Video Game Music Continues To Impress On 2016 Classic FM Hall Of Fame

With Easter having just passed for another year, it means that over on Classic FM the annual Hall Of Fame competition, where listeners vote for their top 300 pieces of classical music, has been drawn to a close. For the past five years now, there has been a push to have classically influenced/performed pieces of music from video games represented on the list in a similar way to films, and this year has been another success story; albeit with the focus more on the breadth of games represented rather than hitting the very top of the charts as was the case in 2013 and 2014. I’ve written a result analysis for the past two years, and if you are interested you can find the links to those articles here and here. Continue reading

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Snatching Defeat From The Jaws Of Victory – The History Of Sega Enterprises 1985-2001

A couple of years ago, I had the bright idea to enrol on a Masters degree for Historical Studies at the University Of Lincoln. When it came round to crafting a 20,000 word dissertation that would ultimately decide whether I passed or failed the course, I had an even dafter idea – to write a ‘constructive’ history of Sega; a company whose products I had never purchased as a child growing up with video games. The process was long with weeks and months disappearing in the search of sources and writing the damned thing, but eventually the trials had a happy ending – I passed the course and can say with a sense of pride that becuase of the work I submitted, I have a Masters degree to my name.

I initially wanted to make my dissertation available for anyone to read or use a point of reference as soon as I got the degree, but quite frankly I ended up forgetting all about it for a long time as I started searching for work. Recently I’ve been able to get the document into a PDF format with all of the formatting actually staying in place, so if you want to have a read then it’s yours to browse at will – it is quite a chunky thing at 101 pages and sometimes descends into analytical historical babble, but it should be readable enough. And if you find it interesting, I would reccommend chasing up some of the books and other sources listed at the end; the likes of Kent, Poole and Donovan are very interesting reads for anyone with a interest in gaming history.

P.S I have no issues with the text being used as a reference material, but please do not plagarise any original thoughts or theories that I have put forward

Download the PDF – Snatching Defeat From The Jaws Of Victory – The History Of Sega Enterprises 1985 – 2001

Video Game Soundtracks Enjoy Success On 2015 Classic FM Hall Of Fame

As has become a tradition each Easter weekend, Classic FM have been counting down the Top 300 pieces of classical music as voted for by the public in its annual ‘Hall Of Fame’ – and it has once again provided an excellent opportunity for the campaign to get more recognition for classical and orchestrated video game music to have their voices (and music) heard. With the countdown now at an end (SPOILERS – ‘The Lark Ascending’ was voted into top spot for the second year running), I am delighted to report that video game composers enjoyed another year of success.

With ClassicVGMusic once again doing a sterling job of reporting on the countdown on Twitter, the soundtracks came in thick and fast – 2015 has seen twelve video games represented on the Hall Of Fame (4% of the total entries), setting a new record for the campaign in terms of overall representation. If you want a refresher of last year’s results, then my summary article can be read here.

The Results

Before lavishing praise on those soundtracks which made the list, sadly Austin Wintory’s moving score for Journey was unable to match its debut on the 2014 chart, falling out of the Top 300 completely. I would nominate ‘Apotheosis’ as a superb example of why it should be included on the charts.

  • Halo made its debut on the charts at #244 – now that Marty O’Donnell has left Bungie, one wonders whether Halo 5: Guardians will feature such a memorable score
  • Double Oscar winner Gustavo Santaoalla’s soundtrack for The Last Of Us was also a new debutant at #193. While I adore the soundtrack though, I find the inclusion of The Last Of Us to be the most contentious video game entry on the chart; the music is more designed for atmosphere than for orchestral/symphonic adaptation
  • The music of South Korea’s national sport – StarCraft II, composed by Glen Stafford led a zerg rush to #163
  • Nobuo Uematsu was always going to get on the list (see further below), but in the shape of Blue Dragon he can now claim two entries in the Hall Of Fame – another debutant for 2015 at #118
  • The final debutant was a long overdue entry – the music of The Legend Of Zelda composed by Koji Kondo, slotting into #84 and earning the prestige of being the highest new entry on the chart. There’s still no place for Mario though, so this is the only entry representing Nintendo’s wares

And so what of the returning old guard?

  • Kingdoms Of Amalur: Reckoning, the first of three works from British composer Grant Kirkhope (who therefore maintains his title as the most prolific video game compose in the Hall Of Fame) managed to rise by sixteen spots to claim #59
  • As the only MMORPG to make the chart, World Of Warcraft holds a heavy burden and slipped one place to #53 – still a great showing for Russell Brower et al
  • Kirkhope’s breezy and fun soundtrack for Viva Pinata, which has now been in the last three Hall Of Fame lists, rose 13 spots to #41
  • With a huge leap of 147 places, Kingdom Hearts is #30 on the chart – a brilliant feat also making composer Yoko Shimomura the highest placed female on a chart dominated by the male composers of the past. The recent release of 5 HD REMIX featured re-orchestrated versions of several tracks, no doubt helping to enhance the appeal of the series
  • The big surprise entry of last year, Kirkhope’s soundtrack for Banjo-Kazooie made even bigger waves this year; it made it to #13! The game specifically being recognized was the 2008 release, Nuts & Bolts
  • Having peaked in 5th place in 2013, Jeremy Soule’s superb soundtracks for The Elder Scrolls series dropped a little last year but has regained momentum to earn #11 on the charts. Whereas ‘Dragonborn’ has been used in the past to represent the series, this time the opening theme to The Elder Scrolls Online was played
  • And so finally, as has been the case for the past four years, Uematsu’s scores for Final Fantasy was the highest placed video game soundtrack on the list. While it was unable to match the heady heights of 2013 when it threatened Beethoven to be voted in 3rd spot (and it is unlikely to do so as the vote has become fractured for several different pieces including the mainstay ‘Aerith’s Theme’ and others such as ‘Dancing Mad’ rather than the series as a whole), remaining in the Top Ten at #9 is still a fantastic achievement. And to top it off, they played ‘Zanarkand’…one of my all time favorite pieces of music

