The 'Shroom:Issue 107/Palette Swap
Hello, hello, hello, everyone! Welcome to the mini-special, and thanks so much for dropping by to give us a read!
We have a great selection of sections for you this month, all top-quality, as usual! Additionally, Crocodile Dippy (talk) is demo-ing a new music section this month, called “This Month in Albums,” where she’ll give you the scoop on the latest and greatest music. Definitely give that a look, and leave her some feedback if you like it!
As well this issue, I have the results from the Tropical Freeze Art Contest, and I’m happy to be adding two additional new contests for our very special anniversaries! Check them both out below!
Enough of my talk, I’ll let you get to the art and music!
Tropical Freeze Art Contest
I’m very happy to report that we actually had some entries for the art contest this time, so it’s nice to award some prizes!
Congratulations to our winners! Walkazo will receive 5 'Shroom tokens while Pyro Guy will receive 3. Thank you to both of you for participating, and thank you everyone who voted!
Legend of Zelda Music Contest
To mix it up for the Legend of Zelda series 30th anniversary, I’m pleased to announce the opening of our first music composition contest! If music is your thing, please consider joining in!
Give us your best! Compose a song, remix an old favorite, create a mash-up, it’s up to you! The Zelda series is known for its amazing music, and we want to see your take on it!
The official rules: 1. Your piece must be no shorter than 30 seconds in length or no longer than 10 minutes. The purpose of the length limit is not to force anyone into trying to put out something much longer than they think they can do, but to make entries easier to create for everyone.
2. Any style of composing is allowed. If you want to compose your piece on a music editing software and perform it with instruments, that’s fine. If you want to make a chiptune or a computer-generated piece, that’s fine as well.
3. Your final submission must be in a format we can share here, whether that’s a public file on SoundCloud, a download link, or a YouTube video. If you do choose to put your video on YouTube, please be careful of copyright infringement.
4. As per usual with our Art contests, please include a small summary of your piece, describing what it is, why you decided to pick that music, etc.
5. We will be watching out for any plagiarism in entries. Remixing a song in a new key, tempo, or style is fine. Changing one or two small things in a song and calling it good is not. Please don’t try to pass off a Zelda song as your own!
You will have until March 19th, the day when the next issue comes out, to submit your music! There will be an official topic in the Fan Creations board on the forums, so post your entries, questions, concerns, etc., there.
Good luck to all you composers!
Pokémon Art Contest
What’s your greatest Pokémon memory? Your first starter Pokémon? Maybe it was when you beat the Champion for the first time. Or how about that Shiny Gible you hatched after 468 eggs? Whatever it is, we’d like to see and hear about it! Draw it for everyone, and you could win some 'Shroom tokens!
You don’t have to draw something from the main series games. Have a strong connection to one of the spin-offs? Maybe a favorite card in the TCG? A plushie that you absolutely adore? Do share! Tell us your story!
The official rules!
1. No size limit here. Feel free to make it as big/small as you like!
2. Any medium is accepted. Hand-drawn, computer generated, sprite work, game mods, comics, we'll take them all.
3. Your art must follow the guidelines in the Manual of Style to be accepted.
4. Your art should have an accompanying explanation of what it is. Give a paragraph or so explaining what's going on, what your inspiration was, etc. We'll be posting these in the voting, so keep it clean!
You also have until March 19th to submit your entries to the designated thread in the Fan Creations board on the forums. Voting will last another month after that.
Good luck to all artists, and happy creating!
Section of the Month
Stooben creates remixes of popular and video game music!
Hello everyone! Guess who and her twin turned 21 this month? That's right, I can finally drink alcohol now! Not that I want to; I've tasted hard apple cider before and I can say with full confidence that the nonalcoholic apple cider I've been used to tastes better for me than that alcoholic stuff. That is one thing I'll guarantee, none of my future sections will be the result of me being drunk. Not that there's much difference anyway, some of these mods require drunk minds to fully comprehend. Which brings up the subject matter....it's time for me to present something in this Game Mods section of the month.
As you probably might figured out by now, The 'Shroom is featuring a very special month, regarding The Legend of Zelda and Pokémon. Naturally, I'd have to comply with that and feature a very special mod to promote the message of this month to celebrate one of them; my pick being The Legend of Zelda, as you will find out why I chose that and not Pokémon. I think I found a very special mod indeed that will not disappoint any Legend of Zelda fans. Presenting you....trade_Clocktown_Immersive. It is yet another Garry's Mod mod, you know, that sandbox game I had featured content for last month. This time, it's a map of the famous Clock Town from The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. Let me make this clear...this is the first time I am featuring mod that I did not create. Do not credit me if you want to show this off to your friends: credit to a fellow named Sreap and his team on Facepunch.com for creating this wonderful map. I am just a relayer of information; the map is so well-crafted and great, to almost perfection, that there's no possible way I am NOT featuring this in this section of The 'Shroom, especially when we're celebrating The Legend of Zelda's 30th anniversary this month!
