Revengineers 8static EP Review

 

The Revengineers are without a doubt my favorite chiptune-influenced group. They’re about the only post-rock chiptune blending group I’ve heard and their earnest emotional songs really hit hard. Besides that, they have some amazing drumming and guitar playing and avoid all the meandering, pointless doodling sections that make you forget which post-rock group you were listening to.

 

Their new two-track ep is hopefully a teaser for what will be a whole album following in the tracks of their epic self-titled ep. The new tracks don’t stray far from the wonderful formula of NES leads backed by powerful guitars and drums and synths. It seems like there’s a bit more synth action this time around and the overall recording quality is crystal-clear and slightly above that of the self-titled ep.

 

I highly suggest picking up both albums today and making a sizeable bandcamp donation to keep this amazing band going strong!

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The Best Adventure SCUMM Games to Emulate

The atmosphere of some of the 90's adventure games is truly amazing.

The atmosphere of some of the 90’s LucasArt’s adventure games is truly amazing.

Something the early video games only flirted with was a really immersive atmosphere. Metroid’s ambience only hinted at what could be done with graphics and sound in the future.

For me, SCUMM or point and click adventure games were the first games to make me feel completely absorbed in another world. It was here that the PC first started to outperform the consoles in graphic and sound capability and the combination of classic text games and modern graphics and sound created a memorable sense of escapism. It’s the first time I encountered professional voice acting In a game too, something we take for granted today.

For a few years now, There has been a great SCUMM emulator available to let you relive some of these excellent masterpieces from the early 90s, here’s a list of ones worth checking out.

LucasArts was primarily responsible for many of these games. There are WAY more than these four but these are the ones that resonated most with me. Feel free to add your own to the comments.

The Dig (PC)

With cartoon cutscenes and well known actors like Robert Patrick, The Dig set the cinematic bar to a new high.

With cartoon cutscenes and well known actors like Robert Patrick, The Dig set the cinematic bar to a new high.

As one of the first games to feature real actors voicing characters and a soundtrack by the legendary John Williams, Lucasarts The Dig set the bar very high. Robert Patrick (from numerous sci-fi and action films of the 80’s and 90’s) voices the main character and the hand-drawn backgrounds really draw you into the amazing alien world that the three astronauts find themselves on.

Exploring the abandoned alien world light years from earth is one of the most memorable experiences from my childhood. The game’s sense of isolation is incredible. It’s also a fairly relaxing game. The puzzles stump you but you can’t die. It’s a game you can play while drinking a coffee with your feet up on the table.

Kings Quest (PC and NES)

Here's the upgraded VGA version.

Here’s the upgraded VGA version.

The kings quest series is one of the most prolific in the early adventure game genre. Lots of the content had to do with finding the right items and using them in the right places. This is one of the earliest games I can remember that had things in the “foreground” to create a bit of 3d In a limited way.

Maniac mansion (PC and NES)

04 Rusted Shut

When the aliens took over the mansion, they didn’t know about the ill-thought-out human custom of hiding a key under the doormat.

Probably one of the strangest games ever made, maniac mansion is a sort of b-movie camp sci-fi affair about a sentient meteor controlling a local scientist in his mansion. Only a group of teenagers seems to be awAre that something is amiss in the neighborhood and has to rescue their friend from the mansion.

This is one of the earliest games I can think of that had multiple endings, various solutions to problems and fairly non-linear gameplay. I literally had entire sections of the game bypassed simply by using another character who found himself in new situations. It must have been a nightmare to plan all possible scenarios and combinations of teens and abilities. It’s said you can finish the game with any combination of the teens. This game even spawned a short lived TV show.

Nightshade (NES)

Nightshades dark film noir graphics stand in stark contrast to the games humorous delivery.

Nightshades dark film noir graphics stand in stark contrast to the games humorous delivery.

