Let’s talk about the Dark Souls 2 trailer.

In a huge surprise at last night’s 10th annual Spike Video game Awards, it was revealed that Dark Souls 2  is on the horizon. The announcement came by way of CGI trailer giving a VERY brief glimpse at the world and scenario of the next Dark Souls.  

Let’s take a look at some of the elements of the announcement trailer*:

  • The sole line of dialogue is spoken by a disembodied narrator. He says, “You are of the undead. Forever without hope. Forever without light.” From that, it’s fairly obvious the basic idea of the previous game remains, meaning we’ll be taking control of another deceased Knight, presumably on some quest to save the realm and/or prevent going hollow.
  • The Knight seems fairly distraught (he must not have played the original Dark Souls). It certainly conveys a sense of gloom and despair, which is exactly what I want from a Souls game. But it also makes me wonder if the player-character will have more emotional depth this time around…
  • The Knight is seen interacting with a cloaked female character atop a cliff, over looking an ominous castle. She hands him a feather, and the entire interaction seems rather weighty and emotional. Perhaps the story of Dark Souls 2 will be a deeper and more personal tale of woe and misery?
  • Forests, dungeons, snowy mountain tops, and bursting volcanoes all make an appearance. They all have a slightly different look and feel to them than the original Dark Souls, leading me to believe this may take place in another part of the Dark Souls world besides Lordran. There’s a more ancient and primal feel to some of the areas shown in the trailer, but it’s probably just due to the pre-rendered nature of the video. The in-game environments may be entirely different.

Dark-Souls-2-Dragon

  • There are strange, masked assassins/warriors. Their masks are peculiar — all white with a tear drop dripping from one eye. The rest of their garb looks like dark crimson, and they all attack (and kill) the Knight. I’m very interested in who these mysterious attackers are, and what story implications they will present.
  • There’s also a one-eyed dragon which seems to keep cropping up, until the Knight finally faces off against the beast in the final moment of the trailer… wherein he is of course incinerated by the monster’s flames. Dark Souls had plenty of deadly enemies and bosses, but the sinister permanence of both the dragon and the masked assassins makes me wonder yet again if there will be a more present narrative in Dark Souls than what was found in Dark Souls.
  • That enormous, ominous castle seems to be some sort of goal for the Knight, and seems to be strongly hinted at being a bad place to hang out around.
  • Finally, the Knight (who, I should point out is not wearing any armor or using any weapons found in the previous game) dies a few times in the trailer; not surprising at all, really. But what is surprising is a lack of bonfires shown in the trailer. You’d assume that what may be the single most iconic element of Dark Souls would make an appearance here. It may be nothing, and they may have done it to avoid giving anything away during the announcement trailer, but it could also mean bonfires may not be present in Dark Souls II. Perhaps that feather has something to do with it…

Anyway, yeah; Dark Soul II! As previously mentioned, the game will be coming the PC/360/PS3 (hopefully meaning better PC optimization) but no clear release date is known. My guess? Fall 2013. There’s a pretty sweet article up on Forbes with some great quotes from FromSoftware’s development team and lead designers. Suffice it to say, they aren’t pulling any punches with the gameplay. I gotta say though, as much as I’m excited to get a new Souls adventure, can you imagine if that was gameplay being shown? I almost wish the game was a next-gen title to accompany the new consoles, because I would love for the next Dark Souls to look like that. But hey, beggars can’t be choosers, amirite?

I’m gonna go watch the trailer again.

*I cannot find the trailer in full HD; when I do, this post will be updated. 

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Dark Souls 2 Announced at Spike’s VGAs; consoles confirmed

Dark-Souls-2

The title says it all: the brutal, punishing, supremely rewarding gameplay of Dark Souls will be returning for in sequel some time in the near future. When? No clue. On what systems? Again, no clue, but it doesn’t matter; whichever systems I need to own in order to play this game, I’ll buy them. UPDATE: Apparently, despite the seemingly imminent precipice of next-gen consoles, Dark Souls 2 will in fact be a PS3/Xbox 360 title, which is good news in my opinion.* Introduced by the always charming Jessica Alba, the VGA’s have once again proven to be a bastion of game announcements, this time unveiling the sequel to one of my favorite games of all time.

