one is one of the hardest ones to play. I'm sure there are "hardcore" musicians reading this and thinking, "Oh that song's not hard. It's easy!"  Maybe it's easy for THEM to play, but they can't deny this song to be a challenge. Believe's harder than what many people make it out to be. I have a high respect for people who can perfectly play this Christmas beast.

4. Carol of the Bells - Here's another song that gives personification a workout. "Carol of the Bells" can give you the instant vision of bells that are ringing in a harmony of melodic rounds. It doesn't really matter how this song is composed. I've appreciated every composition made from this piece, even Family Guy's Burger King version. Ding...dong...ding...dong......(Ding! Fries are done! Ding! Fries are done!)

5. A Holly Jolly Christmas - Burl Ives has a very unique voice that many people will not be able to top, even in the many years to come. Many people see Ives as the snowman who sings this song on Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. To be honest, so do I. I remember Ives the Snowman singing and narrating the show and I believe that every child should grow up watching Rudolph and Ives on Christmas. It's a classic song. The song is telling you to have a merry holiday and do what any courteous person would do and say hello to friends you know...and everyone you meet (I wasn't trying to be cute there).

6. Breath of Heaven (Mary's Song) - This is a song that I'm sure not many people have thought of along the thoughts of Christmas. Indeed. This is a Christian song written by Amy Grant and it was made for the purpose of the popular Christian holiday. It's just a sweet, soothing tune that can warm anyone's heart. I first heard of this song through one of Boney James' Christmas albums, which is where I listened to his saxophone version of "Breath of Heaven." One of Amy Grant's best songs. This piece is a beautiful addition to my list.

7. Silent Night - Unlike "Breath of Heaven", "Silent Night" seems to get all the attention when you get right down to it. It's another Christian song celebrating Christ, our savior. Why this gets more attention than "Breath of Heaven" is beyond my line of logic, but I know that this song has caught many people's ears. It really does give you this inner feeling of peace in your soul. If ever I am asked to sing this for a special Christmas event, I would gladly partake.

8. I'll Be Home For Christmas - Here's a great song. Think about it like this. You have a family member or a very close friend who's away from you...for a long period of time. You're nearing the holiday season and you're thinking about if your loved one will make it home for Christmas. This song could very well be a tribute to those who leave their families to apply their craft, in their trade, elsewhere. War, out-of-state jobs, out-of-country jobs, and even excursions can be the hair's split end. In the end, those people want to return home. Our hopes go out with this song and those who work very hard for what they want to accomplish.

9. O Christmas Tree - Music is sometimes considered poetry in a melodic movement. This song is a poem within music. It tributes the traditional addition to the holiday shin-digs. There are many versions of this song out there, but all revolve around the same point. The Christmas tree remains tall and proud, while all the presents are laid around (my inner-poet). I guess the idea of praising a mascot for nature is a respectable reason for this song to be featured here.

10. Christmas Time is Here - A song that literally tells you that Christmas time is here! I give you my holiday song of choice. This song's most famous role was being the intro music to the first ever Peanuts show made (made possible by the great Vince Guaraldi). Whenever Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown came on the air, you knew that you were nearing the holiday. This song is just wonderful to sing to, listen to, and play a musical instrumentation to. Just now, I'm visioning Charlie Brown and his friends skating on the ice. Remembering the good old days makes me weep in my heart. Shows and music just aren't made the same just can't stop progress. I usually don't like picking favorites to anything, but this song really leaves my mind on the fence. If not THE best song, "Christmas Time is Here" is one of the most memorable Christmas songs ever!

- Done. (Happy Holidays from Steven Chung!)