Tag Archives: Music

Wandersong (PC, PlayStation 4, Switch & Xbox One)

Developer(s) – Greg Lobanov

Publisher(s) – Humble Bundle

PEGI – 7

Released in 2019 to an overwhelmingly positive reaction from gamers and critics alike, Wanderson is a 2D platformer centering around music; puzzles are solved with music, new areas are uncovered with music, and abilities within the game are taken advantage of through music. Developed by Greg Lobanov with the music and sound put together by Em Halberstadt and Gordon McGladdery, it’s one of those games that is a true labor of love and is evident within every aspect of it. I interviewed Greg Lobanov sometime before the initial Kickstarter program was successfully funded:

https://scousegamer88.com/2016/07/09/qa-with-greg-lobanov/

And I’m glad I did; looking back, I’m thrilled that this game has since garnished the critical and commercial acclaim that I felt it deserved before release, and the game did not disappoint by any means. 

 

Graphics – 8/10

Firstly, the conceptual design of the game is nothing short of beautiful. Each area is vibrantly colorful and a pleasure to beyond, be that whether the game takes the player into dark caves, skyward temples, and peaceful towns. Each area has a different main color palette, similar to the original Yoshi’s Island, and works flawlessly to distinguish each area as the player visits them. Influence from several cultures and periods in human history is also evident in the architecture of the game, such as Indian culture and even modern-day culture, and overall simply adds to its visual diversity. 

 

Gameplay – 8/10

As I alluded to, the gameplay involves the player taking control of a young bard and must progress through the game by singing. Singing is at the core of the gameplay; the player sings to move platforms for jumping across, to manipulate wind traps to move ahead, to advance the story, and to solve puzzles among many other things. It’s definitely one of the most interesting and innovative platformers to have been developed in recent times, and to me, even outstripping many other indie titles in terms of gameplay, including Journey and Flower. There’s much more to play for in this game than in many indie titles to have been developed throughout the eighth generation; players will not be disappointed going into it. 

 

Controls – 10/10

The control scheme has been handled as well as any other platformer; in that respect, there are no negative issues to be addressed. I’m actually quite impressed with just how singing and dancing are incorporated into the game’s control scheme very effectively to allow for a lot of things the player must do in order to progress through each area of the game. There have been indie games released, such as The Swapper and Contrast, that have had innovative gameplay mechanics but have arguably not been used to their full potential to provide as great an experience as what could have been; but Wandersong delivers on that spectacularly. 

 

Lifespan – 7/10

What the game also delivers in a big way, compared to many other indie games, is lifespan. Taking around 12 hours to complete fully, it’s definitely one of the longest linear 2D side scrollers I’ve played in a long time. Side scrollers that long don’t normally get released unless it’s by a mainstream development company. It could be argued that it was to be expected given the somewhat lengthy development cycle this game had, but it still excels compared to many other indie games that have taken just as long to develop, if not longer.

 

Storyline – 7/10

The story follows the young bard, named by the player in-game, who embarks on an adventure to learn what is known as the Earthsong, which according to prophecy, is the only way to prevent the upcoming end of the world. Along the way, the players will meet a massive cast of characters, each with their own stories and situations to be resolved, which all add so much depth to the story. A lot of the different situations in this world can be seen as very true to life and it does incredibly well to connect with gamers. This game actually has a better story than a lot of other indie games that focus on story sacrificing gameplay in the process. With Wandersong, there is a clear equilibrium between the two. 

 

Originality – 10/10

Simply put, there is no other game like Wandersong. I’ve never played a game whereby music and singing are so integral to how the player must progress through it, and enjoyed it as much as this. Games like Parappa the Rapper and Guitar Hero are obviously titles that make use of music within the gameplay, but Wandersong does even better to integrate it into gameplay, making for, as far as I’m concerned, better titles than the two formers. Platformers have been coming and going since the 80s, but never handled in the way as what it is in this game. 

In summation, Wandersong is an excellent game from start to finish. Any platforming fan needs to give this game a try; it’s innovative, enjoyable to play, beautiful to behold with a wonderful soundtrack to listen to along the way, and again, I’m happy for Greg Lobanov and the team to have gotten the recognition they deserved for it.

 

Happii

Score

50/60

8/10 (Very Good)

Q&A With Zero Uno Games

In my search for more promising games seeking crowdfunding, I came across an upcoming title that caught my eye as an avid Brutal Legend Fan; Metal Tales: Overkill. Developed by indie outfit from Span, Zero Uno Games, Metal Tales: Overkill is a top-down action-adventure rogue-lite heavy on combat and heavy on metal. Players customize weapons by finding new guitar parts and modifying them to take advantage of new abilities and increased attack power, giving the game a plethora of variety. The game boasts 4 playable characters, 6 stages, 8 boss fights, local multiplayer, and a soundtrack consisting of various international heavy metal bands. Eager to find out more, I contacted Zero Uno Games and arrnaged a Q&A with co-founder Juan Cañete for more information on this exhilarating-looking new title. Here’s what Juan and the game’s puiblisher had to say about Metal Tales: Overkill:

What were the influences behind your game?