Of course, this is just the beginning and more details are sure to begin trickling out soon. But for now, let’s all rejoice that the pain and torment are returning. I’m so fucking excited to die again.

Once more details appear and the VGA trailer hit the webs, I’ll be sure to post.So of course, stay tuned to Power Cords or follow me on Twitter @homelessviking for more thoughts on the next Dark Souls adventure.

Read more about the reveal here.

Gaming Journal; Oct. 26, 2012

Defeated.

I beat Dark Souls.

It was a quick, surprisingly easy battle with Gwyn, Lord of Cinder. Myself and the ever-helpful WanderingMoogle, a fellow player who helped me out on more than one occasion. Thanks to you sir or madam (whomever you are).

But yeah, the battle was quick, easy, and the ending was appropriately brief. I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again: Dark Souls is a phenomenal game, and a great hardcore RPG experience. It’s not for everyone. but damn is it good. I’d say it’s tied with Skyrim as my favorite game of this generation (and that’s against games like Mass Effect 2, Rayman: Legends,  Metroid Prime 3, and Halo: Reach, just to name a few). I also completed the Artorias of the Abyss DLC. Took me  a few hours, but seeing as how it was the very last thing I did before Gwyn, it wasn’t too difficult to complete. The bosses were cool, and I liked the new areas pretty well, but if you decide to skip out on the content for now you’re not missing much. There are some cool secrets and plot lines, but it’s all pretty isolated and doesn’t pertain too much to the story other than giving some background by making you play through (and cause) events mentioned in the main story.

Obviously, after the game was over I immediately began NG+ as was astounded at the fact I completed in 45 minutes what it took me a few days to complete on my first character. Anyway, I’ll probably get a but further in NG+ then put Dark Souls down for a bit… but I’ll be back soon enough.

Need more of this in my life…

Other than Dark Souls I cranked out more Doom 3: BFG Edition and got some hands-on time with Odin Sphere. I’m enjoying both, but seeing as how both Hawken AND Mechwarrior Online begin their closed betas this weekend and Halo 4 is just a couple weeks away, I probably won’t get too much time with them for a few weeks. Neither game has really hooked me either, and to top it off have been hearing the siren call of Bethesda’s RPGs after the impressions for The Elder Scrolls: Online hit. I’m glad to hear that they’re changing up the combat; mostly that it won’t be standard MMO cooldowns, but more of a focused version of Skyrim’s combat. But more importantly, I’m very pleased to hear that players can, in fact, explore the world without too much restriction.

I could use a new RPG; Dark Souls is complete, and I have yet to get my hands on The Dark Spire, so maybe it’s time to return to Skyrim… or Cyrodiil… or Morrowind… or The Wasteland…

And let’s not forget: it’s Halloween next week. That means I’m gonna be playing a lot of Castlevania.

Games Played This Week: Dark Souls; Doom 3: BFG Edition; Odin Sphere

Games Completed

October 2012: 
  • Dark Souls [and Artorias of the Abyss DLC]

So yeah, that was my week. What did you guys play?

 

The LOW-DOWN, Oct. 22, 2012

Brendan and myself are both back this week for the Low-Down. I don’t want this to sound like a big deal or anything but I kind of invent a new awesome word. You’re welcome. Check it out below!

Gaming Journal: October 19, 2012

Gaming Journal: Oct. 19, 2012

Hey guys. So in an effort to give myself something else to post about, I’m going to start keeping a weekly gaming journal. At this point, I’m gonna aim for Fridays, same day as Shootin’ runs as well. I’m figuring I’ll have updates to make in between each regular Friday post when something important happens or a complete a game, etc. I’m going to keep a tally for the game’s I played that week, and how many games I’ve completed each month. I’ve got a pretty long list of games to get through, most of which are rather lengthy, so there will be plenty of content each week. Any way, without further ado, here’s what I played this week.