Also, this month is Chinese New Year, called Lunar New Year in others. It's the Year of the Monkey now, and unfortunately, Donkey Kong's anniversary is not the focus of this month. Me personally, I'm not a monkey. I'm a pig. So if I'm part of Star Wolf, I'm Pigma. Not very flattering....I admit...I digress...here is the mod! Another reason I chose this is that a Legend of Zelda game about a gigantic moon is a perfect fit for this month. Not only is it moon-related, it's Legend of Zelda-related also. Talk about hitting two Keese with a moon rock!
So, exactly why is this particular Garry's Mod map so great? Given the skills, anyone can port maps into Garry's Mod, all with varying quality and time spent on it. A good chunk of maps are well-made, but it's a bit difficult to search maps, since maps, due to their time and effort spent on it, are less common than, say, player models or ragdolls. You have to set lighting parameters, you have to set up collisions, you have to set up respawn points, you have to set up NPC nodes, and some more. I'm not educated on map creation at all, so I cannot give full details on map creation and why you probably won't ever see a map featured on Game Mods created by me, with the possible sole exception of a Mario Kart Wii custom track in the future. Many maps are ported from their source games, with Clock Town being one of those ported maps from its original game.
However, that's not where the fun ends. Clock Town can be any old map out there, static and unchanging. They're similar to landscapes, forever stuck to their one state. The good news is, Clock Town is not an unchanging map. Quite the contrary: it's constantly changing. If you played the original game, or at least heard about it, you should know that it's about a gigantic darn moon about to plummet the place to doom. It's not faithful to create a static Clock Town map and leave its dynamic changes out of it. This is where this Clock Town map succeeds in flying colors.
Nearly everything about the map is faithful to the original game it appears in, except the obvious lack of any NPCs outside some animated "props" but let's not spoil ourselves here. Whenever you begin the map, you start out either inside the Clock Tower or the Fairy Fountain.
The background music plays, and it's something you'd be surprised to expect. The Clock Tower music plays the Clock Tower music and the Fairy Fountain plays the Fairy Fountain music, unexpected as that may sound. The deal is, looped background music in any map is rare. Even some of the other ported maps like Peach's Castle from Super Mario 64 do not have any background music. What's even rarer is that the music changes when you move out of the designated area. As soon as you step out of either the Clock Tower or the Fairy Fountain, you're greeted with the oh-so very familiar Clock Town theme....Dawn of the First Day that is...
That's pretty much your first foray into the map. The map being left empty has its advantages, so it could be a good thing they are omitted because of coding complexities for NPCs to act exactly as they did in The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. It's perfect for posing pictures with, so an empty map lets you take pictures of whatever characters you would want to populate the map with. You can even use The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask models to fill in some areas, though unfortunately, I have not seen a ragdoll pack for the NPCs from that game, so for now, you're a bit out of luck there.
Another limitation the map has is that you sadly cannot enter any buildings. Not saying that it's impossible to make the buildings enterable; it entirely is. I've played my good share of The Legend of Zelda maps, there's another one out there that's really, really huge and even more complex than this one, but it's very unstable and there is an overall lack of lighting, probably to keep it from crashing, as that map breaches the limitations of the Source engine. I might save that for another issue...what I'm saying is that, yes, you can't enter any buildings in Clock Town, but that's a really small downside compared to the sheer amount of detail and attention paid to the source material that this map actually has. Again, let's not spoil ourselves here.
You can visit all of the districts of the Clock Town, all with their own details. For example, you will find those Deku Flowers dotted all across this map. Unfortunately, you are not a Deku Link, so therefore, you cannot use these flowers to fly around. And before you can say that you can make a player model of Deku Link, you are not THE Deku Link.
Crates are scattered among town. You can break 'em if you like. Or do something with them, but they'll probably break before you know it. I don't think they even respawn, so you have to Clean Up Everything under admin controls if you want your lovely crates back, since that function resets everything in the map. So it's basically a soft reset if you messed something up, like say, dragging a door out of place accidentally.
In the Laundry Pool section of Clock Town, there's a frog hopping there, a missing member of the Frog Choir. You don't have the Don Gero's Mask and if you did, all you can do is throw it around or make a character wear it. You can smack that bell with your wrench, and it will go "DING DING!" Fun fun fun.
Underwater something is there....
Ignoring that, let's see where else I can go. I can swim the opposite direction, which will take me to this neat room right here.
I think that ghost is just a nice Easter Egg by one of the creators of the map. So basically, good for you if you find this room!
One more thing to show off....there's an Owl Statue in town. Simply smack it with your...gun or wrench...and it will open its wings!
Just when you think you spent long enough in the map, you hear a bell ringing. If you played The Legend of Majora's Mask, that bell signals the end of the day or night. So that means night will come. Will it come? Yes it does come! When it arrives, the wolves howl, the skies turn dark, the town becomes lit with torches, and it's now the night of the first day. There's no HUD telling you that, but I'm pretty sure you can do without it; the environment alteration is signal enough. The Clock Town music stops as well, replaced with the night ambiance, again, which is how the game does it.
