Content about Music


If there’s one thing I take pride in, it’s my music collection. Over 1600 songs on the iPod, and that doesn’t even include the large amount of playlists I’ve generated on Spotify. So any game that makes use of the music library stored on your computer, much like my beloved Audiosurf, is doing something right. And much like Audiosurf, Symphony combines stunning visuals, addictive gameplay, and the music you love into an all-around fantastic game.


The Electronic Entertainment Expo showcased a lot of great games a couple of weeks ago.  Some we knew about for months now, and are highly anticipating for a fall/winter/2013 release.  Others, however, managed to sneak up on us, coming out of nowhere and surprising us with a great deal of inventiveness.  Among them was a new creation from Zen Studios, the team behind the Zen Pinball and Pinball FX 2 games.  And no, it’s not a pinball game.  Get this – it’s a musical kung fu action game.  Take that, The Last Dragon!


Early this year, Bioware’s Mass Effect saga came to five year run. Rest aside the ending; the series is one of the most complete trilogies in video game history. There are two aspects that Mass Effect nails perfectly. The series was first to interweave choices all the way through the third and final installment captivating fans from start to finish. However, you can’t tell a great story if you forget to create the atmosphere for your game to breath in. The music in the game really doses shape Commander Shepard with it having one of the best scores in gaming, but do people notice? Do people look at soundtracks as a whole or as background noise?


Jesper Kyd has been working his music composing magic in a number of projects over the years.  Fans will immediately recognize his work from the Assassin's Creed series, as well as entries in the Hitman series and the original Borderlands.  But now he's stepping his game up with Death, producing an epic new soundtrack for Darksiders II, which releases this August.  We had a chance to chat with him about the upcoming game, as well as what else he's working on.


Dylan Cuthbert and his team over at Q Games aren’t known for making routine downloadable game experiences.  Each one they’ve produced stands out in their own right, like the twin-stick shooting fun of PixelJunk Shooter 1 and 2, the sheer addiction of PixelJunk Monsters, or the crazy old-school-ness (that is a word) of PixelJunk Sidescroller.  But even with such an offbeat resume, there’s no way you could see something like PixelJunk 4am coming.  It’s as funky a game experience as you’re likely to find this year, if not really about being a game itself.


Retro/Grade has quite the story behind it.  This downloadable game for PlayStation Network has been in the works for some time, introducing a new style of music/rhythm gameplay that ties in with a space shooter -- in a way.  We've seen it at a number of events, including last year's PAX Prime in Seattle, but upon seeing it at this year's PAX East 2012 event, we were treated with some good news.  The game is finally coming out later this year, as part of Sony's push to bring innovative new downloadable experiences to the PlayStation 3.


It seemed, at a glance, that Harmonix had done everything it possibly could with the Rock Band franchise.  There's been a trio of sequels that have introduced various instruments and new ways to play; thousands of songs released via DLC; and even band-specific games for Green Day and AC/DC, as well as a Lego spin-off. So what's left?  How about a new way to play?


For the longest time, Square Enix’s role-playing games have followed a usual tradition, a pre-set game pattern involving an intricate battle system or characters that could easily be adapted to, depending on their techniques and weaponry.  While fans can certainly appreciate such an approach, others can be turned off by it, merely due to the monotony.  But the company is listening, and ready to provide something a little different this summer with Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy.


With Harmonix shying away from the troublesome MTV Networks and essentially becoming its own entity, it was free to do whatever it pleased.  And with that, it continued to support Rock Band 3, its latest rock machine, with a number of great new songs, including offerings from Rick Astley, Huey Lewis and the News and, recently, Shinedown and Evanescence.  But who knew that it would also be feeding a different rock monster than the one it’s already created?  Silly us.


Q-Games has always been a developer that’s been just as much about style as it has substance with its games.  Take a look at the PixelJunk Shooter games, or, for that matter, the gorgeous PixelJunk Eden or the entertaining (if slightly difficult) PixelJunk SideScroller.  However, its latest effort, PixelJunk 4AM, might be its most innovative to date.  The reason for that is, instead of giving you pre-set objectives, it instead lets you play around with a musical space, shaping it however you see fit using the PlayStation Move controller.