Games played this week: Dark Souls; Legend of Grim Rock; Dungeons of Dredmor; Doom 3: BFG

Leeeeorrooy!

I made some good progress in Dark Souls this week. Took out Nito and Seath the Scaleless, as well as went back and downed the Stray Demon. Currently making my way through the New Londo Ruins to take down the Four Kings. I’ve found these past few bosses to be relatively easy, especially post-Ornstein/Smough. It might just be because my character’s build is getting solid and I’ve got a wide range of armor and rings for pretty much any occasion, but I’m not struggling against the bosses and in fact, I can’t recall many who gave me any real trouble besides the Capra Demon, Ornstein and Smough, and my early attempts against Sif. At any rate, I’m stoked I’m nearing the end of this bad boy after taking several months off. I’ll keep you updated as I near to the close.

For those who are interested, I’m rolling a Pyromancer, currently using Leeroy’s Paladin armor set but swapping for the Black Iron gloves and helm; Havel’s Ring and Ring of Steel Protection; Zweihander +7 and Knight Sheild +7.

 

Dungeons of Dredmor

Besides Dark Souls, I also got in some RPG goodness with Legend of Grimrock and Dungeons of Dredmor. Like Dark Souls, I took some time off from Grimrock after playing it quite a bit earlier this year, but I was able to pick up right where I left off and cleared a couple more floors this week (now on level 9). Dredmor is just a fun diversion. I have no idea if there’s an end-game, and even if there is, I die so often (and play so casually) I’ll probably never see it.


The other big game I played this week was DOOM 3: BFG Edition. I’m a Doom 3 fan (some might say apologist, but I say there’s nothing to be sorry for), being the first game I ever upgraded my PC for and I was happy to see it plays just the same it is did years ago. Sure, it’s just monster closet after monster closet, but dammit IT’S FUN! I got in about an hour and a half with Doom 3, but seeing as how the collection includes the entire DOOM trilogy, I have plenty of demon blasting in my future. Will I complete all three games? I’m not entirely sure. But I plan on at least seeing Doom 3 and the Ressurection of Evil expansion through to completion.

Just as a quick reference, here’s my list of games I plan on playing through; some are games I’ve played through before and want to go back to, others I haven’t completed, and other still are future games I plan on playing once they’re released. More will be added, and I’ll keep a running tally as I complete them. In no particular order:

Dark Souls
Legend of Grimrock
Doom 3: BFG
Halo 4
Hawken
MechWarrior Online
Dishonored
Far Cry 3
The Banner Saga
Ultima Forever
The Dark Spire
Morrowind
Fallout 3
Planescape: Torment
Skyrim
Artorias Abyss DLC
Muramasa: The Demon Blade
Odin Sphere
Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia

Okay, that’s it for me this week, but I want to know you you guys are playing too! Post a comment, let’s get a discussion going!

The return of the old-school RPG

Oh hey look — Brendan’s talking about RPG’s again. I can’t help it, there’s just too much to be excited about these day. Thanks to things like free 2 play, indie development, and Kickstarter, the gaming industry has seen an influx of fresh, creative minds as well as the return of legendary game creators, able to finally create the worlds they’ve been wanting to for years, but that have been pushed aside in favor of the cash-cow, AAA first person shooters and action games we’ve been buried under for the past couple console generations.

Look I know: RPG’s have been around for ages and have evolved with the times to remain relevant while still providing the types of experiences people have come to expect from the genre…

…err, sort of. I’m a huge fan of the Mass Effect series — arguably the biggest RPG franchise of the current console generation — but it’s not really an RPG. It’s a great, great series — truly — but compared to even some of its contemporaries it’s not much of an RPG. It’s also not the only series shifting away from role playing game’s origins.

While I’m not a big fan of JRPG’s, I can’t deny that the Final Fantasy XIII series (that sounds weird) has been a major departure not only from the roots of past FF games, but from JRPGs in general. And I recently vented my frustration with Blizzard, but it’s worth noting that Diablo III, despite remaining true to much of what’s great about the Diablo series, is missing that “RPG” quality. When I say “RPG’s are coming back,” I mean the old-school, hardcore RPG’s of yore.