Time passes quickly in this map, especially when you're posing. Posing a character to good positions takes a chunk of a "day" time in this map. Usually, once I'm done posing for a scene, the day changes into night. Sometimes it's not ideal when you want your environment take place in a specific time of the day, like at night, only to find the time of the day changes to day, so you either have to be content of the time of the day it's in or wait for the next day or night.
You don't have a way to keep track of the time in the map unless you read the clocks scattered throughout the map, that no one really used in the original Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask game because the game HUD was there to tell players all info they need. Unfortunately, they tend to not sync with the actual time in the map, due to lag or pausing the game. So sometimes, when you see the clock, it displays a sun rather than a moon, even though ingame, the sun just set and it's actually night. Fortunately, any resets will sync the clock back to normal, including the end of the cycle reset (that I will get to), so it won't be permanently unsynced. Another thing is that the game does not showcase day-night transitions smoothly, so there's that. If you're dying for that, you can always download the Atmos add-on for sunsets and daybreaks, but I'll save that for another time.
Anyway, I still haven't explored all of Clock Town yet. Treasure chests are where you would expect them, including that 100 Rupee treasure chest. Annnd you can go into the Bombers' Hideout. Since there are no Bombers, you can enter and mess around any time you like. Though the passageway is longer than it is, considering that there is no transition, you'll end up in that dark, dank place anyway. That ambiance doesn't help.
Of course, you'll end up in the Astral Observatory when you traverse through the hideout. And the music changes to that wonderful theme. When you arrive there, you'll find that dancing Scarecrow and a Cucco in a cage, clucking away incessantly. If you hate that Scarecrow and hit him with your weapon of choice, he'll just dance. And dance as if he enjoys getting hit.
Upstairs, you'll see a telescope and a door outside, that leads to Termina Field. Normally, you can't go to Termina Field that way, but the gods of noclip smiled upon you and you can fly through that fence. Or you can just lower the gravity and jump over the fence, but anything works!
It takes a while to traverse through Termina Field. You don't have Epona with you, so what do you do? Spawn a car and drive across it of course! Thanks to modern technology, you can warp your high tech cars across dimensions and use cars unfitting for the time period that The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask takes place in. Though that's not really a big surprise, considering that I am already using a character not from that game, so all logic was thrown out the window from the very beginning. Though I'll warn you, some cars travel quickly and you'll find yourselves crashing against a lot of stuff in Termina Field. At least Epona can jump over things.
And no, using air vehicles are not an option. You WILL crash with them here.
Here's a gallery of the locales from Termina Field and stuff you will find.
You'll find Gossip Stones when you explore around this part of the map. When you encounter them, you can strike them and they'll jiggle around happily, and laugh. Though if you throw explosives at it, it won't launch away like a rocket, my favorite animation for these things. They just sit there jiggling all day. Neat little things, they are.
On the Mountain Village area of the map, you'll find this randomized song. Well I think it's randomized, I swear it's different every time I come here. I haven't remembered the purpose of it. I think it releases a Piece of Heart or something, I don't know. I know you can uh, change properties of it, so it acts like a prop rather than actually part of the texture of the wall.
This portion of the map is big expansive, and empty, making it ideal for builders and roleplayers alike! Or if you're bored, you can just drive vehicles (and crash them) all around Termina Field all day. Or you can kill zombies, but you can do that anywhere you like.
Then....when the clock starts ringing, Dawn of the Second Day arrives. And then...yes, it starts raining in Clock Town, with the second day, peaceful Clock Town music accompanying that. Oh and it's thunderstorming too, just need to point that out there.
So, you're wondering, what exactly would happen on the night of the final day? Everything seems to be routine from this point forward. I mean, the moon would crash on the third day, right? Wouldn't that destroy this map and you? Wouldn't you die from this, even with God Mode enabled? Well, let's find out. Let's fast forward to the third day, where you hear that scary third day Clock Town music playing, and wait until night. The Earth also starts shaking that day, due to event flags...I mean, the moon drawing in closer and closer to the doomed Clock Town. It could screw around your camera and mess around with your posing at point and point, so it's a bit disorienting. So yes, it's another detail from the game that this map also nails down quite well.
When night falls, things seem pretty normal, sans the earthquakes. Halfway at night, though, creepy, foreboding music starts playing, as in the game, warning you that the moon will crash very very soon, and it will be the end of this world. The bells ring more frequently, as it sounds like a very desperate pleas for help and panic. Then you look up, and you see....this:
So I just bail out. Of course. There's nothing none of us can do about this. Does it look like we're the Hero of Time? No, we're not. Isn't there a Hero of Time on this map somewhere? Where is he!?
Fortunately, there's a hidden hole in the ground in this map that leads to somewhere. And lo and behold, that's where the Hero of Time is. He's sitting around, dawdling, looking at his Fierce Deity's Mask, while Tatl occasionally comes out and bonks him in the head. In this room, you'll also find the names of the contributors to this awesome map. Make sure you mentally thank all of them for the creation of this map!
