Skeletroy’s Rearranged Memories #2

Rearranged Memories – King Dedede’s theme, New Messiah

Hey everyone, Skeletroy here again to reflect on a couple songs I did a while ago, and any other random memories and thoughts that come with them.

     3. Kirby Super Star – King Dedede’s theme

Original release date: December 1, 2015

Okay, on to songs that still hold up. Again, it’s not that the first two songs were bad, just not quite realized. But this one…this is one of my all-time favorite songs, from the first time I heard it at age 10 in Kirby’s Dream Land. The entire KDL soundtrack is fantastic, and really helped to showcase the Game Boy’s strengths when it comes to music. While the Game Boy has one less sound channel than the NES did, it was the PCM channel that was missing. I don’t think having the ability to play low-quality voice samples would have improved the Game Boy very much.  

The Super Star version of King Dedede’s theme added the final section to the song, which is why I credit it in the title. This was another attempt at a different musical direction, but wasn’t as much about trying to make it different as it was an attempt to match the musical style with the subject matter of the game, which is one of the overarching points to the SNES thrash project. Kirby games are cute, so I wanted to make “cute metal”, now given the moniker of “dreamland thrash”. It was a pretty fun experiment, meshing vibraphone, piccolo, and strings in with (simulated) heavy guitars and drums. There’s actually another version of this song locked away in the vaults. I wasn’t sure whether to go with the piccolo, or if I should use a trumpet instead. Considering how much I use the trumpet in other genres, I’m pretty happy with the choice I made here.

 

  1. Castlevania II: Belmont’s Revenge – New Messiah

Original release date: December 24, 2015

Another Castlevania song already? Yeah, I thought it’d be funny. Hopefully some of you thought so too, as I’ll be repeating the joke at least twice more. On a more serious note, this is where I began to turn the corner to really thinking about making these songs as intense as possible, and I have JimmyTR to thank for it. I was working on a song for his character for Adver-tainment (the TR crew were all going to be main characters in the second season), and Jimmy wanted it to sound as death metal as possible. Since the plans for the show were shelved, the song in question is currently unreleased *cough*August 2017*cough*.

This was very much an eye-opening moment, and led me to looking at each of my songs that were in progress to see if I had either the available space (120 measures maximum) or if it was enough under the maximum tempo (up to 300 bpm) to be able to double the tempos. This is why it’s handy to be working on a hundred songs at a time – after I double the tempo, I have to manually move every single note on every single track (of which there are thankfully only eight), and double the length of each of them to fit the new tempo…as you can guess, that takes quite a while. But then the fun really begins, as I see all the spaces in between the drum parts that weren’t there with the original slower tempo, and I start playing around to see what I can do. I love how this song turned out, but at the same time I kind of feel like I overdid the drums just a bit.

That’s going to wrap things up until next time. Coincidentally, I released another Kirby song today, you can listen to it here! Thanks for reading and listening!

Skeletroy’s Rearranged Memories #1

Hey everyone, I’ve been off doing my own thing for a while and haven’t posted much to the site in a while. I started a project called SNES Thrash Remixes which was an offshoot of Adver-tainment, which may or may not see the light of day as season 2 is just too much work. Anyway, I wanted to start posting the songs I’ve done to the site, and so to catch up I’ll be doing two old songs per post, along with two paragraphs for each, reflecting my past memories and more recent thoughts. These aren’t set in stone though, I’m just going to write about whatever comes to mind and hope for the best.

  1. Castlevania – Wicked Child

Original release date: October 1, 2015

Oh, the difference a day makes…or in this case, a year. I was working on a lot of video game cover songs to use as background music in another project, and wanted to start releasing some of them. SNES thrash remixes was conceived as Song of the Month, as I didn’t want to overwhelm myself with working on a huge project. It wasn’t long, however, before I found that doing all the music itself was another huge project inside of the first one. I remember thinking “I sure hope I can keep this pace up”, which seems laughable now. Simple math shows that it would have resulted in a twelve song album each year, and that seemed like a pretty good result to me. That also seems laughable now, as more simple math showed me that I’d probably be at it for the next 30 years if I only released 12 songs a year.

At the time of its release, Wicked Child was the best song that I had put together. At the time of this writing, it’s the only song to have a second version released. I wouldn’t say it’s because this version is bad, it’s more of a case where I hadn’t given it enough time but didn’t have enough experience to realize it. A good song is like a good hot meal, sometimes they need a bit of simmering time at the end to really bring all the flavor out. I hadn’t fully realized the “Castlevania sound” I wanted until a year later, when I did the entire soundtrack to the first game. So basically I redid this one so it wouldn’t stick out compared to the rest of the soundtrack.