Ishar 3

To be fair, there’s still a fair amount of Old-School RPG DNA in some of the biggest games today. Besides the few games still adhering to the old school formulas (Dungeons of Dredmor, The Dark Spire, Etrian Odyssey series), there are several titles that appeal to those who were gaming in the 80’s/90’s, or appreciate their legacy. The Witcher 2 is a great example of a game that balances the cinematic, character-based story of games like Mass Effect, with deep combat, skill systems, and character building of true old-school RPGs; Bethesda’s games offer massive worlds filled with quests, dungeons, and NPCs to create your own story — not to mention games like Fallout 3 and Skyrim prove you can evolve character building without sacrificing depth. And, of course, it wouldn’t be an article about RPGs if I didn’t mention Dark Souls, and it’s predecessor Demon’s Souls: truly hardcore RPGs of the modern era.

But when it comes to real old-school RPGs utilizing the same design of classic titles like Wizardry and Ultima, the industry has been in a bit of a drought. There’s always been a small, cult following around a few underground niche titles, but now there are a few projects brewing that will hopefully usher in a new surge of old-school RPGs.

Legend of Grimrock
Developer: Almost Human
Released: April 11, 2012
Website

We reviewed this game back when it was released earlier this year. It remains one of my favorite indie games of the year. Despite middling reviews from some critics, for many gamers like myself Legend of Grimrock was a great throwback to the dungeon crawlers of the 19980’s/90’s, tweaked and modernized for more accessibility. More importantly, it set the ground work for future sequels, and opened the door for new games in the genre to flourish.

Shaker
Developer: Loot Drop
Estimated Release: January 2014
Kickstarter Page

Being developed by Tom Hall (co-founder of id Software), and Brendan Brathwaite (Wizardry, Train, Dungeons & Dragons), Shaker is currently being funded on Kickstarter. The duo started the studio Loot Drop Games, and together with a highly qualified team, are looking to create a game in the same vein as the classic CRPGs of yore a la Wizardry, Lands of Lore, Ishar, etc.. Personally speaking, this is probably one of the few currently funding Kickstarter projects I’m really, really excited about. Check out their Kickstarter page and please back it! We need more games like this.

Project Eternity
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Estimated Release Date: April 2014
Website

Obsidian games are a studio well known to any RPG fan. Recently, the company was able to fully fund a brand new party-based RPG in the vein of Icewind Dale and Baldur’s Gate. This is another project I’m super excited for, and I’m really happy to see that they exceeded their goal and will be making this game. There is quite an impressive pedigree here, and some of the ideas being talked about remind me a lot of Planescape: Torment, one of my personal favorite games of all time. The success of this project gives me high hopes for the future of the genre.

Wasteland 2
Developer: InXile Entertainment

Estimated Release Date: Oct. 2013
Website

Before there was Fallout, there was Wasteland. In the wake of the massive success of Tim Schafer’s Double Fine Adventure Kickstarter, Brian Fargo decided to reboot his post-apocalyptic RPG Wasteland, and launched the Wasteland 2 Kickstarter. The project has been fully funded, and work is underway. Check out the video above for a small glimpse of what we can expect from this project. I never got a chance to play the original Wasteland, but as a huge fan of Fallout and Fallout 2 (games directly inspired by Wasteland) the footage has me jonesin for some top-down, post-apocalyptic roleplaying insanity.

Ultima Forever
Developer: Bioware,
Estimated Release Date: Winter 2012
Website

Speaking of well known developers, Bioware is resurrecting one of the oldest and most influencial Role Playing series with Ultima Forever. Essentially a remake of Ultima IV, this new title is going to be entirely free to play (or, as Bioware calls it “Play4Free”) and will be playable on PC, as well as iPad. According to Bioware, the game will feature many of the old mechanics of the Ultima series, while combat will be positional and action-oriented, comparing it to The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Definitely on my list of need-to-play games —  I mean c’mon, free Ultima!

