Composer Compendium: Hitoshi Sakimoto Chapter 2

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Alongside Radiant Silvergun Sakimoto composed the arcade shooter Armed Police Batrider before moving over to the Nintendo 64 for Ogre Battle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber, working with the Quest Trio alongside Hayato Matsuo and longtime colleague Masaharu Iwata in the following year, rounding out the 20th century. The new millenium started with a bang, with a solo composition for the much beloved game Vagrant Story.

The follow up to Vagrant Story included Iwata and Sakimoto composing the soundtrack for Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis, a solo composition for Kuusen, and then moving onto Legaia 2: Duel Saga with Yasunori Mitsuda and Michiru Oshima. Next was Tekken Advance before he got to work with Capcom on Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter. At about this time Sakimoto, Iwata, and Manabu Namiki founded their own company called Basiscape, which has grown into the largest company of freelance composers.

In 2003 Sakimoto worked with Squaresoft once again on the long awaited follow up to Final Fantasy Tactics, FFT Advance for the Game Boy Advance. He got the chance to work with Ayako Saso, Kaori Ohkoshi, and the legendary Nobuo Uematsu on this project. The next year he worked with Treasure and Konami on Gradius V, then on Stella Deus for Atlus along with Iwata. With is Basiscape crew he helped compose the Cave shooter Mushihimesama, making 2004 a busy year.

His schedule let up a bit in 2005, but then kicked into full gear in 2006. For the former year Basiscape composed Wizardry Gaiden: Prisoners of the Battles, Bleach: Heat the Soul 2, and Zoids: Full Metal Clash. By now many of the games would be credited to the quickly growing Basiscape. In the latter year the list just gets longer, with the Basiscape credits including Monster Kingdom: Jewel Summoner, Digimon Battle Terminal, Digimon World Beta Squad, Battle Stadium D.O.N., and Fantasy Earth: Zero. Last but certainly not least was his contribution to the soundtrack of Final Fantasy XII along with the rest of the Quest Trio, Taro Hasuke, Yuji Toriyama, and Uematsu once again!

Basiscape continued to get many contracts in 2007, and Sakimoto is credited on Bleach: Heat the Soul 4, GrimGrimoire, Odin Sphere, Opoona, Deltora Quest, and continued with his Final Fantasy compositions with Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings, the PSP FFT remake War of the Lions, and the sequel to FF Tactics Advance, Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift. His days beyond the PS2, GBA, and PSP would include the PS3 instant classic Valkyria Chronicles in 2008.

This year would continue with some different games that Basiscape worked on. The Wizard of Oz: Beyond the Yellow Brick Road for the DS was one of them, along with Elminage, and Coded Soul. The following year saw the company work on Elminage II, Tekken 6, Lord of Vermillion II, and Muramasa: The Demon Blade.

2010 saw a return of the old, as well as some newer faces in Sakimoto’s life. Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together was remastered and re-released for the PSP late in the year. But there was also Lord of Arcana that he worked on with Uematsu, and Valkyria Chronicles II as a solo effort. Valkyria Chronicles III released in the following year along with Rikishi: Legend of Paper Wrestling.

I want this game translated so bad.

Most recently he has worked on games such as Dragon’s Crown, Crimson Shroud, and The Denpa Men series. An upcoming game with his compositions listed is Unsung Story: Tale of the Guardians.


Video Game Confessionals: Chrono Cross Part 2

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Serge and Kid steamroll their way through the Fossil Valley, meeting Solt and Peppor once again. These guys aren’t even funny. They’re just stupid henchmen. Think of the dumbest henchmen you could imagine and make them even more incompetent. We might be getting close to Solt and Peppor. Adonis in Disgaea was a more effective recurring boss, at least he is enjoyable and fits the mood of the game. They’re easily dispatched using the best battle strategy so far, mash attack and keep doing it, never stop once except to maybe heal.

Once in Termina the group of two explore, find some random guy polishing the statue of the current leader. The only statue we can even find. Huh. Serge and Kid keep trying to find their way around the city, eventually running into some stairs off to the West of the entrance and finding some people mentioning Nikki. You should have heard a little bit about him all the way back before the time/universe warp jump event. Whatever it was that happened.

There’s this dancer Miki that should walk inside after talking to the one random man in this room. It looks like a changing room, or close to it with the other two dancer girls in here. Miki, another person the player should have heard about by now, walks in talking about getting into the Shadow Forest because Nikki went there. There’s a random NPC that mentions this big tree where rare mushrooms can grow, then a secret entrance into the Viper Manor.

Whoa whoa whoa keep it in your pants.

Basically, the writing here is pretty solid. There’s plenty of information going around that goes back to after the waking and before the jump. Just like Breath of Fire; again I’m mentioning this series, which started 2 years before Chrono Trigger released, a few lines can be found referencing both sides of the world.

Anyway, in the Shadow Forest we find Nikki on the 2nd screen. Well that is quite anticlimactic.  That’s like finding the holy grail after wiping your feet on the rug. He claims to be singing to some monster, you’re behind him so he really doesn’t know you’re there. THIS IS A GUNS N’ ROSES RIP OFF. Sweet sister of mine? That’s one word from a lawsuit. Given Axl Rose’s history he probably would have eagerly jumped on the opportunity to sue what was the most influential RPG developer and publisher in existence at this time.