  1. Metal Gear Solid 2 theme

Original release date: November 1, 2015

When I was younger and had dreams of being a world famous rock star, I had a binder of notes for ideas about releasing albums. I’ll most likely be revealing the details of a lot of these ideas, as it’s been almost 20 years since I’ve written them. One of those ideas was to first release a fairly standard album that kind of tiptoed around the different sounds that would be attempted later, then to go all out with those later albums. The second would be more of an acoustic style album, the third would be more metal, etc. Granted, it’s not the most marketable strategy when you consider how people as a whole fear change, but I never wanted to be pigeon-holed into repeating the same thing simply because it’s what people want.

This was the mindset I revisited with Song of the Month, albeit on a much smaller scale with the concept applied to individual songs instead of full albums. I went with MGS2 because it was about as different from Wicked Child as I could do at the time. Due to it being so different though, it was quite a challenge to get the final mix just right. This was a real challenge, learning how different sound levels needed to be to sound right as an mp3 compared to it pretty well always sounding right through DS speakers. It took something like 40 tries to get the final mix from my DS to the computer. Unfortunately, this song also suffers from “didn’t find my voice yet” syndrome, and will see an eventual re-release when I do a proper “military metal” album.     

 

Thanks for reading and listening! I released a new song today, and although it’s going to be a while before I get to it in this series, you can check it out here:

Skeletroy’s new album is here!

The Legend of the Musical Ninja is a collection of video game music spanning from 1987-1997, rearranged to sound like they’re all from the same game. Some imaginary SNES game that has a thrash metal soundtrack combined with traditional Japanese instruments like the shamisen and shakuhachi. I also included links to the original version of each song in this post, so that you might be able to appreciate the changes if you’re not familiar with the songs.

Zone 1 – Edo
Legend of the Mystical Ninja, SNES
Konami, 1991
Composed by Kazuhiko Uehara and Harami Ueko
Arranged by Skeletroy Blockbuster

Original version:

Chinatown
Revenge of Shinobi, Genesis
Sega, 1989
Composed by Yuzo Koshiro
Arranged by Skeletroy Blockbuster

Original version:

Daddy Mulk
The Ninja Warriors, Arcade, TurboGrafx-16
Taito, 1987
Composed by Hisayoshi Ogura
Arranged by Skeletroy Blockbuster

Original version:

Overworld
Little Ninja Brothers, NES
Culture Brain, 1989
Arranged by Skeletroy Blockbuster

Original version:

Tong City
Run Saber, SNES
Atlus/Horisoft, 1993
Composed by Hikoshi Hashimoto
Arranged by Skeletroy Blockbuster

Original version:

Dharmanyo
Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon, N64
Konami, 1997
Composed by Shigeru Araki, Yusuke Kato, Saiko Miki, and Yasumasa Kitagawa
Arranged by Skeletroy Blockbuster

Original version:

Momentum
Jackie Chan’s Action Kung Fu, NES, TurboGrafx-16
Hudson Soft/Now Productions, 1990
Composed by Masakatsu Maekawa
Arranged by Skeletroy Blockbuster

Original version:

Go! Getsu Fuma
Getsu Fuuma Den, Famicom
Konami, 1987
Composed by Hidenori Maezawa
Arranged by Skeletroy Blockbuster

Original version:

Best Room
The Ninja Warriors, SNES
Taito/Natsume, 1994
Composed by Hiroyuki Iwatsuki
Arranged by Skeletroy Blockbuster

Original version:

My Lover
Revenge of Shinobi, Genesis
Sega, 1989
Composed by Yuzo Koshiro
Arranged by Skeletroy Blockbuster

Original version:

Thanks for listening! You’re awesome!

Skeletroy’s Song of the Month – Sunsetriders stage 1

“Bury me with my…money.”

Skeletroy’s first video gamed cover album, “The Legend of the Musical Ninja”, is set for release on March 27th! Check back to thatruled.com in a few weeks (8, to be precise) for more info!

 

Skeletroy’s Song of the Month (bonus song) – New Messiah

Song of the Month (bonus) – Castlevania II: Belmont’s Revenge – New Messiah

Thanks for checking out my Song of the Month remixes! I’ll be releasing my first video game cover album, “The Legend of the Musical Ninja”, in January, stay tuned for a lot more great music!

