What’s up squad, Frosty Phenix Here! I know this quarantine has folks going a little stir crazy with no ending in sight. We here at Phucaname have also been taking our time to catch up on gaming, anime and movies to keep us entertained in this trying time. One of the things that hit me is that certain game tracks are stuck in my head due to their use as far as storytelling or story progression. I challenged myself and the team to think of 5 GAME TRACKS (in no particular order) between us that had us in our feels and mind spaces...thinking about life and all that other deep stuff. Let's get started!
Frosty Phenix’s Top 5
In Your Belief
Game: Asura’s Wrath
Composer: Chikayo Fukuda
(Vocal Version sung by Tomoyo Mitani)
Reason: Instrumental pieces carry a certain type of emotion with them. With “Asura’s Wrath”, a game about a fallen God whose wife was murdered and daughter kidnapped by the very people he once called comrade...who then also tried to kill him...yeah I see why it’s called Asura’s Wrath. But in the midst of his pain, an instrumental piece definitely conveys the heaviness of his pain past just a “HULK SMASH” fury...but more of an emotional driven rage (Don’t get me wrong, he still rages all the way out and gets his sweet sweet revenge). This track, being the game’s Main Score, puts me in a mindspace to strive for what you feel and believe in...against all odds. The game is available on the PS3 and through the PS Now Subscription.
Game: Kingdom Hearts II
Composer: Yoko Shimamura
Vocals: Hikaru Utada
Link: Passion (Original/Japanese Version): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kT-YtuzNqIY ;
Sanctuary (English Version): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTUq3Ik1GHM;
“After the Battle” End Version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ILrb76PNGIk
Reason: What can I say about this (these) tracks other than they CARRIED ME THROUGH that adventure with so much “Passion” that I beat the game MORE than 10 times JUST to hear the End Composition. According to the Wiki (Yes, Wikipedia), both tracks serve as the successor to "Hikari"/”Simple and Clean”, which is the Main Title theme for the prequel game “Kingdom Hearts”. Another quote from the Wiki, “The conception of the two tracks were to emphasize a "dusk"-like vibe to the game, in comparison to "Hikari" which she described as the "dawn". Musically, "Passion" has been described by music commentators as a multi-genre tune, noting elements of alternative rock, ambient and "ethereal" music. The song's lyrics delve into themes of nostalgia, and discuss the circumstances of past, present and future.” I honestly couldn't have said it better myself. These tracks definitely continued to hammer away at the perceived notion that “video game music is corny” while also bringing Japanese Music and Culture into the spotlight for American Consumers. Both "Passion" and "Sanctuary" were successful worldwide, due to its success with Kingdom Hearts II; by March 2007, the English adaption of the game sold over four million units worldwide...that’ 4 Million PLUS fans of the game and her song, not to mention those that just love Utada as a singer and performer. This Song will ALWAYS mean so much to me because of the nostalgia which I as I read...was intentional. The story is expansive and hard to summarize in the space I have given myself SO feel free to experience the game in its current Kingdom Hearts 2.5 REMIX for PS3, PS4 and Xbox One.
Game: Destiny (Taken King Content Download)
Composer(s): Michael Salvatori, C Paul Johnson & Skye Lewin
Reason: Destiny 1 will always hold a special place in my heart (and most of my 20’s lol) as it was Bungie’s first Post Halo series. The original game theme definitely holds a place in its history but “Regicide”, the theme for the game’s 3rd Expansion brought urgency to the impending threat that this new antagonist of the game presented. This theme served as not only the main theme of the title screen but also the music that played during the first and final boss battle with the expansion’s boss, Oryx The Taken King. It brought the ominous presence of Oryx to life and I’m definitely giving a shout out to the composers for the feeling it brings me to this day when I hear that first horn section begin. In hearing this theme, I was always ready to take on “The Taken King”. Destiny 1 is available on all platforms.