Nightshade came out a few years too late for it’s own good. This genre crossing game is mostly a SCUMM but occasionally you have to fight bad guys in a side view ninja-gaiden style mini-level. The film noir atmosphere juxtaposed with cheesy humor is great. I just love the opening, nightshade strikes a
Dramatic pose and speaks about how he’s going to right the wrongs in metro city..then the game cuts to a few hours later..he’s already tied up and captured in the bad guys fortress, off to a great start, there .it’s also cool that instead of a simple game over/continue system, when you are defeated you Are put in a bond-villainesque death trap that is easily escapable. Get out, and the game goes on!

You can of course emulate the Nes games a variety of ways, look here for help. And you can get the DOS SCUMM emulator here.

The Most Baffling Video Game Songs of All Time

Designing a video game requires hundreds of tiny creative and technical decisions that all amount to a finished product. You might think music was a no-brainer in the early days, with limited sound chips and minimal memory, but from the beginning their have been some totally baffling video game songs that make you wonder what the developer or composer were thinking. Here’s a few of those confusing moments that you may or may not have heard before. You might be surprised at how enjoyable some of these pieces are, they just don’t fit in their respective games.

Metroid – Norfair

Metroid has one of the best NES soundtracks out there. It’s memorable, heroic and creepy in all the right places..except for this one. Don’t get me wrong, I think this is a lovely piece of music. In fact I listen to it regularly, but after all this time and so many listens, I have no idea how this song makes me feel! Is it supposed to be scary? Relaxing? I find it rather relaxing until those weird unsettling pauses occur. It sort of makes me picture a lifeless puppet dangling in the wind. Wierdly, it reminds me of a 90’s math-rock/emo band called Ethel Meserve.

Metroid II: Return of Samus – Ancient Chozo Ruins

I love the surface music in RoS but this song is like the theme song for a dopey, indecisive super hero..it’s like the perfect musical expression of an awkward moment that goes on too long, oh but then gets really dangerous and intense…someone wrote on youtube that it’s like something stalking you…I sorta get that, but not the first part of it, which just sounds like a game over jingle. Someone else wrote “This is simultaneously the best and worst song in Gameboy history.” That’s what I mean but baffling!

Magmax – Stage Theme Subterrain

I can barely even write a comment on this one. Here’s the weird part: It sounds kind of good when you slow it down by about 50%. I’m wondering if somebody accidently bumped the tempo up when compiling the code and sent this song into overdrive.

Donkey Kong Country – Jungle Groove

DKC has some of my favorite music for the SNES. Super catchy and appropriate for every level. Jungle Groove is two really great songs in one. The problem is the way they’re juxtaposed together in such a weird way. Could they not decide if they wanted the game to start off somber and epic or silly and fun? Either one would have been great, but why slam them together like this?

Harvest Moon – Town Music

Harvest Moon on the SNES has great music and the town theme is really nice. For such a high quality game, you have to wonder why there seem to be a couple of off notes about 43 seconds into the song. Maybe they were going for a bluesy chord, but it just sounds like someone fat-fingered their keyboard.

Treasure Master – Worlds 3 & 5

Treasure master actually has really good music. And what happens in this song is probably a great showcase of just how powerful the NES sound chip is. But why crossfade in the middle of a song into a completely unrelated song. Just to show that you can make a crossfade on the NES? This is not a cross-faded video, it actually does that on the NES.

EarthBound – The Place (and others)

Testing…is this synth on? Seriously, this sounds like a keyboard sound check. Earthbound has tons of awesome music and probably more songs than any other SNES game out there. But, I guess the composers started to get a little lazy on a few of the songs after making so many killer tunes. The Place, The Cliff that Time Forgot and Mu Training are two others that are so quiet and sparse that they creep you out.

Klonoa 2 – Mad Biscarsh

This plays during a chase scene in the game where a big robot chases you. This is not a bad song, but it is, to my knowledge, the only video game song I’ve ever heard that seems to be trying to imitate the hardcore genre. I keep expecting a hoarse screamed vocals about overthrowing the government to start bust into this track. Judging by the comments on the video, I was not the only one traumatized by this intensity level!