Then, when the bell at even a more frequent pace, that's when it's the last minute before the place goes to doom. Never fear! Link here takes out his Ocarina and plays the Song of Time, thus resetting everything before total catastrophe and massacre happens. You'll hear his Ocarina playing anywhere in the map, but this area and at this time is the only place where you can actually see Link do his Ocarina playing animation.
Thus the cycle continues on and on, as often as you like. Link is here to keep everything running smoothly, so you don't need to worry about playing the Song of Time itself to save Termina from imminent destruction. Is this all what the map has to offer? Definitely not. There are still some areas you can end up in if you use the no clip button, since it appears teleporters to those locations don't work.
For example, you can go to the Skull Kid fight area if you no clip. The place doesn't open up in the night of the final day, though, so otherwise, it's pretty much impossible to access. Though what does happen here is that you can get transported inside the moon, where, everything is bliss and tranquil, especially its tranquil atmosphere. And you can drive cars in there. There's not much to see outside of grass and trees but at least there are no creepy Happy Mask Salespeople kids. There's also a location where you can meet Zelda as in Ocarina of Time, though I think it was removed in a more recent update. I don't remember, has been a while since I last met Zelda there.
So, is this it? Yes it is. As I said, the map is fully detailed, and while my information in this issue may sound redundant to people who have already played The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, the information being redundant is actually good thing. It tells you how well-crafted this map is, where it takes advantage of what the Source Engine can do and replicates the experience nearly point-by-point. Calling this map "well-made" is not strong enough to describe how I feel about this map. If I created my own personal Top 10 Garry's Mod maps of all time, I would place this in the Top 5 positions, guaranteed. The creation and how adhesive it is to its source material is most certainly a must-have map to any Legend of Zelda fans who play Garry's Mod. Heck, even nonLegend of Zelda fans will adore this map, because it's just that good and it's a good location for posing your ragdolls or just hanging around in. Because of how much I like this map, I took many pictures with this map as a setting.
If any of you is interested, here is the Workshop page for this add-on. Keep in mind that there are other versions of this add-on; this map is the one I'm personally subscribed to.
Ongoing Fan Projects
Wassup, all you listeners? Welcome back to 8-Bit Amphitheater! You may have noticed this section was missing last month; the reason, being that I've dropped this section down to bi-monthly for 2016. I did this so I have time to make more chiptunes than I was able to throughout 2015. I hope none of you mind.
This month, I will be presenting you with 12 chiptunes. Six of these chiptunes were created as a tribute to prominent musicians who passed away between December 2015 and February of this year. I wish that these were not the circumstances under which their songs were made into chiptunes, but I felt that this was a decent way to remember their work nonetheless. To end the section on a more positive note, however, I have also made three chiptunes in honor of Valentine's Day, one chiptune in honor of Pokémon, one in honor of The Legend of Zelda, and the final one, I think I'll leave a surprise for now.
Going alphabetically, David Bowie is the first artist represented in this tribute. His death came as a shock to pretty much everyone, except those who were closest to Bowie (his family, his doctor, and his producer). The artist's deteriorating health was kept hidden from the public for 18 months, during which time, Bowie and his producer worked on the album, Blackstar. The album was created by Bowie as a parting gift to his fans. The content of the album is dark, confused, and brutally honest, highly reflective of every desire and struggle Bowie experienced during his battle with liver cancer. It serves as a haunting, but artistically appropriate, coda to a very unique entertainer's life and career. Due to the expansiveness of Bowie's career, it was difficult to pick just one track to represent him, but I ultimately decided on the fan- and critic-favorite, "Heroes". It's an inspiring track with a comforting flurry of sounds coating it for 6 minutes. I worked very hard to capture as many of the textural waves as I could, right down to the churning guitar echo behind Bowie's vocals. Briano Eno's atmospheres are hard to emulate in 8-bit, I must say. Regardless, if you're bothering to read this section, you should at least familiarize yourself with the original version of "Heroes" if you've never heard it.
Next in our tribute is Natalie Cole, who is quite a popular R&B artist despite her sparse career of "hits". She was the daughter of Nat King Cole, a jazz musician who was active from the 1940s until his death in the 1960s. Despite this, Natalie Cole managed to perform a collaboration of sorts with her father in the 1990s, with the album, Unforgettable... with Love, which featured Natalie Cole performing covers of her father's work, and even some posthumous, edited duets with him. It was a very creative idea for the time and helped Natalie Cole see a resurgence of fame long after her most successful years. If you think you don't know who this artist is, you may be surprised; her few hits are often played on appropriate radio stations and in media. For example, you may know this month's choice of "This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)" from its longtime use in eHarmony's commercials. Even if those commercials irritate you, though, I wouldn't worry about the chiptune — I was pleasantly surprised with how it turned out and now think it's one of the best chiptunes I've done yet.