And as always, you can hear the previous songs in this playlist:

Skeletroy’s Song of the Month – King Dedede’s theme

Song of the Month #3 – Kirby Super Star – King Dedede’s theme

Next month I’m going to go with some songs from games with Ninjas! Please leave a comment on whether you’d prefer to hear the stage 1 theme from Ninja Warriors (TG-16), “Chinatown” from Shinobi, or “Lahja’s theme” from Ninja Gaiden 2. 

And if you’ve missed the previous Songs of the Month, you can find them on this playlist! Thanks for listening, I’ll see you in a month!

Skeletroy’s Song of the Month – Metal Gear Solid 2 theme

Song of the Month #2 – Metal Gear Solid 2 theme

Next month, the choices are all from Kirby games! The choices are “Green Greens”, “King Dedede’s theme” or “Gourmet Race”, please vote by leaving a comment!

 

Skeletroy’s Song of the Month – Castlevania – Wicked Child

Song of the Month # 1 – Castlevania – Wicked Child

This is the first song of a (hopefully) long running series of SNES style thrash remixes.

Please vote for next month’s remix by leaving a comment! Would you rather hear a song from Adventure Island II, Zelda II, or Metal Gear Solid 2?

Skeletrios – Mario Platformers

3. Donkey Kong (Game Boy – 1994)

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It may seem odd to say, but the Game Boy version of Donkey Kong is not only a hidden gem among the system’s library, it’s THE title that fuses all the Mario titles together, combining the past, present (circa 1994), and future of the plumber’s exploits. It begins with the original four stages of the Donkey Kong arcade game, but this is far from where it ends. An additional 97 stages follow the original four, making a total of 101. There are nine more worlds, comprising a Big City, a forest, a pirate ship, a jungle, a desert, an airplane, an iceberg, a rocky valley, and a tower. Several stages take elements from Donkey Kong Jr, including climbing ropes/vines, as well as several of the enemies.

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Although this is a Mario game, it’s not a Super Mario game – and by that, I mean that there are no power ups. No mushrooms, no fire flowers, no stars. Super hammers are available, but they’re few and far between. Also, you can’t run by holding the B button. Even with that design choice, Mario has a wider variety of moves than he does in the main series. You can perform a backflip, a handstand, and a triple jump (a la Super Mario 64, which would be released 2 years later). In fact, the only real cue this game takes from the original Super Mario Bros is the ability to swim, and the only cue to Super Mario Bros 3 are platforms that fall when you stand on them too long.

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It instead looks more to Super Mario Bros 2 for inspiration. Each of the normal stages is a puzzle platformer, the goal for each is to find a key and take it to a locked door. It’s almost like every stage is an elaborate Phanto chase, only with a time limit replacing the masked aggressor. Many enemies and items can be stood upon, picked up, and thrown, becoming the basis for many of the obstacles and boss stages. Conveyor belts, spikes, and icy floors all made their debut in SMB2 and also appear here. Many of the stages also incorporate vertical elements, owing both to the influence of SMB2 and using the Game Boy’s screen limitations to the developer’s advantage. Donkey Kong also takes a cue from the Japanese version of Super Mario Bros 2 by using Poison Mushrooms. While they don’t kill you in this game, they shrink you, limiting your jumping and lifting abilities. Was this an inspiration for the Micro Mushroom in New Super Mario Bros on the DS? To summarize, Donkey Kong is not only a revitalized version of the arcade original, it’s an expanded experience that may give you a different perspective on the evolution of the Mario series.

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PS: at the time of this writing, Donkey Kong for Game Boy is $3.99 on the 3DS eShop, and the NES version is $4.99. The NES version is missing one of the four arcade stages.

2. New Super Mario Bros. (Nintendo DS – 2006)

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Hindsight is a funny thing. With the popularity of the New Super Mario Bros. series, it seems odd that Nintendo didn’t make a 2D Super Mario Bros platformer since the release of Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins in 1992, although that claim is debatable, considering the Super Mario Land series transitioned into the Wario Land series with 4 main entries from 1994 to 2001. There was the aforementioned Game Boy Donkey Kong in 1994, which spun off into the six entries in the Mario vs. Donkey Kong series from 2004 to present, which incorporated more puzzle oriented gameplay, but remains a platformer starring Mario nonetheless. There were also 4 main entries in the the Yoshi’s Island games, beginning with Super Mario World 2 in 1995. It really all comes down to how you specifically categorize them. I know people who categorize the Donkey Kong Country series as Mario games due to their shared history and similar gameplay…so yeah, take all that with a grain of salt.

Super_Mario_Land_2_box_art

New Super Mario Bros. worked so well because it was produced with honest intentions. Nintendo wanted to do a simple reboot of what made the classic Super Mario games so great, tweaked and updated for today’s audience. They also got the opportunity to include a few design elements from earlier games that were never implemented due to hardware limitations, like the Mega Mushroom which grows Mario to the height of the entire screen.