2015’s Hall Of Fame was therefore a case of strength in numbers; a trend which I personally hope will continue and allow more soundtracks to be either played and recognized on Classic FM or at least be featured on the 2016 countdown. What did you make of the charts, and what soundtracks do you think would make great ambassadors for video game music? Let me know in the comments below, and a Happy Easter (or what’s left of it) to you all.

E3 2014: Five Predictions For The Event

Predicting what may come to pass each year at the major conferences at E3 is an arcane art, based almost entirely on wild speculation and messages received from magic 8-balls – even still, it doesn’t stop people from at least having a go.

The correct prediction of surprises may be even harder than ever at E3 2014, mainly because so many games have already been announced prior to the show making the conferences almost seem like a forgone conclusion. In any case I’ve listed below five things that I reckon could happen; some of them ambitious, some of them perhaps more ironclad than expected Continue reading

Video Game Soundtracks Represent On The 2014 Classic FM Hall Of Fame

The Classic FM Hall Of Fame 2014 has now finished having broadcast across the Easter holiday here in the United Kingdom; and it’s been another sensational year for the campaign to get more recognition for classical and orchestrated video game music – with a record eight games represented in the list Continue reading

“Twitch Plays Pokemon:” WE BEAT THE GAME!

Good grief…they actually did it!

Objection Network

twitchplayspokemonparty

On Saturday morning at about 2 a.m. Arizona time, Twitch Plays Pokemon managed to overcome Blue’s Blastoise and beat the game!

There was no shortage of drama on the way, some of which we’ve already covered here before (like Zapdos and the Rocket Hideout debacle). But in the end, after 20+ attempts and failures against the Elite Four, the stream prevailed and Red was finally victorious. That’s right — even with tens of thousands of people controlling him all at once, Red is once again more successful than Ash Ketchum.

With 90,000+ people tuning in, a suddenly overpowered Zapdos (and thank god we managed to get him), now past the level 80 mark, crushed Blastoise with a Thundershock to seal the deal.

Here’s a couple highlights from the parts I managed to catch in the last 24 hours:

  • Victory Road was surprisingly decent, especially after grinding a bit…

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Dazcooke’s Video Game Land Review Of 2013

The year of 2013 has been a busy one; between balancing the last year of my extended stay at University and finally entering the daily grind of the working world, time has gone by much quicker than I would have perhaps preferred. It’s important then to take the time for a brief retrospective, not only to supplement the lazy journalism that comes with the end of the year but because when I stop and think back, it has been another banner year for videogames. Continue reading

Dazcooke Reviews…Charlie Brooker: How Videogames Changed The World

I have to rack my brains very hard indeed to remember the last time I saw an enjoyable show on television about videogames, and that’s why I was personally delighted at the news that former games journalist turned comedian Charlie Brooker was to host a documentary, How Videogames Changed The World – if nothing else because it appeared to closely mirror a project of my own looking at the Twenty Games That Changed History. The show was broadcast last night on Channel 4, and I’m here to quickly offer up a few of my views on the documentary as a whole. Continue reading

How Not Buying FIFA 14 Saved My Life…Kind Of

A few days ago, I completed my long belated playthrough of Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic (expect a review soon) and today while I had a free moment at work I found myself musing over which game from my rapidly expanding Steam library I should tackle next. As I considered this, another thought popped into my head; KOTOR is the third game that I’ve completed in the space of just under two months, the other two being The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time and Grand Theft Auto V. Each of these games have required a reasonable investment of anywhere between twelve to forty hours apiece to complete, and initially I couldn’t work out where I had managed to find the time alongside a six day working week. And then in a moment of genius, the answer hit me:

I haven’t bought FIFA this year.

Continue reading

Dazcooke Presents…A Day At The Eurogamer Expo 2013

Last Friday, I popped down to London with a few mates to attend my first video gaming exposition; the Eurogamer Expo, held inside Earl’s Court. After humble beginnings in the Docklands just six years ago, the Eurogamer Expo has grown to become one of the most important dates on the British gaming calendar – and this year was all the more significant as the public got their first hands-on experience with the new consoles from Sony and Microsoft, the PS4 and Xbox One.

(Apologies in advance for some shoddily amateur photos – my camera is quite old now!) Continue reading