Third in this month's tribute, is a track by Earth, Wind & Fire, called "Sing a Song". Like many of their songs, it was written and produced by the band's founder, Maurice White. You can hear him singing quite audibly in this track, and man could he sing. Earth, Wind & Fire have a very wide array of highly popular funk, soul, R&B, and solid disco tunes, that range from smooth and spiritual, to upbeat and contagiously optimistic. Really, White was one of the absolute best songwriters and producers of his genre and era. Their music has always managed to impact my mood, and I think a lot of people would have trouble sitting still during the group's best songs. The track I chose is one of those upbeat, optimistic songs; I chose the track because it is about finding a way to pick yourself up when you're feeling defeated or saddened, which seemed like an important message after such a long corridor of loss. That having been said, this track suits the chiptune style wonderfully, and I'm glad I spent the time needed to create it.
Next, we have Glenn Frey, perhaps best-known as co-founder of the Eagles, one of highest-grossing bands of all time. Glenn Frey wrote and sang many of the Eagles biggest hits, including "Take It Easy", "Lyin' Eyes", and "Heartache Tonight". In addition to his significant career with that band, he also had a fairly notable solo career in the 80s and early 90s with a steady stream of moderate hits. His solo career is where I've pulled this month's chiptune for him from, since I just did an Eagles' track in my last edition. This particular track, "The Heat Is On", was written for the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack, a movie starring Eddie Murphy. It is a bouncy, blues-flavored tune with a pretty fun bass beat and chorus. While it's not as textured as most other songs this month, it's still translates into a nice little chiptune.
Representing Lemmy, metal icon and Nintendo inspiration, is Motörhead's signature song, "Ace of Spades". I heard that in his final hours, Lemmy was playing a video game, although I do not know which one. I must admit, I am not the biggest fan of Motörhead, but Lemmy's presence and influence in the music world is hard to deny. He's a pretty guttural vocalist, and one helluva bass player. Furthermore, Motörhead's music is quite catchy, and you should definitely check their work out if you like hard-edged, fast-paced songs. About the song itself, I went with the rare decision of leaving every chiptuned instrument panned towards the center, just like the original song. That actually made this song very hard to get to sound right, because all of the sound waves started to sound like a mess on top of each other — I guess that's just how hardcore Motörhead's notation is.
The final musician being remembered in this tribute, is former Stone Temple Pilots vocalist, Scott Weiland. Weiland is the youngest person in this tribute, but, I can't say his death took me as an enormous surprise, mostly because he was known for frequent struggles with many hardcore drugs. These always, always take their toll on a person, whether it's at a young age, or a slightly older one like Weiland. That all having been said, Weiland's work with the group is usually full of effort. Stone Temple Pilots sometimes receive hate from critics and listeners as grunge "posers", but I'm always happy to confess my appreciation of their very unusual song structures. The song I chose to represent them, "Interstate Love Song", is a bit unlike much of the group's preceding grunge work; it sounds more like southern rock instead, thanks to the use of slide guitar during the intro and "Melissa"-esque chords in the chorus. If nothing else, I think the song has a pretty flawless melody.
That concludes this month's tribute section. I hope you familiarize yourself with these artists, or find the chiptunes a fair tribute if you already are. Next, I will be revealing the three Valentine's chiptunes for this month.
This first song is by an alternative rock group named "Garbage", although they sound like anything but. In fact, they're among my favorite female-fronted groups from the 1990s. The track in question here is actually a remix of the original version, but since it's also the most popular version of the song, I decided it was the best choice. The song's content is sultry, but dubious, coming off like "Every Breath You Take" behind the curtain. Shirley Manson basically moaning the whole song just cements that feeling. It's driven by a deep, twisting bass, that I transcribed to a raw saw wave. I didn't know chiptune bass could sound like that, but wow!
Oh man, this next track. I have been working on Steely Dan's magnum opus, "Aja", since mid-2015. I was supposed to have it done once or twice before now, but repeated hard drive failures and life issues have prevented me from completing this monstrosity until now. Widely regarded as Steely Dan's greatest song, it is an 8-minute jazz rock epic that paints a beautiful picture of escaping the aggravating expectations of life to simply be with the person you love most. It's a charming piece that has some of the most absurd chords I've come into contact with. I tested out some new techniques in this song, such as trying to get waves to naturally flange. You can hear this particular trick really prominently from around the 7:30 mark onwards.
Our third Valentine's track is by country pop sweetheart, Taylor Swift. In a genre dominated by awful and repetitive tropes, Taylor Swift stands out as someone who's doing something worthwhile that will actually be remembered by people decades down the road. Even if Miss Swift isn't bringing anything completely new to the table, she's perfecting a genre that's needed a swift (ha) kick in the butt for a long, long time. I can't even really say she's had a mediocre album, let alone a bad one. "You Belong with Me" is one of her many characteristically memorable tracks, the video for which, accidentally managed to inspire the Kanye Interrupts meme. A bit of an oddity in this particular chiptune, I decided to use a chiptune "organ" sound during the choruses. I think I've only used it once before, but, in this song's case, I found that it gave the chorus a really huge, full sound. The whole thing, if I may say so, is among the cutest chiptunes in 8-Bit Amphitheater's catalog.