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The later entries in the New SMB series are very good as well, but they lack the freshness, simplicity, and charm of the original. New SMB 2 on the 3DS is basically a coin collect-a-thon. New SMB Wii uses waggle controls for spin jumping, which marrs the overall experience as it’s a very inaccurate form of movement for a series known for its perfectly smooth control. Newer power ups like the propeller hat are fun, and the multiplayer aspect leads to some frantic situations, but playing through it felt like Nintendo said “the first one sold so well, let’s just follow that formula and add more elements from Super Mario Bros 3”. Where New SMB felt like a loving nod to the map screens of SMB3 and Super Mario World, the later entries only feel like a rehash of that concept. Don’t get me wrong, it is a minor complaint, but World 2 of every game doesn’t need to be a desert simply because it was in SMB3. World 3 doesn’t need to be the water world, but they’ve basically pigeon holed themeselves by repeating the formula, to the point where it’s also the formula for Super Mario 3D World. You know you’re going to go through the ice world, the jungle, the mountains, a sky/pipe world, and Bowser’s world (which usually doesn’t show the entire map, leading to a false ending which brings extra stages/more worlds).

World2NSMB

There are other places from the Mario universe to base a game on, like Dinosaur Land in SMW or Beanbean Kingdom in Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga. With all that being said, I’d recommend playing all of the New SMB series to find your favorite, they’re all great games and it’s neat to see how they incorporate older items and enemies into newer games. But you can also find the DS game easily and inexpensively, as New SMB is available digitally on the Wii U Virtual Console. 

Intermission 

If you didn’t know me at all, you probably assumed this would have come down to the “holy trinity” of Mario games – Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, and Super Mario 64. As you can see, that was definitely not the case. SMB3 ranks somewhere around 7 or 8, and Mario 64 ranks waaaay lower than that.

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Let’s get this out of the way – SMB3 is great. It fleshed out the Mario universe we know today more than any other entry in the series, and its influence can’t be denied. I just don’t really like the slippery controls. Normal ground in SMB3 feels almost like ice in most other games, and I’m not a huge fan of the ice levels to begin with. But Mario 3 is fantastic, it’s just not one of my favorites (I like SMB2 the best out of the original trilogy).

Super_Mario_64_(NA)

Mario 64 also had a huge impact, not just on Mario’s universe, but on the transition of gaming as a whole from 2D to 3D. I hated it at the time, and only gained respect and found enjoyment from it through the DS remake.

Super_Mario_64_DS-Graphics_comparison

It’s such an ugly, blocky, muddy looking game. I realize that video games were treading new ground at the time, but they completely abandoned an art style on the cusp of mastering it. I was an arcade kid in the 80s and 90s, and saw bigger and better things than home consoles could provide at the time…unless you owned a Neo-Geo, and honestly, no one did.

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Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island was released in mid 1995, and features a gorgeous cartoony, hand drawn art style.

Yoshi's_Island_-_Gameplay

Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars was released in early 1996, and shows a somewhat dated but still artistically beautiful computer generated style. So I was pretty excited thinking about what a Mario game might look like on a more powerful console, and did I ever get the opposite of my expectations.

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Super Mario 64, released three months after SMRPG, looked like a hot mess of blocky polygons when it was released, and only gets worse as time goes on.

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Secondly, a lot of people give Super Mario Bros. 2 a lot of crap these days for not being a “Mario” game…but what makes SM64 a Mario game? Other than the fact that you’re playing as Mario in the Mushroom Kingdom on a quest to save Princess Peach from Bowser, nothing about it is remotely close to anything you’ve ever known from one. If you love it, great. I like it more than Super Mario Sunshine, but less than the two Galaxy games. But to me, the 4 3D Mario games are too different to be considered Mario games, moreso than SMB2, SMW2, or Donkey Kong ever was. 

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1. Super Mario World (SNES – 1991)

Super_Mario_World_Coverart

With the video game industry’s collective decision to only produce 3D games as they were the wave of the future, I took a step to the side. If companies weren’t going to make the games I enjoyed any more, I just had to stick with the collection of great games I already had. And to me, there is no greater game for the SNES than Super Mario World. I played it every week for nearly a decade. Now 24 years later, the graphics still look very crisp and clean.

super-mario-world.3

The music is very fitting, and is an interesting study for composers as almost every song has the same melody, just in different arrangements. The controls in SMW are one of the few games I’d truly describe as flawless. I can still speed run the game in 13 minutes, and recently did a 100% playthrough in preparation for Super Mario Maker.