Shall Never Surrender/The Time Has Come
Game: Devil May Cry 4
Composer: Tetsuya Shibata
Song Writer/Singer: Jason "Shyboy" Arnold
Who doesn’t love a good rock medley to slay demons to? I KNOW I DO! It brings out the “Son of Sparda” in me. The Devil May Cry Series is known for engaging rock inspired music to carry you through the game. Devil May Cry 4 was the new addition to the series after about 3 years since the previous title “Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening”. Shall Never Surrender starts off with the upbeat rock medley I mentioned before that delivers blood pumping action, but then half way through the song it transitions to a slower synth melody with drums that promotes warm feelings and a happy ending of sorts. You don’t hear that full version until the end of the game so the transition makes sense. They use the beginning 2 minutes or so of Shall Never Surrender in a loop during the character Nero’s Battles, calling that track “The Time Has Come”. The way the game was promoted and delivered, the song definitely brought in the new protagonist to the series, Nero, with positive light and commentary by gamers and fans of the hack and slash shooter. Devil May Cry 4 “Special Edition” is available on all gaming platforms.
The End Begins
Game: God of War 2 (2007)
Composer(s): Gerard K. Marino, Ron Fish, Mike Reagan, and Cris Velasco
Ah the Greek God Killing Avenger himself. “The End Begins” is the main theme to God of War II (2), the sequel to it’s Game of the Year Award winning prequel, “God of War”. God of War 2 follows Kratos’ short reign as God of War after slaying the former title holder, Ares. Short reign being that Zeus grows fearful and paranoid of the new God and through a sequence in the first part of the game takes away the very powers he had bestowed upon him and then kills him and sends him on a one way trip to tartarus. However with the interference of Gaia, the Titan of Earth, Kratos escapes his fate and goes through the game seeking revenge on Zeus and changing his fate to die at the hands of Zeus. In doing my research for this title, it never dawned on me that the main theme was being sung in GREEK and that the words translated to the VERY PURPOSE and MISSION of Kratos in this game. This song brought me the very rage and determination to help Kratos through his journey for revenge (and JUSTIFIED REVENGE AT THAT). It always put me in a strong mode of “Greek God Slayer” whenever the theme ran as I perused the menu options. God of War 2 is SONY EXCLUSIVE and available on PS2, PS3 and PS VITA.
Wav3yGawd’s Top 5
Game: Kingdom Hearts II
Composer: Yoko Shimamura
Vocals: Hikaru Utada
Reason: Being that I only played a little bit of Kingdom Hearts II (special thanks to my cousin) and not the whole game, you would think I wouldn’t know this song, but it comes up a lot in the gaming community and a specific rap song sampled this track in 2012, the song is called “Sanctuary” by French Montana and I remember hearing the beginning of the song and just thinking to myself, “HEY! THIS IS SANCTUARY FROM KINGDOM HEARTS II!” I was surprised that the producer that made the song (Black Metaphor) even knew about the track enough to sample it and made a nice song to it, you can listen to the song below
Other than that, the song by itself has a very calming feel and vibe to it and it is the TRUE definition of hitting you in the feels when you sit down and just listen to the lyrics and the soothing voice Utada has on the record, it’s just lovely.
It Has to Be This Way
Game: Metal Gear Rising Revengeance
Composer: Logan Mader & Jamie Christopherson
Vocals: Jimmy Gnecco
Reason: I played Metal Gear Rising Revengeance a couple years after it came out and I loved all the combat and once I learned the parry system this game became that much more fun for me! Now the soundtrack was nice but the final boss fight makes you utilize everything you learned in the game and the music in the background as you fight was great! It was a nice little rock song called “It Has to Be This Way” and to me the song's instruments really gets to me and the way it is just put together, and the lyrics really fit the beat to me. Also the song just reminds me of a great fight from a game I thoroughly enjoyed.
Live and Learn
Game: Sonic Adventure 2/Sonic Adventure 2 Battle
Composer: Johnny Gioeli & Jun Senoue
Vocals: Johnny Gioeli
Reason: The year is 2001, I got my Nintendo GameCube earlier that year and one of the games I had my eye on at that time was Sonic Adventure 2 Battle. Once I got my hands on that game and popped it in my GameCube and got to the title screen I instantly liked it! The whole soundtrack was great but with “Live and Learn” it was the first song you heard and I know random times in the crib I wouldn’t mind if I was on the title menu for a long time because the beat would loop many times and every time I loved it even more. It wasn’t until a few years later in my adult years that I actually heard the full song and the lyrics just honestly connected with me, the chorus alone stood out to me
“Live and Learn, hanging on the edge of tomorrow, Live and Learn, from the works of yesterday, Live and Learn if you beg or if you borrow, Live and Learn, you may never find your way” , if that isn’t feeling, I don’t know what is!
