Search Results for: music

Mammals needed

No long article from me this week; am setting up with a new client to earn money to buy more time to think about games for your pleasure, dear reader. But here a couple of small items nonetheless:


Anna Anthropy’s book Rise of the Videogame Zinesters is coming out this spring, and she asked a bunch of folks to record very short videos for her to stitch together into a book-tour promotion. This was my contribution:

This is the essay I refer to in the video. It really is one of my favorite written works of game-design takeapart.


There are still a few unclaimed songs in Kevin’s Apollo 18 IF Tribute Album project. It’s particularly needful of a short work of interactive fiction that would complement the song “Mammal”, but there are a bunch of one-move “Fingertips” games that need to be written as well.

The first-draft deadline remains set at February 12. Those who find themselves suddenly inspired to create a They Might Be Giants fan-game at tremendous velocity should feel free to claim a remaining slot and follow the instructions on the original post.

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Xbox Indie Game: The Headsman

You, the titular axe-swinging noggin-collector, must efficiently behead an endless line of trembling wretches, timing your blows so that their tumbling melons plop into baskets whizzing past. Stash as many heads as you can in this deft manner before the game's timer ends. This timer serves at the game's real standout feature, taking the form of the eponymous song "The Headsman" by Deathlike Silence, a four-and-a-half-minute rock ballad about - yes indeed! - choppin' off heads.

Headsman_screenshot_3.jpgAn accompanying music video plays while you hack away at your gory work, the lyrics scrolling along in time. I had not heard of this band before I discovered this game, and this is at least partly because I'm not 15 years old. The Finnish band's act is a sort of cartoon death punk, with the video depicting the gothed-up contralto frontswoman leading her cloaked and cowled band through graveyards and dungeons while the camera frequently jump-cuts away to weeping angels or grinning skulls. It's the sort of thing a movie containing a parody of a goth band might put together, but as far as I can tell the band is playing it straight (look, they have a website), and that is bloody beautiful.

The game's own activity is lightly tied into the timing of the song itself; when the refrain comes around, even the condemned can't help but start nodding to the beat. More effort appears in the audiovisual treats you receive for arcing a flying head into one of the more distant baskets, which scores you the most points. These range from basso profundo cackling to the sight of your otherwise unseen audience rising to its feet to cheer your skill at rocking the axe.

These thematic rewards serve to create a sort of custom remix of the song's prerecorded video. Combine this with the one-button control scheme, as well as the jawdropping sight of Deathlike Silence doing their thing, and despite the game's core dopeyness I find myself not just inviting all my visiting friends to play through it, but occasionally returning to myself. If you're anything like me, you too will have fire it up now and again to see if you can improve your scoreboard rank from "Rarely-miss Randy" to "Bruce the Butcher" while taking guilty pleasure in letting the music make you feel like an oily teenager again. (Yes, I have gone ahead and purchased the song from iTunes, as well.)

Interestingly, "The Headsman" was created by David Flook, previously known for the highly praised 2008 Xbox Indie game "Blow", a mellow puzzler where you guide bubbles through a vernal obstacle course. It's quite polished and beautiful, where this latter game instead revels in its rough-hewn (sorry) graphics and overt silliness, lending it the air of something knocked out quickly to blow off steam between larger projects. Despite this, this deliriously short and fun game falls solidly in my own blood-soaked "totally worth a dollar" bucket.

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DoKashiteru's music

I just happened across the homepage of DoKashiteru, a duo whose music I have used liberally in recent video projects - Gameshelf included. They put much of their work into the Creative Commons under remix-friendly licenses, so I plan on continuing to use it as an aural background for my own stuff. (Before today I knew the band's music via its page on ccMixter, the site I raid for all my legally clean background music needs.)

They really hit the spot for the kind of blip-happy electronica I'm quite fond of, and I encourage you give them a listen. They make videos, too: here is Sander, one of the pair, giving you a lesson on how to torture some chunky sounds out of an ancient, analog Moog synthesizer.

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Speaking of Llamasoft

You may have known (as I did) that Space Giraffe's eye-bending visuals resemble Neon, the Xbox 360's built-in music visualizer, because they come from the same creator. But perhaps you did not know (as I didn't until just now) that Neon is meant to be a fully interactive experience, whose manual can teach you how to use up to four Xbox controllers to influence the on-screen animation, with each one modifying a different attribute, including camera position, tunnel effects, and "boingy".

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Music break

Time for a musical interlude!

  • My pal Jared recently shared the 1977 David Bowie song "What in the World" with me. Everyone (or at least everyone of a certain age) listening to it today can't not think of Pac-Man and its arcade contemporaries, even though these games wouldn't debut for several more years. That Bowie; such a visionary!
  • I fixed the link to the Black Knight 2000 soundtrack that was featured way back in episode 1. That's the circa-1989 pinball game we're playing beneath the closing credits. Are you able to listen to this and not be overcome with the desire to go into multiball mode right now? No, you are not.
  • If you've ever wanted to listen to the whole thing without my yapping all over it, here's the full version of the Gameshelf theme song that my co-host Joe Johnston composed. It's over at Joe's music page.

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