My Current Favorite Original Soundtracks from Video Games

Hey Fam!

I thought it would be awesome to share with you some of my favorite vidya soundtracks. As a lot of you know, I’ve been a guitarist for nearly 20 years and a gamer for even longer, so anytime I play a game I want to learn about the composers, arrange/learn songs. It’s a huge element in gaming that’s really significant to me and I thought it would be a great opportunity to not only share some amazing music with you but for some of you to get a little more of an idea of who I am, for what it’s worth. Plus, it’s a questions I’m often asked. These games aren’t in any particular order. 

 

My Current Favorite Original Soundtracks from Video Games

Listen to Missing Translation Soundtrack Demo HERE

Missing Translation is this addicting indie puzzle game that I started to play about a year or two ago. The music is so simple, optimistic and mellow, I sometimes leave the game on just to hear the music in the background while I work or help my kids with their studies. I couldn’t find a big list link for it’s music but what I provided is a sample and not even my favorite piece of music from the game.

 

My Current Favorite Original Soundtracks from Video Games

Listen to Mass Effect 3 Original Soundtrack  HERE

Mass Effect 3 Soundtrack is pretty significant to me due to feelings provoked while playing this game, queue Leaving Earth feels, and mood setting that can apply to your own feelings while trying to decompress. I listen to Mass Effect 3 music when I want to focus on my writing work, or when I’m reflecting on major life choices. It has this almost antiquated video game music element to it that I can’t help but like despite it being a pretty modern game. When I took my first trip overseas a few weeks ago I had this soundtrack on repeat while I watched the sunrise over the vast ocean. It was a really surreal moment for me due to making so many important decisions in my life and just made me feel really at peace and sad all at once. 

 

 

 

My Current Favorite Original Soundtracks from Video Games

Listen to Skyrim Original Soundtrack HERE

Skyrim is one of my favorite games of all times, and my favorite within the Elder Scrolls series. The soundtrack is absolutely dynamic and Jeremy Soule is a phenomenal composer. The soundtrack set the entire mood for this game and provoked strong and fearless feelings, which is something I’ve always admired about how powerful the imagination brought to life can be. It makes me think about how vulnerable people really are due to our senses and I personally enjoy every moment of allowing myself to feel free in that moment while playing games like Skyrim. 

My Current Favorite Original Soundtracks from Video Games

Listen to Final Fantasy XIII Soundtrack HERE

I was HIGHLY anticipating the release of FF XIII and remember immediately feeling blown away by the main menu’s music.  This entire game is so vast and the music composed is breathtaking. Definitely out of everything I’ve heard by Masashi Hamauzu during his years with Square Enix, this soundtrack in my opinion is his best work. I listen to this soundtrack on on loop just about every day and have been for years. It’s best to listen to late at night while I’m working on my blogs or browsing the internet. 

My Current Favorite Original Soundtracks from Video Games

I have only become familiar with Yoko Shimormura’s work with Final Fantasy XV because I didn’t play the MMO but I was in awe when I played the Platinum Demo a few months back. Once I was able to hear the complete soundtrack I was floored at how dynamic it was. Shimormura maintained the spirit of Final Fantasy and added incredible elements of suspense and drama to the series’ musical history. Like FF XIII, play this just about every day while I’m working or thinking. I’ve been really bad about spoilers with Final Fantasy XV, but despite not playing the game yet I already feel intense emotions when I listen to this soundtrack being already familiar with the Final Fantasy Universe and anticipating this release wholeheartedly. 

My Current Favorite Original Soundtracks from Video Games

Listen to The Last Of Us Original Soundtrack HERE

I had wanted to play The Last Of Us since it’s release but wasn’t able to due to a borky PS3. I finally had that opportunity this year and was immediately captivated by the minimalism of this soundtrack. It also introduced me to the world of composer, Gustavo Santaolalla. I was wholeheartedly impressed with how he was able to set a semitone for an entire game with such an unornamented approach. The best way I can translate his style of arranging music is preparing an extremely simple meal and letting the ingredients in their natural state, speak for themselves. I know that’s a silly analogy but I am a cook by trade so it’s the best I can come up with! I listen to this soundtrack when I feel a bit bleak or uncertain about my current circumstances. 