Of course attacking a monster with a rock frontman voice does nothing, they’re already dancing in their own, strange way that our puny human minds cannot understand. There’s another mystery in this area, the green jelly things in the area that shock the crap out of Link. On the next screen we find Nikki once more and he ends up being cornered by a group of Dragoons. Of course you save him, the game wouldn’t progress if you didn’t. Then he takes a shower and you’re off once again.

You can only follow this path that he just took. Nikki wears lipstick. This is supposed to be a man, and he makes Robert Plant look like Attila the Hun. Anyway he finally joins and we can get past this giant, sleeping, carnivorous dandelion by taking one of the berries from the big Pokemon Gold and Silver berry plants and luring one of the big green jellies out to the giant dandelion. I managed to get Nikki to smash his guitar over this evil plant’s head for the final strike of the battle. It was exactly how I would want a The Who concert to end.

Nikki’s long lost cousin.

So, we get to meet our favorite friends Solt and Peppor once again. What am I like 2 hours in and this is our 3rd fight? Was Squaresoft already becoming this devoid of ideas for bosses? Even Zoah, the real boss here acknowledges their horrible attempts at comedy, yelling at them in ALL CAPS TO GET THE POINT ACROSS. Tweedle Dumb and Dumber go down in two attacks, they’re pretty much worthless and only serve as a continued tutorial for Elements in case you haven’t already figured this incredibly difficult and confusing mechanic out yet.

I wasn’t paying attention and Zoah knocked Nikki out. Serge landed a pretty sexy crit to put Zoah in his place and insert his own blue haired self as the dominant male in the forest today.

Video Game Confessionals: Chrono Cross Part 1

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I’ve never played Chrono Cross. Well, now I am. But, I’ve never played it before for very long. I rented it once, maybe got a couple hours in, but I remember absolutely nothing about it. At all. Hell starting this new game makes me realize how much I could have missed out on. So this will be a spoiler laden analysis of the game as I play through it. I wanted to start writing about games I started playing in the hopes that I would actually finish them, especially since my collection is RPG heavy with many that I’ve recently picked up, but never played.

Chrono Cross starts off by throwing you in a dungeon. Why? I don’t know, you’re just there with Kid. Could this be Serge and Kid’s beginning romance? It ends quite abruptly and the player finds himself… in an almost mirror image of the beginning of Chrono Trigger. Serge’s mom, who is actually named, Marge, wakes her son up. This feels exactly like Trigger, complete with cat.

Memories. I’m having them.

So you explore the town you’re in, Arni Vilage, and are eventually lead to learn the basics of combat through the village chief Radius, who is a freaking badass! He’s a 70 year old man that can still almost hit for triple digits. After (or before depending on how you play) Serge goes off to meet his childhood sweetheart Leena at the pier. She sends Serge off to go get some Komodo Dragon scales at Lizard Rock. Why? Because women love shiny jewelry and you will never question it, I better start stashing some money away for ‘I’m sorry’ diamonds.

So some weird events begin to transpire quite quickly after you make it through Lizard Rock and get all the Komodo Dragon scales. These monsters look absolutely nothing like Komodo Dragons for the record, those would be much more intimidating, stalking closer to you, the biggest lizard on Earth. Longer than you are tall, beady eyes looking into your soul, tongue flicking out to remind you of the close relationship between lizards and snakes, drooling a deadly toxin laden saliva. These beasts can easily take a man down.

So Serge makes his way to the beach past Lizard Rock, Leena gets there, somehow. I don’t know how she gets there but she does. Its like Serge gets knocked out by some strange, fate driven power. I’m only a half hour into this game but given the sheer amount of times they have mentioned the word ‘fate’ and the whole idea behind it, I’m pretty sure the entire game is going to be based off of this. Oh well, better than friendship.

When Serge wakes up he finds the beach he was on is now empty, not even Leena is there anymore. This is where Chrono Trigger mixes together with the Breath of Fire series. For those that have played CT, CC, and at least one of the BOF games knows exactly what I’m talking about. For those that haven’t, here’s the scoop. There’s this entire idea behind the multiverse, alternate time lines thing that both of these series put an emphasis on. None of these games specify exactly which one it is but it is basically these ideas.

So Serge goes right back to Arni Village, where he apparently died 10 years ago by drowning, Marge followed in death shortly afterwards. Leena does not recognize you, Radius is gone and another, much weaker chief is in charge. Leena does slightly recognize Serge though and points him in the direction of the little boy’s grave, Cape Howl in the North.

This grave is on the very edge of the cape, it doesn’t even look deep enough to bury any dead body, let alone safe enough to safely dig out period. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN? Is erosion this fast in this world? Did 10 years of wind and treacherous waters blow out 30 feet of cliff right beneath this grave? I’ll just chock this up to one of those random ‘doesn’t-make-any-sense’ small details that is not the overall focus of the game.

That’s the grave’s official artwork. I wish I was kidding.