That list almost sounds too good to be true. So many great names and developers are behind these projects, and my hopes are high. And these are just classic RPG’s; we’re also seeing the return of point and click adventure games (thanks to Tim Schaefer and Double Fine’s highly successful Kickstarter campaign), mech games (MechWarrior Online, Hawken), turn-based strategy (The Banner Saga, XCOM: Enemy Unknown), and of course Chris Robert’s return to gaming and the long-forgotten space-combat sim with Squardron 42. It’s almost too much to handle! With such bright prospects like these, it’s hard to argue we’re not in a new golden-age of videogames. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a basement to return to.

Shootin’ the Shit — October 12, 2012

Yuuuuuup! I’m doin’ this! I got some good feedback on the first entry, and had a lot of fun putting it together, so I think I’ll make this a regular thing for the foreseeable future.

You may have noticed that the content was skewed heavily towards the latter half of the week and there was sadly no new episode of The Low Down, but hey, it was better than nothing. We’ve pretty much worked out the major kinks we’ve be hit with in the past couple weeks, so at the very least you’ll be getting plenty more content from myself here on out.

ANYWAY! Here’s what matter to me on the internet this week:

Stuff I said

Sadly, I’ve found myself parted from my beloved Dark Souls for a few days. To fill the massive void, I did a double review of a couple hardcore dungeon crawler RPGs, The Dark Spire, and Etrian Odyssey II.  

After years of devotion, I think I’m done with Blizzard’s games now…

You know what sucks? Videogame graphics.

Stuff I read

Proving once again to be one of my favorite voices at my personal favorite gaming site, Giant Bomb’s Patrick Klepick interviews the modders who took Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition from busted PC port to fully-featured masterpiece.

Speaking of the hey-day of Blizzard, apparently there was almost a Diablo prequel on the Gameboy.

In the biggest bummer of the week, scientists confirm they cannot currently clone dinosaurs

…but in order to make up for it, are now performing experiments to find out if we are, in fact, in The Matrix!

Stuff I watched

The Mega64 guys do it again, this time providing October scares with their Alan Wake video:

While he may no longer be developing games at Epic, Cliffy B’s still got his finger on the pulse of game development, Tweeting out this awesome video of a first person shooter using all physics-based movement — no animations at all. Very impressive, and shows off where games may be headed:

Awesome games that came out this week:

Three really awesome games came out this week. I hope to get some hands-on time with each in the future:

Dishonored — an open-ended stealth FPS; Theif, Half Life 2, and Bioshock blended into one sick Bethesda game.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown – a reboot of sorts of the classic turn-based strategy game. Enemy Unknown keeps with tradition in that it’s hard as hell.

Retro City Rampage – an indie game modeled after the early Grand Theft Autos and bursting at the seams with retro-gaming references.

Misc.

I reviewed Enslaved’s new record, RIITIIR for Beard Rock. At this point, it’s the best album I’ve heard all year.

Finally, a few quick notes: first and foremost, there WILL be a new episode of The Low Down next week, so keep an eye out for that. In addition, as I mentioned on monday, we will be recording a new episode of The Power Cast as well! Next week is shaping up to be pretty crazy.

That’s it for this week. We’ll be back on Monday to give you plenty of stuff to waste your time on. I’m out!

The Dark Spire versus Etrian Odyssey II: Hardcore RPG face-off

Blah blah blah Skyrim. Blah blah blah Dark SoulsBlah blah blah Diablo. Blah blah blah Mass Effect.

We’ve probably beaten  it into your heads by now, but here at Power Cords, we like RPGs. Personally speaking I love RPGs; but unlike many gamers (and even some of the writers here at Power Cords), I prefer a specific type of experience from my RPGs. While some pine for loot and others eat up story lines and dialogue, I prefer immersion and exploration.