Brutal Legend, Binding of Isaac & Furi.

 

What has the developmental process been like?

It took over 15 months to have the game finished, and it’s taking like 6 months to do the ports, so it’s been complicated.

 

How close are we to seeing the finished product?

We need to finish the ports to consoles, but the game is already done and working.

 

What has been the most exciting aspect of development?

Being able to have real bands music and doing a rogue-lite game.

 

What has been the most challenging aspect of development?

The music part has been quite challenging, but it was worth it.

 

How well has the game been received so far?

Publisher: We think it has had a good reception. It got financed on Kickstarter in only 8 hours… and we are now on Indiegogo. We have to work hard to let the world know we are here.

 

What platforms are you looking to bring the game to?

PC, PS4 & Switch.

 

Which heavy metal band’s songs have been included in the soundtrack?

Publisher: We have talked with Eclipse Records to add some interesting songs. Here’s a poster with the bands:

 

Have there been any ideas at this stage of development that has since been scrapped or reworked?

Yeah! a lot, starting with some bosses (we had designed a boss compounded by Twins) and some items. At the start, there was a more Guitar Hero-like approach to boss fights but it did fall through quickly.

 

As one heavy metal fan to a group of others, what are the team’s favorite metal bands and how did their music help to shape the game specifically?

Basically, in the team we had a metalhead which was the designer, He is more into death metal: Carcass, Entombed, Wormed, Avulsed. The lead programmer was more into power and progressive metal and also we had some people with other influences outside the metal world.

 

How have the company’s prior developing experiences helped to shape Metal Tales: Overkill?

We started with mobile games, and then we jumped into Metal Tales. Our prior experiences helped up working together as a team.

 

If you had the opportunity to develop a game with any company or any franchise, which would it be, and why?

We’d love to make a game for the band Ghost.

  

Do you have any advice for aspiring developers that may be reading this?

Play games and make games. Participate in gamejams to improve gameplay concepts and to challenge yourself trying to finish them.

 

Where on the Internet can people find you?

Zero Uno Games’ social media and Web Page, also on Kickstarter and Indiegogo:

Zero Uno Home Page

Kickstarter

IndieGoGo

Do you have anything else to add?

Thanks for the interview!

Massive thank you to Juan and Zero Uno Games for taking the time out to talk to me about this awesome-looking game. Personally, I’ve been waiting for a long time to play a new game inspired by Brutal Legend, as it one of my favourite games, as well as my favourite Tim Schafer title overall. Metal Tales Overkill looks to have taken the overall feel of Brutal Legend to bring gamers an entirely new gaming experience, and I can’t wait to get stuck into this game.

Game on,

Scouse Gamer 88

Scouse Gamer 88 PaRappa the Rapper 2 Header

PaRappa the Rapper 2 (PlayStation 2)

Developer(s) – NanaOn-Sha

Publisher(s) – Sony Computer Entertainment

Director – Masaya Matsuura

Artist – Rodney Greenblat

PEGI – 7

 

Receiving largely mixed reviews upon release, in stark contrast to the first game, PaRappa the Rapper 2 is a slightly longer, and even more embarrassing game, adding only a few new features and nothing else. Whilst I reviewed the first PaRappa the Rapper, I said that things got worse; and I wasn’t kidding.

 

Graphics – 3/10

Once again designed around the artistic style pioneered by American artist Rodney Greenblat, the sequel uses the same kind of 2D characters and colorful 3D environments; only this time, since this was a relatively early PlayStation 2 title, the graphics are fairly outdated. In fact, I’d go so far as to say the game actually looks like it could run on Nintendo 64 hardware. A lot of the cutscenes portraying wide-open spaces seem to corroborate on this too.

 

Gameplay – 0/10

The gameplay remains largely the same as in the first title and is just as unbearable. The only new aspect added is that of a few mini-games in between some of the main eight levels, and warm-up phases before each one, but none of these things can be considered a saving grace in my opinion. I’ve always thought rhythm games to be among some of my least favorite gaming genres, and since there’s nothing here to suggest that this game does anything significantly different, it does little to change my perception.