Game: Mario Kart 64
Composer: Kenta Nagata
Reason: Everyone had Mario Kart 64 as a kid, either playing against the computer or going to a friends house and playing with 4 people. The items and the stages made that game great but the music put it over the edge. The music for “Rainbow Road” to me was by far the best track. I thought the music fit the way the board looked perfectly, I can’t explain it but with the way the road looked and how the characters were in the background it just fit. And the way the music was laid out, it just hits my feelings a little different. Probably one of the better video gaming songs in my opinion. Smooth McGroove is a YouTuber who makes video game theme songs using only himself as the instruments and the song himself. He made a version of it and I absolutely love it. Check it out below if you haven’t already.
Pollyana (I Believe in You)
Game: MOTHER / Super Smash Bros. Melee
Composer: Keiichi Suzuki
Vocals: Catherine Warwick
Link: https://youtu.be/vBbRJoHTJAM (MOTHER)
https://youtu.be/Ij0HptqoBxI (Super Smash Bros. Melee)
Reason: Even though I didn’t play the original game this song came from, I know about this song because of my favorite game of all time which is Super Smash Bros. Melee. I stumbled upon this song one day at work and I loved how the song was put together, and this was just the instrumental version that was in Melee, once I found out this was an actual song I immediately looked for it and I am pretty sure I kept it on repeat for a good 30 minutes. From time to time now I will even still find that song on YouTube and search for the extended version because I love it that much. Once I figured out how to play this song in Melee within the Onett stage (by pressing the “x” button when you select the stage), every time I pick that stage now I never play there unless I select that song. The song is also in all the other Super Smash Bros. games but I just so happen to remember it in Melee.
Cornered Fox’s Top 5
Game: Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
Composer: Norihiko Hibino
Vocals: Cynthia Harrel
Reason: This song set the stage for what became one of the biggest Metal Gear Solid games to date. The intention with this song was to give certain dramatic, James Bond style vibes to the game and they did so wonderfully with this. The song is played both during a graphical intro, and also at a pivotal point in the game - both which draw out a immense feeling after being engaged. One of the best!
Don’t Think Twice & Face My Fears
Game: Kingdom Hearts III
Artist: Hikaru Utada
Reason: One of the biggest pulls and draws of Kingdom Hearts at this stage, is the original songs from singer-songwriter Hikaru Utada, who has graced us with gems like “Sanctuary” and “Simple and Clean”. That said, when Kingdom Hearts 3 released, they came with two amazingly emotional and incredibly vocalized tracks that symbolize hope, joy, and perseverance. The nostalgia keeps the past songs high in my mind, but these two are a great addition to her already impressive set!
Lunar: The Silver Star (Sega CD) Opening Theme
Game: Lunar: The Silver Star
Composer(s): Noriyuki Iwadare, Hiroshi Fujioka, Isao Mizoguchi, and Yoshiaki Kubodera
Reason: I came upon the soundtrack from this game and its sequels from a good friend of mine, and boy are they great. I highly recommend the soundtrack for Lunar: The Silver Star and it’s sequel, Lunar 2. This tune is an upbeat, ready to battle-esque theme that gets you in the mood to play an old school JRPG. This one will stay close to the chest for a while.
Sonic Heroes: Opening Theme Song
Game: Sonic Heroes
Artists: Jun Senoue & Johnny Gioeli
Reason: Sonic Heroes was one of the better Sonic games this generation, and while the many memorable songs come from the wondrous zones, this is one of the few openings that really resonates with me. It’s an up-tempo tune that seems to match Sonic and the other heroes as they make haste to complete missions. This is staying in rotation!
The Weight of the World
Game: NieR: Automata
Artist: Keiichi Okabe
Reason: This song evokes a sense of wonder, and the vocals seemingly take you through the journey of this wonderful game. At the same time, when listened to while reading a book on a rainy, quarantined afternoon, this song is an uplifting hero tale of sorts. The pairing with the game was a phenomenal one, I’d highly recommend both to anyone.
These are our gaming tracks that hit us! What about yours?! Let us know! This has been Frosty Phenix with this latest story update! Be sure to follow me across all platforms @frostyphenix! Until next time Squad, Peace!