There are different definitions of exploration. For example, the fantasy setting of The Elder Scrolls series offer massive lands to traverse and are the perfect settings for exploration; while games like Dark Souls, Legend of Grimrock, and Dungeons of Dredmor allow players to explore and experiment with the game mechanics through trial and error (and a fair bit of luck). I love that sort of hands-off design that encourages the player to try new things — even if the ultimately end in failure. as I mentioned earlier this week, I’m still playing Dark Souls for that very reason. Unfortunately, I’ve found myself away from my Xbox — and therefore Dark Souls — this weekend. Not to be melodramatic, but in an effort to stave off the bumming, I took a look at two relatively unknown RPGs for the Nintendo DS with similar design concepts and old-school sensibilities: The Dark Spire and Etrian Odyssey II. 

The Dark Spire

Developed by Success and published by Atlus, The Dark Spire is a dark, dreadfully difficult hardcore dungeon crawler that is essentially a throwback to the CRPGs of yore like Wizardry and A Bard’s Tale. The basic scenario for The Dark Spire revolves around a single, massive tower with several floors to explore. Hidden atop the tower is a sorcerer who has stolen a necklace from the royal family. You create a party of adventurers to scale the tower, defeat the sorcerer, and return the necklace. That’s it.  Some quests and dialogue flesh out the background and setting a bit more, but that’s about it. The story doesn’t get any deeper than that; climbing the tower and scouring each of its floors is a story in itself, and is far more compelling than any hackneyed fantasy tale would be.

I haven’t had too much time with the game yet, but so far I like what I’ve seen. The art is wonderful — it has a dark, comic-book-ish feel (large hand drawn “BOOM’s” will flash across the screen when a character scores a critical hit). Despite having essentially zero animation, the art still manages to draw you in and create a strong sense of place. The music is also great, often times sounding like Castlevania crossed with the early Elder Scrolls games. But the art is just the surface of the extremely deep game.

In The Dark Spire, you control a 4-man party, exploring grid-based dungeons in first person, a la Legends of Grimrock. Character stats are rolled randomly in the creation process, making each one you create unique from the rest. In terms of gameplay, very little is explained to the player. New items do little to explain how they will affect your characters’ stats, instead requiring trial and error to find out what work best. Certain game mechanics, such as character alignment, praying, quests, or learning new spells, exist without tutorial or explanation. There seems to be quite a bit here that could easily be overlooked if you jump in impatiently; try to mash the A button to get through the random battles, and you’ll quickly find yourself at the game over screen. I’ve even read there are hidden classes that can be unlocked through a class combination system and unlockable races. How do I go about discovering this stuff? No clue, but I look forward to delving into this game to find just how deep these mechanics go.

Etrian Odyssey II: Heroes of Lagaard

Etrian Odyssey is another Atlus joint, this time being both developed and published by the Japanese company (it’s worth noting that Atlus also published Demon’s Souls, of which Dark Souls is the spiritual sequel). EO II is very similar to The Dark Spire: first person dungeon crawling, random monster encounters, minimal story, and interfacing with towns mainly through menu navigation. However, EO II features a few gameplay hooks that set it apart. First is the map system. Instead of slowly uncovering a map as you explore, your tasked with drawing and completing your own via the stylus screen on the DS. This adds another layer of depth to exploration, but also another way for you to completely screw yourself over; draw an incorrect map, and you may jeopardize the success of your quest.

The second change is the class/guild system. In Etrian Odyssey II, the world of Lagaard is filled with guilds of adventurers attempting to uncover ancient secrets about their world. At the outset of your adventure, you create your own guild. You can then fill out your ranks with up to 30 characters. While the stat rolling isn’t random like in The Dark Spire, the number of classes available to you is far greater, each one filling slightly different rolls than the others. You may then select up to 5 of your guild members to join your party and enter the labyrinthine forests of the Yggdrasil tree.

Equipment and stats are more transparent in EO II than The Dark Spire, but the added depth of the class system means you must experiment with class synergy to find effective formations, provide both deeply challenging yet highly rewarding gameplay.

I also really like the art design of the Etrian Odyssey games. It’s almost like an lighter, anime-inspired Dark Souls, and very reminiscent of the Disgaea series. The character portraits and art design makes EO II a very pretty game, despite the majority of the game being handled through static 2D sprites and menus.