My Current Favorite Original Soundtracks from Video Games

Listen to To The Moon Soundtrack HERE

The best way I can describe the To The Moon soundtrack is innocent and emotionally curious. The main theme is powerful enough to emphasize whatever mood you wish to be in if you’re happy or sad that it could be played at both your wedding and your funeral.  I loved indie game so much but I also hated it because it’s extremely sad. I love listening to it when I’m working on projects or pumpkin baking bread at 3 a.m.

 

My Current Favorite Original Soundtracks from Video Games

Listen to Life is Strange Soundtrack HERE

Life is Strange is one of my favorite story games, and the soundtrack has a lot of personal meaning to me because I started to play this game when I met someone very special, so it inflicts a lot of positive memories for me during a really difficult time in my life. I know the game and music has a bit of a hipster vibe to it, but I honestly appreciate it a lot and have many times listened to the main menu credits on loop while falling asleep. I will always love this game’s soundtrack for personal reasons. It definitely sets the tone of facing major challenges in life while maintaining a calm composer. 

I hope you guys enjoyed my list. It’s so amazing to me at how powerful and influential gaming can have on your life and mood. It’s more than a hobby to many of us, but a lifestyle. I want to inspire others to really appreciate what game developers and composers are capable of doing for us. Artistic expression is transparent; you know when a composer or game developer is sharing a part of their spirit with you and that takes a lot of courage to express yourself and allow the entire world to critique you for it. No matter if it’s simple or complex in skill, translating your heart is what makes for an amazing game opposed to pumping out content for a quick profit. 

My Current Favorite Original Soundtracks from Video Games

Gears of War 4 Campaign Review – No Story Spoilers

 

Gears of War 4 Campaign Review - No Story Spoilers

Hey Fam!

I was really excited to receive quite a bit of positive feedback during a recent Twitter poll regarding me adding some video game reviews to my blog. Since I love Gears of War and was very much so anticipating the current installment, Gears of War 4, I thought I’d give it a shot! I just finished the campaign this week and took plenty of notes. 

WARNING! Although there are no story spoilers, below I will elaborate on the gameplay and a few opinions on mechanics of new weapon selection and enemies. Read at your own risk. 

Gameplay:

Previously, Gears of War delivered a standard linear 3rd Person Shooter. We know the algorithm within the franchise; take cover with each wave, throw in a few funny one-liners and don’t run out of ammo. Final boss will be a bit more of a challenge. Parkour! It’s a Berserker!

Problem with previous installments is, it got a bit predictable and I’ll be honest, I was dreading that possibility with Gears of War 4 but luckily I was in awe at how well this game was choreographed. Each Horde wave within every chapter offered new challenging and exciting elements.

Gears of War 4 Campaign Review - No Story Spoilers

You have to manage your defenses while combating enemies, environmental hazards, whether it be industrial or harsh weather, and your little safe space behind a comfy wall will most likely be replaced with an incubation pod, which may or may not have a nasty surprise in it, or a flimsy fence which would most likely give you fuckin’ tetanus in real life. 

I was addicted to using my lancer’s chainsaw bayonet to pop open every pod I came across when I wasn’t in the middle of a raid. Supporting characters will comedically bitch at you for it! A little bit of an easter egg. 

 

Gears of War 4 Campaign Review - No Story Spoilers

Photo CreditIGN.com

Enemies: 

 There were far more interesting enemies, all with their own attributes and weaknesses, and bosses were a pain in the ass to beat. Each chapter I was on the edge of my seat and saying, “holy fuck this is fucking ridiculous!” I was genuinely excited with each wave and equally nervous. 