Starting off in the 1990s, I decided to pick the ever-praised Ocarina of Time to represent The Legend of Zelda's 30th anniversary this month. The track I chose, "Lost Woods" (sometimes called "Saria's Theme"), was composed by Koji Kondo, whose name I'm sure we all know by now. It's an infectious little melody that fits in perfectly with the game's atmosphere. Really, I don't know what to say about this excellent game and soundtrack that has not already been said, so I'll just say this: If you have not played Ocarina of Time or one of its ports, you are doing yourself a disservice. While you're at it, play Majora's Mask, please.
Pokémon's 20th anniversary also called for some representation this month, so I decided to chiptune the fan-favorite battle theme for Cynthia, from Pokémon Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum. It is an incredibly hectic, almost disorienting, track that matches the difficulty of its respective battle quite well. Those steel drums are my favorite part of the whole song, though. Now, for some reason, the chiptune that resulted seems to sound like a Game Boy Advance track. I'm not sure how exactly that happened, but listening to it makes me very happy.
And last, but certainly not least, is that little surprise track I waited until now to mention. It's "Megalovania", from the unbelievably popular Undertale! Toby Fox composed the soundtrack for the game, and let me say, it is one of the finest game soundtracks I've heard so far this decade (off the top of my head, Bastion's OST is the only one I can think of that I enjoy more). I managed to create this track without hitting any spoilers anywhere, which made this effort even more worthwhile. Time has not been kind enough to let me play Undertale, and I know I'm going to love it, so I have been trying very hard to avoid spoilers. That said, I've listened to the OST so much, that I can assure you this remix's quality is on par with the best chiptunes I've shown you. I really hope all you Undertale fans like it!
Looks like that's everything I have to offer for this month! I'll see you all again in April with some more chiptunes. Happy listening, and I hope you enjoy the rest of The 'Shroom!
Welcome back to Mario's Boombox! In honour of the anniversaries of Pokémon and Zelda, I decided to do a Super Smash Bros.-themed song this time, settling on a song and video simply called "Smash" by Screen Team (aka Chad Nikolaus and Angie Griffin), a couple who make all sorts of nerdy YouTube music videos.
Now, the song itself isn't that amazing: the lyrics aren't particularly deep and get really repetitive later on, but it's pleasant enough to listen to, and they definitely chose a good backbeat to set it to (by Reaktor Productions). But what makes this worth recommending is the video itself. The Screen Team duo teams up with some friends and together they use 27 costumes to make a video of themselves running, miming and somersaulting around as they pretend to have a SSB fight IRL, and it's really fun to watch. My only complaint is the dearth of non-CGI Pokémon, especially since spamming Poké Balls was always my favourite part of SSB, but other than that, my main thought when watching the video is "man, that looked like it was hella fun to do - why can't all my friends be cosplay-loving nerds too?"
"Smash" is far from Screen Team's only video game video. For example, they did an original song called "Hyrule Warriors", inspired by the game Hyrule Warriors (but about the series overall). They also did a medley of popular song excerpts rewritten to be about Pokémon, including (but not limited to) "Wake Me Up", originally by Avicii, but now featuring Snorlax; Pitbull and Kesha's "Timber" transforming into "Timburr"; "Let Her Go" by Passenger as an ode to Professor Oak; and Misty riding in on a Poké Ball to the tune of "Wrecking Ball" by Miley Cyrus. The video definitely makes up for the lack of Pokémon in the SSB one, although my favourite of the costumes is probably their Team Rocket getups. They also did an earlier Pokémon video parodying a single song - "Party Rock Anthem" by LMFAO.
Closer to home, they did a funny Donkey Kong version of "Dynamite" by Taio Cruz, as well as a parody of "I Need a Doctor" by Dr. Dre (feat. Eminem and Skylar Grey), which talks about various aspects of the Mario series - not just Dr. Mario. They've done tonnes of non-Nintendo video game parody songs too, with special shout-outs to "Sonic Boom", because the dudes they got to play Sonic and Tails have mad parkour skillz, and "Bitch It's Grand Theft Auto" which includes footage of them actually driving around in a cop car, among other things. Be sure to check them out, and I'll see you next month!
This Month in Albums
G'day everyone, and welcome to the first instalment of This Month in Albums, where I run you through all the newest album releases and whether I think they're good or not. These aren't "reviews", per se, just... quick thoughts about each album. You're more than welcome to listen to them all yourselves and decide whether you like them or not, taste is subjective and I'm only the almighty musical authority on Wednesdays, so you're allowed to have your own opinions. I'll be covering every genre I possibly can because I have absolutely no chill; rock, pop, jazz, electronic, metal, punk, folk, country, experimental, hip hop, funk, soul, R&B, etc. Because I missed last month, I'll cover all of early January's album releases as well, so this'll be a bit larger than most future instalments, but if you're honestly going to complain about having more music to potentially listen to, then you're in the wrong neighbourhood, kid.
Anyway, there's really not much else to say, so get reading and maybe you'll find something you love... or hate. Either way, it'll be a fun journey!