Closing thoughts

Both games are excellent examples of hardcore dungeon crawling. Their depth and difficulty scratch the Dark Souls itch — well, as closely they can, at least. I enjoy and appreciate their design philosophies, choosing to let the player explore the game mechanics and dungeons to find their own paths and strategies instead of hand-holding or restricting experimentation. While that can lead to failure and frustration, it also leads to high levels of reward and progression. I haven’t had enough time with the games to say which I prefer over the other but at this point, despite having seemingly more aspects of the gameplay unexplained and hidden initially, I’ve found The Dark Spire more conducive to pick up and play, simply due to the meticulous map drawing of Etrian Odyssey II being a hassle at times (it doesn’t help I’m not playing the games on their original platform *ehem*). That being said, I do find Etrian Odyssey’s class mechanics and presentations slightly more appealing.

The Dark Spire

Despite being very similar in gameplay and design, Etrian Odyseey II and The Dark Spire offer different dungeon crawling experiences: one is a mythical adventure inspired by manga and anime; the other is a dark medieval quest. They’re hard games that require patience, planning, and dedication, but the payoff is immense. If you’re in the market for a heavy duty RPG experience, then both of these games are perfect for you. Personally, I’d recommend both equally; picking one or the other essentially just comes down to aesthetic taste. But hey, why not pick up both? It’s always good to have options. And kudos for Atlus for bringing these and many more excellent RPGs to the states.

Scores

The Dark Spire: 4/5

Etrian Odyssey: Heroes of Lagaard: 4/5

Brendan’s Top 10 Best Videogame Soundtracks

My two favorite forms of media entertainment are videogames and music. Obviously, I enjoy to occasional TV show or movie, listen to quite a few podcasts, and I actually read quite a bit as well. But when push comes to shove, if I’ve got time to space I’d almost always prefer spending with a controller in my hand or headphones over my ears. Luckily enough, videogames are a pretty great source of good music. And to be clear, I don’t mean themes — there are tons of great videogame themes The Elder Scrolls, Final Fantasy, Halo, Uncharted, etc. I mean full on soundtracks. Granted, as games try harder and harder to be movies, we’re left with far less memorable, overly “epic” orchestrated scores that begin to blend together. But there are still some that manage to be impactful and memorable, not to mention the myriad of retro games whose 8- and 16-bit soundtracks went on to inspire an entire genre of music.. Anyway, enough blathering — here are my 10 favorite videogame soundtracks.

10. Brutal Legend

Is it unfair of me to include this game? Probably, but I’m doing it anyway because I love metal. Brutal Legend is a metal-as-fuck game about metal that uses over 100 awesome metal songs in some of the most metal ways ever. The end.

Not only that, but there was a bunch of original music composed for the game as well.

9. Rayman: Origins

Rayman is near and dear to me. While others were picking mushrooms some fat plumber in a pedo stache and suspenders, I was off exploring the magical dreamland of Rayman. The music in the series has always been important. Often, entire sections of the games would be centered around musical notes and timing. But no matter if the music was integral to the gameplay, or just background to it, the dream-like world of Rayman was brought to life by its music. Rayman: Origins is by far my favorite game in the series, and it also features without a doubt the series’ best music.

8. Castlevania 2

Halloween is my favorite Holiday. Many of my favorite death metal and doom metal bands are that way because they sound like Halloween. Every time I pop in a band like Hooded Menace or Graveyard, I feel like it’s Halloween. Castlevania 2 sounds like Halloween. It’s a bit dark, slightly creepy due to minor chord melodies (that are incredibly catchy). Castlevania 2 has probably my favorite NES soundtrack, and is the perfect example of 8-Bit chiptunes music.

7. Metal gear solid 3

Big Boss makes Chuck Norris look like a chump, and James Bond like a pansey. Hideo Kojima’s complex commentary on the future of war began with electro-symphonic rock, but when the series took us back in time, to delve into the inanity and insanity of the Cold War, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater took a page from 007, switching things up with funky, 60-era spy flick grooves, complete with it’s very own “Bond Song.” It’s one of my favorite theme songs to any piece of media ever.

