Monthly Archives: December 2011

Merry Christmas

It’s that time of year again. When the cupboards are full of mince pies, the shops are full of people hunting for that perfect last-minute present, and us gamers are sat here wondering what joys await us in those video game-shaped presents that are currently sitting under the Christmas tree. It is also, if all the Christmas cards I’ve sent out are to be believed, a time when our gardens should be covered in snow. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case and with nothing but rain promised for the rest of December, any hopes of a white Christmas in Warwickshire seem a lost cause. It’s a shame, but there’s no room for negativity in the holiday season. Positivity is key. Maybe next year we’ll get our White Christmas! But the reason for this post wasn’t to talk about mince pies (although they’re delicious) or the weather, so let’s move on to that now.

Firstly, I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I feel that over the past two months my blog has started to become more like I had imagined it would when I first started it back in July, with posts being added on a fairly regular basis. Writing has become one of my main hobbies over the past few months, so I’m confident that as the New Year rolls by I’ll be able to meet the writing goal I’ve set myself for 2012 of publishing 2-3 posts most weeks. There will, of course, be times when I’m unable to post as regularly as I’d like, but I can promise that there will be no 3 month long disappearing tricks in the coming year.

Before 2011 gracefully bows out I have two more posts planned: The first is the next edition of Musical Monday; the other is a look forward to 2012, where I’ll be going into depth about my targets and goals for the upcoming year. I have quite high hopes for the coming year, so I feel this post will be particularly interesting.

For now though, there’s mince pies to be eaten and roast turkey to look forward to, so thank you as always for stopping by. Merry Christmas and Happy Gaming, from Madhatters13 and his secret alter-ego FormulaMagician!

Musical Monday II

Mondays are depressing, there’s no denying that. But they don’t need to be, because another video game soundtrack visits The Formula Magician to help lift the mood and wash away the stress.

This week’s edition brings the clocks forward to early 2009, when a game known as Persona 4 landed on our shores. Before reading its review on Game Central I had never heard of Persona, or its parent series Shin Megami Tensei before. Over the years I have come to be very trusting of Game Central and it’s reviews, so when I saw that it had received — if memory serves me well — a nine, I knew it was a game I had to keep an eye on.

In the weeks following this review readers of GC were writing in to sing the praises of Persona 4 after purchasing it on their recommendation. I started to feel like someone stood looking into a room full of people laughing and joking. What exactly am I missing out on here? There was nothing to do but hit the internet and get myself a copy.

Fast forward a few days and a familiar sound comes from downstairs. Why, it’s the sound of a game crashing through the letterbox, so like my cat when he hears biscuits pouring into his bowl I was downstairs in a flash to collect the game that had occupied my thoughts since the moment I ordered it.

Before placing the disc into my PS2, I stopped to think for a moment. This was the moment when, if asked if I’d played a turn-based RPG before, I could give a better answer than “Well, I helped my sister raise her Blastoise to level 100 on Pokémon Leaf Green.” Considering all the highly regarded turn-based RPGs out there, this answer never seemed to be received too well.

There were two key factors in ensuring that this soundtrack was going to become one of my favourite of all time. The first was the intro music, which was so upbeat that I couldn’t help but love it. This game had me hooked before I’d even gotten to the main menu! Every time I play Persona 4 I will always watch the opening cut scene, and I often find myself cranking up the volume too (it’s not known whether my neighbours appreciate the free sample of the soundtrack). The other key reason was that every copy came with a soundtrack CD, something which is often reserved for special editions, sold separately or just never makes it into existence. In the following days I wasted little time in putting the soundtrack on just about everything capable of playing music that I could lay my hands on: my iPod, PC, PSP and a few weeks later, my PS3 (it might be incompatible with PS2 games, but Sony weren’t stopping me from listening to the soundtrack on it). It’s a real shame that more games don’t come with soundtrack CDs, because as I’m sure you can guess, I’d certainly appreciate it.