Ah, the 30th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda is upon us. It’s been a long time since Nintendo first threw a boy wearing a sweet dress into an unforgiving world filled with rock-spitting octopi, smoke-hating lizards, and an undying wizard hell-bent on tormenting this poor boy and his girlfriend for all eternity. But here we are today, in 2016, with a new Zelda game on the way, and so I figure it’s only fitting that I go over a composer who has a big hand in the series ever since the Nintendo 64 days, Toru Minegishi! Who has also done a little bit of Pokémon on the side as well, so some honouring for that series’ 20th anniversary as well… if you’d like to see it that way, anyway.
Toru Minegishi was born sometime in 1975, although exact date or even where in Japan he lived is difficult to find. He would get his start in music at a very young age by virtue of his parents being very musical people; they would expose Minegishi to Latin music throughout his childhood, with him taking a particular fascination with the works of Pérez Prado. At the tender age of 10, he saw an advertisement for the original Legend of Zelda game and was impressed by the then-high quality audio present in clips of the game, and managed to convince his parents to buy him a Famicom system and a copy of The Legend of Zelda in exchange for him improving his swimming performance in school. However, it wasn't until he turned 11-years old when he first listened to Modest Mussorgsky's seminal orchestral piece, Pictures at an Exhibition, that he realised exactly what music could truly accomplish in a multimedia setting. This was because the symphony was written based on Mussorgsky's impressions of several paintings drawn by his friend, Viktor Hartmann, to honour his passing, which struck a chord with Minegishi's love for video games, as he believed that the same sort of musical interpretation could be applied to the games he held so dear to him. He would take up drums of his own accord, and proceed to form a band with a few of his classmates in high school, a stark contrast to many of my previous subjects who had a formal musical education in some capacity.
Continuing to experiment with various sounds and styles through high school, Minegishi-san set his sights on becoming a sound designer in video games, and he would eventually find his dream come true... with interest. He successfully applied for a compositional role at Nintendo in 1998, where he had to take up a written music design test as well as a practical exercise wherein he was required to compose multiple tracks based on themes given to him, to determine how well he could match music to the scenario. He passed the test, and was officially hired to the sound design team at Nintendo, where he would find himself under the direction of none other than his game music idol, Koji Kondo, who I have covered in an earlier issue. Imagine your first step in the industry being in the same team as the man who inspired you to pursue that field in the first place! Minegishi was eager to get to work, and got his first project that same year with Pokémon Stadium alongside his more experienced seniors in the company, Hajime Wakai and Kenta Nagata, which involved a variety of higher quality remixes of tracks from the original Generation I Pokémon games, Red, Green Blue. While this was just an arrangement project, it helped Minegishi-san develop his abilities and his ear for the deeper aspects of music composition, as well as teaching him that game music needs to strike a steady balance between being noticeable enough to enhance the experience but not so overbearing that it distracts the player, a perspective he hadn't considered before due to his experience composing music on its own beforehand.
By chance, Minegishi-san got to work with his new boss and idol, Koji Kondo, on what is now regarded one of the greatest games ever made, The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask released in 2000, which has a truly expansive soundtrack befitting of the grand epic adventure. Minegishi-san's contribution is decidedly minimal, granted; his task was to compose the three recurrent battle pieces, appropriately titled "Battle", "Middle Boss Battle", and "Boss Battle", which stood out in the minds of gamers due to their intense sound in contrast to the more docile battle themes in previous Zelda titles, employing heavy brass-style instrumentation and pounding percussion - a product of his past as a drummer. Minegishi-san would also create the now-famous start-up jingle for the Nintendo Gamecube. After these fun little diversions, Minegishi-san would get his next big project in 2001 with Shinobu Tanaka and, once again, Kenta Nagata, under the directorship of Kazumi Totaka, on the new intellectual property, Animal Crossing, which consisted of a whopping 199 tracks in total. The goal for the sound design was to create an acoustic-sounding score with a doofy, synth-based sound, and Totaka-san set about this ambitious task by allocating different projects to each of his three staff members; in Minegishi-san's case, he was tasked with a few of the indoor pieces, but in particular, was tasked with the creation of K.K. Slider's different solo pieces, which amounted to around 50 completely different styles of music. This was a hugely daunting task for Minegishi-san, as he was being asked to make dopey synth versions of genres he hadn't the faintest understanding of, which forced him to hit the books and whatever supplies of music he could find to be able to effectively translate their sound to the keyboard sound required of Animal Crossing. It's hard to find individual pieces from the original game, so just start from this time stamp.