6. Metroid Prime

Metroid always had spacey, strange sci-fi songs that offered an ominous sense of being alone on an alien planet. But Metroid Prime added another element: wonder. The beauty and detail of Tallon IV created a strong sense of place. It was lived in, there was history in every crevice and brick. Metroid Prime certainly made you feel alone, and the soundtrack is appropriately alien and sci-fi, but the wonder you feel when entering Chozo Ruins or Phendrana Drifts for the first time compel you to explore this planet in a way few other settings do, and a large part of that is due to the wonderful soundtrack, punctuating every new secret and discovery.

5. Dark Souls

For the most part, Dark Souls is silent. Often, the only soundtrack to your demise is the ambiance of you environment, and the menacing sounds of the enemies that hunt you. When music does kick in, it is usually understated, dark, melancholic — like the game itself. But when you find yourself face-to-face with the morbid and terrifying bosses of the game, the ordeals are scored by massive sections of brass horns and woodwinds, gothic choirs, piercing string instruments, and pummeling drums. Despite the overwhelming obstacles and depressing atmosphere, Dark Souls provides some of the strongest feelings of reward and accomplishment of any game, and the soundtrack underscores that struggle perfectly.

4. Shadow of the Colossus

Much like Dark Souls, Shadow of the Colossus is a quiet and understated game, for the most part. Traversing this empty land is a lonely and bleak affair; but felling the 16 hulking, majestic beasts that roam the land is daunting and terrifying. Each boss fight  is (again, much like Dark Souls) scored by songs as epic and awe-inspiring as the beasts themselves. And like Dark Souls, there is a sense of accomplishment with each victory. But unlike Dark Souls, you don’t feel like a hero — you feel like a monster. As you watch these beings die, you feel as if you’ve betrayed them of something for more important than just their life. And every note drives the tendrils of guilt deeper into you.

3. The Legend of Zelda (series)

I don’t have to say much here. There’s probably only one other series with as well know and iconic music in the world of videogames (and I didn’t even mention it on this list. GASP!). The Legend of Zelda is the music of my childhood; It’s music I’ll remember for the rest of my life.

2. Doom

C’mon.

1. Mass Effect

Mass Effect’s music is astounding. The synthetic elements of the songs meld into the organic sounds of tangible instruments. This creates and entirely unique sound — you know when you’re listening to a Mass Effect song. But it’s not just the fact that the songs are good, or memorable, or that they give the universe an identity, but that they make you feel something. The mysterious galaxy map song fills you with curiosity and wonder at the immensity of space; Mass Effect 3’s theme weighs down on you as you’re face with an inescapable fate; and the theme for Mass Effect 2’s Suicide Mission may be the most inspiring piece of music I’ve ever heard. Not matter what the final game did or did not do for you is irrelevant because no matter what, when the final moment comes you feel something.

Runner Ups:

Red Dead Redemption

Pokemon

Diablo series

Final Fantasy XII

The Elder Scrolls series

What are you favorite videogame soundtracks? Think I’m insane for including/forgetting something? Sound off in the comments! Also, suggest some other list ideas to me. I realize that they’ve been mostly broad topics, and thus result in a lot of cross over and feature similar games on each, and to be honest I’m running out of things to say about a lot of these games/series, but I still love doing lists. So if there’s a topic or idea you’ve got for a list, let me know in the comments as well, or email us at askpowercords@gmail.com!

Want more video game music? be sure to check out the latest episode of the Power Cast!

Comedian/Actor Peter Serafinowicz loves Dark Souls almost as much as I do.

This put a smile on my face.

IGN recently posted a video where actor and comedian Peter Serafinowicz (Shaun of the Dead) professes his unabashed love for Dark Souls. His description of the game and the emotions you experience while playing is perfectly apt. It’s just a really cool video; I always enjoy seeing people you wouldn’t normally expect being completely engrossed in a game like Dark Souls. Peek the video here, and if Mr. Serafinowicz’s description isn’t enough to make play the game, check out our article on why you should totally play Dark Souls.

Are there any awesome celebrity gamers you guys know about? Leave a comment and let us know!