If something’s good enough, you know someone will bring it back in one form or another.  For Sega, this is a common business practice, as it’s been bringing back several of its old-school franchise to the current game scene, in an effort to generate newfound success.  This includes a number of resurrected Dreamcast classics, along with the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise and Virtua Fighter, which will come back this summer with Final Showdown on Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network.  Now another big game is coming back, and Professor K fans will want to listen up…


Following his unexpected death, Ubisoft has been looking to tribute Michael Jackson with its line-up of dance games.  And while they’ve been popular in certain circles, not everyone could get into Michael Jackson: The Experience, despite the cavalcade of songs from the King of Pop’s collection.  Maybe it was just trying to even come close to mimicking the guy that was the challenge.  The PlayStation Vita version, launching with the system this week, takes a different approach, but its limitations end up working against it.


Rhythm music games continue to be a hot commodity these days.  How else can you explain the gangbuster sales of Just Dance 3 and the ongoing interest in the Dance Central 2 game library?  Over on the Wii, though, there’s only so much you can groove along to before you realize you’re doing the same thing over and over with a Wii remote.  Fortunately, Rhythm Heaven Fever, an adaptation of a previously released Nintendo DS game, takes a break from this norm.


Every Tuesday, Sony brings its PlayStation faithful new content, add-ons for your favorite games, Themes and avatars for your PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable. Again another standard week of PSN goods you can get, but for the most part the main draw are going to be demos. Twisted Metal is finally going to hit store shelves and the fans of  the series will be eager to get their hands on the multiplayer demo now available.  


Even though he sadly passed away a few years ago, the legend of Michael Jackson will never be forgotten.  The pop star brought us a number of classics over the years, and last year, Ubisoft opted to celebrate his legacy with the new game Michael Jackson: The Experience.  Now, he makes the journey to the PlayStation Vita in time for the system's launch next month.  But can the game still be a Thriller?


Ever since it was released in 2005, Lumines has remained one of Q Entertainment's popular games.  A puzzle/strategy game that combines addictive gameplay with a refreshing presentation (involving some rather creative musical choices), Lumines has gone on to success on a number of platforms, including as a downloadable game through Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network, and on the mobile front.  Now the series is making a return in its biggest game to date, scheduled to arrive next month as part of the PlayStation Vita's launch line-up.


The bitter break-up between Rock Band developer Harmonix and the game's publishing arm at Viacom has been a messy one.  Following the somewhat expensive development of The Beatles Rock Band (due to licensing) and the release of Rock Band 3, Viacom unceremoniously dumped the developer, who purchased themselves back for $50.  Ever since, the companies have been battling back and forth over payments due over the series' release and royalties.  But it looks like the final decision could be leaning in Harmonix's favor...


RedOctane created quite a rock monster when it first debuted Guitar Hero for the PlayStation 2 a few years ago.  It's since become a hugely popular property for Activision, through the release of successful sequels and various downloadable content packs.  But amidst some sagging sales and legal problems, the company has temporarily shelved the series following the somewhat disappointing Warriors of Rock.  However, it looks like the Hero may be taking the stage again very soon.


The development team at Cave have found an awesome new venue for its quirky game library -- Apple devices.  It's released a handful of shooter and action games thus far, including Deathsmiles, Dodonpachi Resurrection and Espgaluda 2, and for a price that wouldn't cost you an arm and a leg to boot (unlike the region free Xbox 360 games).  Those shooters have created a new market for the team, so they're still pumping out games for it.  This week, another "shmup" joins the pack, Mushihimesama -- also known as the easier-to-pronounce Bug Princess.



It’s something that happens in the industry every once in a while, even though it shouldn’t.  Someone checks out a game with the wrong frame in mind, not realizing what the point really was.  I admit, I actually did that with Zumba Fitness 2, considering it more for its fitness aspect than its dancing one.  And maybe I was a little harsh in that regard, so I decided to give it a second look with a fresh perspective to see if there was something I missed.  And indeed, there was.  But that doesn’t necessarily mean everything is quite perfect...though some folks probably won't mind.


A lot of controversy has surrounded Harmonix and Rock Band 3 since its release last year, particularly with MTV Games dropping the developer and then turning around and suing shareholders for taking too many cash awards from its success.  But that hasn't stopped millions of gamers from rocking out to its selections, as well as its downloadable content, which continues on a weekly basis to this day.  But now MadCatz is looking to do a little banking of its own, as it's repackaging the game just in time for this season's holiday rush.