But Minegishi-san isn't just a musical mind; indeed, he was also adept at designing and creating sound effects as well, which would become most notable on his next projects, Super Mario Sunshine in 2002. Here, he learned a lot about the complexity of the sound design process and developed a better understanding of the methods that work best for him, personally, when creating music and sound effects, specifically that he works best humming melodies to himself or fiddling with his guitar to create tunes and sounds. He identifies the K.K. Slider tracks in Animal Crossing and his involvement in the sound design of Super Mario Sunshine to be two of the most important learning experiences in his early career. Next on Minegishi-san's to-do list would be The Legend of Zelda's critically acclaimed debut into the sixth generation of video games released that same year, Wind Waker, which saw Minegishi-san and his collaborators - Kenta Nagata, Hajime Wakai, and of course his boss, mentor, and idol, Koji Kondo - experimenting with live instrumentation and more sophisticated sounds, in particular, the usage of Irish instrumentation such as Tinwhistle, Uileann pipes, and Mandolin (played by none other than Shigeru Miyamoto), as well as Aztec instrumentation, in particular usage of the Pan flute. The music for Wind Waker was popular enough to be released as an expansive, two-disc CD with over 130 tracks on it.
After this, Toru Minegishi would continue to work on sound design for games such as Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour and Mario Pinball Land, as well as assisting in the score for Yoshi Touch & Go alongside Kazumi Totaka and Asuka Ohta. His next massive project wouldn't spin around until 2006, where he would be tasked as the lead composer for The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess with assistance from Asuka Ohta, with Koji Kondo once again operating as his supervisor on the project. This was Minegishi-san's first foray into the realm of audio direction in the company, and proved a whole new experience for him as he now had to communicate and get involved with all the other aspects of the development team to get a better idea of which direction to take the music, and then he would need to relay that information to his superior, Kondo-san. With the darker, more melancholy atmosphere being explored in Twilight Princess, Minegishi-san and Kondo-san wanted to be careful to balance mood and atmosphere with catchiness and noticeability, knowing well that the sound direction of Zelda games has always been a major selling point for the emotional impact of the franchise; Koji Kondo initially envisioned a massive orchestral score with lyrical performances, but dropped the idea in favour of sequenced music due to his view that orchestral music "wasn't interactive enough". Still doesn't explain with this is allowed to exist, tho.
Not long after Twilight Princess, Toru Minegishi would be brought on to the development team of Wii Fit as part of the music design team alongside Manaka Tominaga and Shiho Fujii. This would be an amusing coincidence for Minegishi since he was interested in working on a project involving body balance, due in large part to his background as a drummer, which requires a lot of body balance and coordination in order to play; no one actually knew about his deep fascination with this side of music theory, however, so his involvement with Wii Fit was described by Satoru Iwata as destiny. As opposed to Twilight Princess, which required a more direct, noticeable approach to the music design, Wii Fit was designed to be as behind-the-scenes and ambient as possible, due in large part to the repetitive nature of the game, which could potentially lead to more complex song structures growing old and frustrating very quickly. Toru Minegishi would also work on the scores for both The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass and The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks as among the primary composers, as well as contributing a live guitar melody to the track "Ballad of the Goddess" in The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. Minegishi-san would also be involved in the composition for Super Mario 3D World released in 2013, alongside his colleagues Yasuaki Iwata and Koji Kondo, headed by Mahito Yokota, a soundtrack which employed a full live orchestration mixed in with electronics, following up their move into live, organic music with Super Mario Galaxy back in 2007. However, unlike Galaxy, 3D World was geared towards jazz-y big band music as opposed to bombastic symphonies, giving the score a far more doofy sound to it.
The most recent of Minegishi-san's contributions has been Splatoon, the only game in the world where you can be a kid now, and a squid now, which saw him take the reins as the lead sound director once again, working with Shiho Fujii as his subordinate. With the very 90s "cool kid" aesthetic of the game, Minegishi-san thought to structure the soundtrack primarily around various forms of techno, hip hop and punk music that were widely popular at that time, with Minegishi-san dividing the music between the two races present in the game - punk for the playable squids, techno for the enemy Octarians... for the most part, anyway Toru Minegishi wanted to reflect the attitude of the world shown in Splatoon, seeking to replicate the sense of carefree spirit present in the character designs and environments by adding that extra bit of power and edge to the music; this can definitely be seen in the Squid Sisters' theme and the Splatfest music, which is styled after glamourous, energetic late-90s bubblegum pop, and the three-part final boss music, which employs a heavy use of record scratches and acoustic sections not unlike hip hop and drum and bass music that were so prominent in the 1990s, which were written to be in rhythm with the motions performed to make wasabi, as a reference to the boss's original design as a wasabi chef. Don't... ask, the original draft for this game was bloody weird.
What's next in store for Toru Minegishi? Honestly, I'm not sure! We have no confirmation on any future projects that Minegishi-san may be a part of, nor are we seeing any concerts happening any time soon, given he's a member of Nintendo's in-house band, The Wind Wakers. It's a waiting game and this point to see how he'll follow up his squiddy adventures, and who knows, maybe we'll see him return to The Legend of Zelda with the new open-world game hopefully being released sometime later this year, although we can't say for certain yet. Or perhaps he'll choose to work on another project himself, which would mark the first time he's composed a score without the collaboration of other composers. The world is his oyster, and I know that Zelda fans in particular will be excited to see him get back on the saddle once more and