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.
Or how about either of these?
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.