 

Controls – 10/10

Although there are no issues with the controls, it wasn’t any significant challenge to get them right in the first game, and there’s nothing to suggest that they should have faced any kind of hardship whilst developing the sequel either. There’s nothing innovative, exciting, or different about it compared to other games, and whilst the lack of errors is the best thing I can point out about this game, I would have expected nothing else; lest there be even bigger problems.

 

Lifespan – 1/10

Clocking up at about one hour and twenty minutes, the second game is about twice as long as the first, but still an abysmal amount of time for even an early sixth generation game to last. RPGs had already long entered the mainstream by this time, and 3D adventure games could be made to last significantly longer than they ever had done before, and a game like this would pale in comparison, and nine times out of ten, still does.

 

Storyline – 0/10

Following on from the first game, Parappa goes to a burger shop with his friend to find that food everywhere is mysteriously transforming into noodles. He investigates further along with a group of allies to find that the son of a famous burger shop owner is behind it and plots to have noodles take over the world. I’ve spoilt the ending for anyone reading, but I doubt anyone in the right mind would care.

 

Originality – 4/10

When I reviewed the first game last year, just after the E3 conference, I said that I would almost rather not have seen the rhythm gaming genre perpetuated at all; even if PaRappa was effectively the game that started it all. But given the fact that no significantly exciting new features have been added in the sequel, I’d say it has even less basis in originality than the first.

 

Furiious

Furiious

Overall, PaRappa the Rapper 2 is worse than the first game by some distance and is in my opinion, one of the worst games ever developed for the PlayStation 2. With talk of a third game possibly coming to PlayStation 4 following PaRappa’s appearance in PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, I can only hope it is released as a 3D platformer or something, and not another lackluster rhythm game.

Score

18/60

3/10 (Bad)

Scouse Gamer 88 Parappa the Rapper Header

PaRappa the Rapper (PlayStation & PlayStation Portable)

Developer(s) – NanaOn-Sha

Publisher(s) – Sony Computer Entertainment

Designer – Mayasa Matsuura

PEGI – 3

 

Credited as the first true rhythm game as a precursor to the 1978 game Simon, PaRappa the Rapper went on to become the 7th best selling game of 1997 and garnished many positive reviews from critics, as well as two gaming awards and net sales of 1.4 million units worldwide. But even at the time, I was less than impressed by the game, and have never been able to understand the appeal behind it.

 

Graphics – 5/10

One of the main talking points of the game is the unusual art direction, which was implemented to visually realize the game. Inspired by American graphic artist Rodney Greenblat, it features 2D characters in a 3D environment. Hats off to the developers for trying something that was very new at the time, but the general design of the game was about the only original thing the game had going for it in terms of graphics. The character designs are particularly poor, and by that token, the overall visual style of the game can only be appreciated for so long, the way I see it.

 

Gameplay – 0/10

PaRappa the Rapper may have begun the entire rhythm game genre, but it always has been, and most probably always will be, an extremely bad genre of video games. To me, the only thing that the rhythm games have been good for is influencing the idea of including context-sensitive gameplay into certain games, such as God of War or Dante’s Inferno. But as a standalone genre, I don’t think it’s worth anybody’s time.

 

Controls – 10/10

There are no issues with the game’s control scheme at least, but how hard could it have been to implement? Compared to adventure games and RPGs and so forth, I fail to see how there could have been much thought and effort put into how players play the game.

 

Lifespan – 0.5/10

Even for players unfamiliar with the rhythm game genre, this game will take about 40 minutes to complete, which is utterly pathetic. By that token alone, it’s impossible for the developers to justify charging full price at the time when there were many more and greater games out by then.

 

Storyline – 0/10

When I first played PaRappa the Rapper as a kid, I thought the story seemed as ridiculous as the gameplay and decided not to touch it again after the first level. After watching how the rest of the game’s story plays out, I discovered I wasn’t missing anything. The best thing I can say about the game’s story and the titular character is that they promote self-confidence. PaRappa lives by his motto of “I gotta believe”, and it helps him to attain his goals throughout the game. But other than this one flicker of positivity, there’s not much else I can praise the game’s story for. The voice acting as well as the basic premise is laughable at best.

 

Originality – 5/10

Although Parappa the Rapper perpetuated an original idea, which led to an entire genre, I personally would most rather not have seen it happen at all. Developers had put much more thought into their games than the developers of PaRappa the Rapper clearly did, and because of that, it’s clear to see why many rhythm game series have been discontinued since, such as Space Channel 5, Guitar Hero, and Rock Band.

 

Furiious

Furiious

In summation, Parappa the Rapper is an awful wretched game that to me should never have seen the light of day. A sequel followed, which is even worse in my opinion and there are rumors of a third game in the works. In which case, count me out.

Score

20.5/60

3/10 (Bad)