With next Monday being Boxing Day I have something a little different planned to mark the occasion, but I think I’ll step aside now and let you enjoy some of Persona 4’s music.

[Video credits: Uploaded by Zaramie and Slayer0]

Musical Monday

A question posed itself on one of the websites I frequent a few days ago: do you enjoy listening to video game soundtracks?

Ever since a fairly young age I have appreciated how much a good soundtrack can add to a gaming experience and, conversely, how much a not-so-good soundtrack can take away from said experience. In the past few years I’ve also come to realise how much more enjoyable some of life’s more mundane tasks become when listening to some of my favourite game’s music. Why, even now I’m listening to one of my favourite game’s soundtracks — not to say blogging is mundane, because it certainly isn’t, but to state how habitual it has become for me.

Because I have such a fondness for game music, I thought this idea of a series about my favourite soundtracks would be a nice addition to my blog. So each Monday from today I will be picking a game and posting about the songs that have a special place in my memory.

After spending a while over the weekend thinking about which game should have the honour of going first, I figured where better to start than with the game where it all began as a game-loving 10-year-old: Metal Gear Solid. Before playing this game I would often turn off any background music, but the very first song that played in Metal Gear would guarantee that I would never be doing it with this game. Known as ‘The Best is Yet to Come’ it first plays as Snake makes his entrance into the Shadow Moses base. I’d never heard anything like it before, and it  managed to reach out and grab me almost effortlessly.

The second time this song made an appearance it had an even more powerful effect on me. In the later stages of the game you meet Sniper Wolf for an ultimately final confrontation. After the dust of battle has settled this song plays once again as Snake speaks to Sniper Wolf before she succumbs to her mortal injuries. I can’t remember what they say, but I know it was depressing. How do I know this you ask? Well, because it was the first time the events of a game had brought me to tears. Every playthrough after that I skipped this particular cut scenes whilst wishing there was a way to progress without having to end Sniper Wolf’s life. Have I cried because of a game since then? Well my good readers, that’s a secret!

There are many other great songs in the soundtrack, but this next song deserved a mention for being the only song I’ve ever played through almost an entire game just to listen to — a title it is almost certain to keep thanks to YouTube. It is of course ‘Rex’s Lair’:

After making your way through a room which honestly has more CCTV cameras than even an extreme case of paranoia could explain you find yourself at the end of a short corridor, which opens out onto a cavernous warehouse. This music plays, and you find yourself standing head-to-toe with Metal Gear Rex itself. It does a brilliant job of reinforcing how powerful Metal Gear is and how hopeless the situation Snake finds himself seems.

Now it’s over to you guys. Do you find yourself listening to game soundtracks when you’re not gaming? What are you favourites? Please share them in the comments, and as always, thanks for reading.

[Video credits: Uploaded by alvaroduck]

Buying The ‘Other’ Console – A Quick Observation

Over the weekend one of the YouTube gaming commentators I am subscribed to, who up until now had been gaming solely on a PS3, uploaded a short video telling their subscribers that they’ve just bought an Xbox 360. After making this announcement they went on to say something that I just wanted to talk about quickly. This statement was: “Don’t worry guys, I’m still playing on my PS3. In fact, I was playing Call of Duty on my PS3 just before uploading this video”. While I can understand why they made comments like this — anyone who has an interest in gaming knows just how easily arguments can be sparked — I found it saddening that they felt they had to defend the decision to buy one of their first console’s ‘rivals’ to fellow internet users.

After watching this video, I started thinking about how unlikely it would be to hear someone talk about similar situations in a manner like this:

“Hey, I just bought a new Vauxhall!”

“Awesome, let’s go for a ride.”

“Sure. Don’t worry though, I still love my Ford. Why, just yesterday I took it to the car wash for a hot wax polish.”

“Umm… okay… nice.”

I, for one, would love to be around when that conversation took place.