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At the time, video games didn’t really have “trophies” or “achievements” for doing ridiculous things, so I made my own. I’m sure a lot of people did things like that though. For example, I know I’m not the only person who played through Mega Man X using only the Mega Buster, or played through A Link to the Past with the lowest level Master Sword. Now that I think about it, does anyone else remember those trading cards in the back of Nintendo Power that had challenges like that?

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If Super Mario World got too easy, you could increase the challenge by not getting one or more of the four colored Switch Palaces. It basically allows you to set your own difficulty level out of a potential 16 combinations, and makes things a lot tougher when some of the power ups and platforms aren’t available. That, combined with the other factors mentioned previously, as well as the introduction of Yoshi, makes it a game with virtually infinite replay value, and makes it my favorite Mario platformer of all time.

Block Switch Palace

Skeletroy’s Favorite Commercials

Hey folks, I know it’s been a while since I’ve done any updates, so I figured I should let you know I haven’t gone away. Far from it, to be honest – I’m currently working on a huge animation project, and it may take a long time before I release anything.

This new project started out as a sequel for Adver-tainment, but kept gradually moving away from the “commercials” aspect of it. In light of that, I’d like to share three of my favorite commercials with all of you.

3. War Amps PSA – Astar the robot

So creepy. So scary. So memorable. This ad has been burned in my brain since the 80s, and is one of the big reasons why I wish I was a robot – if my arm came off, I could just put it back on. There was a terrible CG remake of this ad in the late 90s, and it lost most of its bizarre charm in doing so.

2. Sapporo – Legendary Biru

While most commercials are made to simply sell a product, this one was made out of love (and probably a little hate with all the editing). It’s a two minute ascent, from a rocky cavernous base to a sumo tournament to fire breathing dragons, eventually reaching a city skyline at night. It’s punctuated by a wonderfully percussive tune; no dialogue is spoken as none is needed. Over 5 years later and this ad still looks great, and is still a treat to watch.

1. Omega Co-Axial Chronometer

It’s going to take a lot for a new commercial to kick this one from the top spot. This is art. Everything about it lines up to create something incredible. The visuals are breathtaking in their design. The song “Smiling” by Henry Gregson-Williams (best known for his involvement on the Metal Gear Solid soundtacks) fits so well with the video that it tugs on the heart strings. I’ve heard of people who have gone to places like the Vatican or the Sistine Chapel and have been so filled with awe and wonder that they openly weep. This commercial IS my Sistine Chapel. In the words of the narrator, “there are moments so perfect you can hardly believe they were made by humans.” This definitely counts as one of those moments.

The Isometric Perspective – Season 3, Episode 4

04. contra
Skeletroy, Grant, and Grindhead Jim discuss Contra. Also, Skeletroy is giving away a copy of Double Dragon Neon on Steam next episode! For a chance to win, visit The Isometric Perspective’s Facebook page and click “like” on the Double dragon picture.

The Two Pages Podcast – #5 – Two Pages of Leprechauns

Skeletroy, Tom, Maeve La Fey, and Grant have returned to read more funny stories! Also, Skeletroy is looking for some new writers for next month’s episode, “Two Pages of Fools”; please leave a comment if you’d like to be part of the show!

Grant’s story – 6:30
Maeve’s story – 14:55
Tom’s story – 29:50
Skeletroy’s story – 42:22

The Isometric Perspective – Season 3, Episode 2

02. castlevania

Skeletroy, Grant, and Grindhead Jim continue their celebration of the 30th anniversary of the NES by looking at another Konami classic, Castlevania.

The Isometric Perspective’s Facebook group

The Isometric Perspective – Season 3, Episode 1

01. jan 22 - gradius

Skeletroy, Grant, and Grindhead Jim are back after a short break to start a new season and talk again about video games! This year, we’re celebrating the 30th anniversary of the NES by talking about a classic game each episode.

The Isometric Perspective’s Facebook group

Skeletroy’s Ongoing Chronological List of His Favorite 100 NES Games
001. October 1985 – Excitebike
002. November 1986 – 1942
003. December 1986 – Gradius

The Two Pages podcast – #3 – Two Pages of Anything

Skeletroy, Tom, and Debbie are back to read stories, along with newcomer Damon!

Debbie’s story – 2:13
Tom’s story – 12:27
Damon’s story – 26:33
Skeletroy’s story – 29:24

Visit Debbie’s website at talesfromthemists.wordpress.com
Visit Damon’s website at www.tacobeans.com