Archive for February, 2009

Let the Beat… Drop

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on February 19, 2009 by geminibros

If this blog were my significant other, she would have left me days ago. Thankfully, it’s just a jumble of code that remains completely inert until I start monkeying with it. And though said monkeying has been pretty absent recently, I’m here to remedy that now.

Let’s talk cross-media synergy, but in a good way. Tie-ins don’t always have to suck. Games like The Godfather and Scarface: The World is Yours provided younger folks with an interactive entry point to some classic works of Cinema. The Riddick juggernaut even now continues to throw light on predecessor Pitch Black. And Bratz… ah… well that one’s kind of offensive. But hey, it takes all kinds.

Rhythm games are another beast entirely. A beast that had until recently cranked amps to 11 and trashed hotel rooms in the guise of Guitar Hero and Rock Band, at least for the bulk of the gaming audience (see also: Beatmania). Now, the child of that beast’s incestuous relationship with its own parents is coming to get your head bobbing and your hand thrown up. DJ Hero and Scratch: The Ultimate DJ aren’t blazing the trail for turntable rhythm games, but they’re definitely being designed with a more Western audience in mind.

First, I want to direct you to Leigh Alexander’s Gamasutra interview with game development veep for Genius Products (Scratch’s publisher), Mike Rubinelli. There’s some good information in there, much of it very encouraging for a turntable junkie like me to read. Loving the idea of a more freestyle-centric approach.

UPDATE: Here’s another great Scratch interview from Destructoid’s Nick Chester. This one is with Dan Lehirich, the game’s designer and creative lead. The mores I sees, the mores I likes.

I’ve got no problem with getting big names in there, folks like Kanye, Beastie Boys and others who are backed by great production. Doesn’t matter if it’s games or records, a name sells. As a lover of hip hop turntablism though, I’m more interested in seeing who gets picked up under the radar. They’re off to a good start, with development apparently being presided over by Quincy Jones III and Beastie scratch artist Mix Master Mike.

Which brings me back to the point of today’s post. I love the idea of games exposing people to areas of entertainment they might have otherwise missed. Reading the Rubinelli interview got me thinking about all of this fantastic music which would be a blast to play in the game. So I’m going to share some of it with you.

Just imagine a rhythm bar superimposed onto this:

That’s from Wave Twisters, DJ Q-Bert’s animated sci-fi flick. Here’s the cover. Mix Master Mike was involved with it. Yeah, you need to see it.

wavetwisters

Or how about either of these?

No embeds allowed; here’s the first link and here’s the second.

DJ Shadow’s got a pretty sizable following, but I’d hardly call him mainstream. The first track is from his breakout album, Endtroducing…. The second is from the first U.N.K.L.E. album, Psyence Fiction, a collaboration between Shadow and producer James Lavelle. “Rabbit in your Headlights” was pretty big, thanks largely to Thom Yorke’s involvement. Beastie Mike D was involved with that project too you know.

This last one is among my personal favorites. DJ Shadow finds his roots in the Left Coast-based Quannum label (check it here too), which bred the likes of Gift of Gab, Lyrics Born, Lateef the Truth Speaker… a whole mess of ridiculously talented mic rockers, table-turners and beatcrafters. This here video is Lyrics Born’s “I Changed My Mind.” Kickass stuff. Embeddable too. Woo.

Enjoy the noise y’all. Who knows whether any of this will appear in those upcoming turntable games, but it sure would warm this beat-lover’s heart to fake-scratch along with Xcel. And if the game actually lets us scratch the scratches… whoa… that idea was so Meta it made my nose bleed.

Okay, I’ll leave you with two more vids: a slickly produced blues-with-beats from Nu-Mark and Pomo – great album from that collaboration, Blend Crafters – and some straight, raw talent to drop your jaws. Dragonforce, Buckethead… eat your hearts out.

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The Super Bowl Commercials Game

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on February 2, 2009 by geminibros

sundancetixramblings

Whew, it’s been a busy couple of weeks. First there was Sundance, which was a blast. I took it easy for my second trip to Park City, seeing only 20 films in the space of four and a half days. I kept meaning to set aside time for some Ramblings after I got home, but was continually sidetracked by a top secret project which consumed most of the week.

I’m back now though, overstuffed after a binge-filled Super Bowl Sunday. Through yesterday’s haze of an exciting football game and an even more exciting array of grilled meats, I made a somewhat disconcerting observation.

There was nary a single video game commercial.

The closest we got was Coca Cola’s “Avatar” ad, another direct nod to the Gamer Generation (remember last year’s GTA-style ad):

It’s not anything new of course. A search through the videos filed away at Superbowl Ads reveals that there hasn’t been a proper game-related Super Bowl ad since before 1998, which is where the database starts. The closest we’ve gotten is this memorable Sony/PlayStation 2 ad from 2001:

Considering that advertising time during the Super Bowl runs in the multiple millions per 30 seconds, publishers may not feel comfortable shelling out when they’re really only going to appeal to a fraction of the audience. The success of the Wii has altered the paradigm somewhat, but selling Wii Fit to a room full of crazed, drunken football fans would be an exercise in futility. Though Sega missed a good opportunity I think; MadWorld would definitely have caught the attention of game-friendly dads who get no use out of their kid’s Wii sitting right below the TV screen.

I’m surprised at the lack of a gaming presence every year, but this time around it seems to resonate more than usual. There are some big ticket titles coming in the next two months. Huge ones, like Sony hype monster Killzone 2, game-turned-movie-turned-multimedia franchise tie-in Resident Evil 5 and vintage juggernaut revival Street Fighter IV. That last one especially: put a flashy new Street Fighter in front of any 30-something you can find, and there’s a strong chance you’ll get be a highly favorable response. Street Fighter II was the Pac-Man of its generation, after all.

Considering that the current state of the economy drives consumers to seek more cost-effective means of entertainment, yesterday’s Super Bowl seemed like it would have been the perfect moment for the video game industry to pounce. To me at least. What do you lot think? Are game publishers smart to steer clear of Super Bowl ad time?