Anyway, Serge is approached by some random Dragoons including Karsh, Solt, and Peppor (ITS A PUN!). Kid shows up for the first time since that random dungeon in the beginning and helps you school these punks. Once this business is finished Serge and Kid move back to Arni to rest for the night, then hike up to Termina in the North.

Mitsuda’s music is once again awesome.

PSP Farewell Part 1 of 2

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With the recent release of Sony’s new Vita there are many out there who are ditching their PSP and the many games and UMDs available for the once lukewarm selling system. So while many are saying farewell to their PSP and personal library I am saying ‘Hello!’ to the world of Sony handhelds. Why is that? I only recently picked up a PSP and a handful of cheap games the same night, only about a month ago. So here are some reasons why another collector should be saying ‘Hello’ to this system as well!

First point: Timing

There is no better time to set your sights on a new system than shortly after it is deemed obsolete and the general public has a shiny new toy that is trending to talk about. Because everybody is offloading their PSP and games in lieu of the Vita’s ability to download some games then it means the market is being flooded with fresh, new titles that will hopefully soon make it to everybody’s favorite haunts. This means prices are dropping for all but the most coveted and sought after titles. From here on out, we will be talking about some of the big marks for a collector of physical media and why the PSP should not be ignored.

Second Point: Imports

The PSP is region free, just like its brothers the PS3 and Vita, so there are many reasons an importer will find this system friendly. I am just entering the realm of importing, and I am also a fan of the Suikoden series, so the system already offers me at least one personal title to pursue as I fill in the rest of the small holes in my own personal collection of that series.

Genso Suikoden I & II

Genso Suikoden: Tsumugareshi Hyakunen no Toki

There are a few other reasons for the import friendly RPG fan to be excited about the PSP library. For example a remake of Breath of Fire III was released in Japan and the EU, so it is perfectly friendly for any BoF fan that only speaks English to go after the EU version of the game. Other options include Sega’s Shining Hearts, Valkyria Chronicles III, Falcom’s Zwei!, Namco’s Tales of Eternia and the quirky Nendoroid Generation. If you know what a Nendoroid is then you should have an idea of what to expect. There are also quite a few options for the fan of the good old Shoot ’em Up, with Taito’s Dariusburst topping my list of desires. A remake of R-Type is available from Japan and Europe’s PSN to add to the list,

A vast majority of import options are based on the most popular anime in the Land of the Rising Sun, and as such can be just what you expect, or maybe even worse than that.

Valkyria Chronicles 3


Third Point: Remakes/Re-releases

Right here is where the PSP library will shine for any fan of Japanese developed, console RPGs, and where I will have a hard time even starting the list!

Atlus starts with an A so I might as well mention that Personas 1-2 were completely remade, graphics and sound were upgraded to make use of the PSP’s superior capabilities. Persona 2: Innocent Sin was also released for the very first time in English on this system! I’m proud to say the collector’s edition of that game was one of the first ones I grabbed. Eternal Punishment is currently in the works from Atlus, no word yet on if it will come across the Pacific. Both 1 and Innocent Sin had soundtrack’s released in a collector’s edition for North America. Persona 3 was also ported, however it is more recent and the upgrades were given to the combat system to make it function like Persona 4’s, but story was cut out that was in the PS2’s FES edition. Where’s Persona 4 you ask? Well its being re-released on the Vita, so this trend looks like it will continue, at least from Atlus. Outside of Persona the great Atlus also re-released the cult-favorite Game Boy Advance title Riviera: The Promised Land.

Capcom has the aforementioned Breath of Fire III re-release to check out if you wish to import a copy from Europe.

Falcom remade and re-released Ys 1 and 2 in a collection called Ys I and II Chronicles. I can say with experience that these are some fun games to play if you just want to run around and grind mindlessly. Button free combat, Peter Molyneux must be completely jealous that Falcom did that in 1987! The collector’s edition came with a soundtrack and this is one series that certainly deserves it! More Falcom re-releases include entries in The Legend of Heroes series. I personally have not grabbed any of these yet, but Trails in the Sky has been tempting me.

Game Arts also threw their hat into the RPG remake ring by releasing Lunar: Silver Star Harmony. If you have been wanting to experience the first Lunar but do not want to shell out a pretty penny for either the Sega CD or PS1 release then I would go for this one!

And last but not least (maybe for their newer games) for the RPG side Square Enix. As you can expect I am going to be mentioning a series that has Final and/or Fantasy in its title. Sure enough Square re-released Final Fantasy 1, 2, and 4! Their release of 4 for PSP also includes the various spin offs that have been increasing in number for the past few years.

Before I lose all of your attention I will mention some re-released arcade games that came to the system. SNK’s Metal Slug Anthology piles 7 classic run and gun games onto a single UMD. And Konami’s Gradius Collection crams 5 classic shmups onto one UMD as well. Natsume brought Harvest Moon to the system with a re-release of the PS1 classic Back to Nature. On this system it is known as Harvest Moon: Boy & Girl.

Next Week I will return with a focus on titles built specifically for the PSP. No remakes, imports, or remade imports in Part 2!

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