Enemies are much more intelligent in this game than in previous installments and they are even more so ruthless! A Drone took a lancer to my butt and sliced me in half 🙁 

Gears of War 4 Campaign Review - No Story Spoilers

 

Some of the enemies had me cringing in all the right ways too! Imagine being ingested by a roided bug-like creature who wants to harvest your body! They call them Snatchers for a reason. They’re semi-difficult to kill, very quick runners and jumpers too. However, these… will be the least of your problems at times. 

 

Gears of War 4 Campaign Review - No Story Spoilers

Photo Creditnews.xbox.com

Weapons: 

One of my favorite elements to Gears of War is the revamping of iconic weapons. The lancer has been modernized and modified as it has always evolved somewhat in previous games.

Ammo count is both stronger for standard and custom weapons too (560 total for custom lancer. If I recall it was about 400 in previous Gears and lower prior), which sort of balances in my opinion, as this game was a bit more chaotic than previous Gears. 

 

Gears of War 4 Campaign Review - No Story Spoilers

 You’re able to do a bit of stealth melee as well which comes in handy when you’re being stingy with ammo (or desperate like me) and you don’t have too many enemies left to dispose of. You  have to be quick though as it’s not something you should heavily rely on. The addition to a combat knife results in some pretty brutal and exciting executions. 

The longshot sniper rifle was aesthetically awkward and took an awfully long time to reload, which is something that is pretty frustrating within Gears of War to be honest. I’m accepting of the reload time with automatic weapons, but having such a dreadful delay for a single shot rifle is a bit ridiculous. I personally don’t recommend it for the campaign as it’s pretty useless. 

Best way I can describe the embar is a sawed off shotgun for robots that has to be charged. You get three rounds so its beset utilized for flanking. I kept this on me to stun more difficult enemies during waves and it definitely came in handy. 

Weapon Spoiler Alert: 

One of my favorite parts of the last Act and Chapter of Gears of War 4 was using this Transformer looking mech. It was so liberating being able to stomp out your enemies, kick cars around and call in missiles to target enormous enemies. 

 

Gears of War 4 Campaign Review - No Story Spoilers

 

Verdict: 

The story reveals some really interesting history about planet Sera if you pay close attention. The story structure, however, is unfortunately consistent with older games; a few intense moments, some laughs and a predictable mystery. I think the reason why we become so emotionally invested is because the characters are brilliantly brought to life by amazing voice talent, that it compensates for half-assed story writing.

Gameplay was phenomenally improved compared to previous Gears and I was extremely satisfied about that. I wasn’t bored or growing tired from grinding through each chapter and some of the newer weapon mechanics are a bit tricky to adapt to but not complicated, which makes gameplay pleasantly challenging. 

I definitely do and have been recommending Gears of War 4 to anyone who has a bitter taste in their mouths from previous titles and has definitely been one of my favorite releases of 2016. 

 

 

Pokemon Go is Changing My Life and I Don’t Know if I Like It

Pokemon Go is Changing My Life and I Don't Know if I Like It

Hey Fam!

I’m not going to get into what Pokemon Go is, because the app is already surpassing Instagram and Twitter. I was reluctant to write about it because I hate jumping on the hype train but I can’t resist. I was extremely excited about this game last year, but didn’t think it would become so insanely popular that I find myself constantly bumping into people who are also playing… because I’m actually getting out of the house on a consistent basis and looking forward to it. 

Pokemon Go is Changing My Life and I Don't Know if I Like It

I discovered this really pretty rest stop with a water fountain I must’ve passed a thousand times and enjoy opening modules and watching other Trainers flock. 

I’m pretty introverted, and when I say I have no social life I mean it. Unless you count the small talk I have with my apartment manager who is also a gamer when I drop off the rent check, or the barista at my Starbucks drive thru. 100% of my social life is online through gaming and Twitter. I work from home, work for myself, and aside from a couple of e-mails per month to my editor, that’s my limit of social interaction. I also have no family nearby and I do my best to dodge holidays. Goddamn Bird Flu! 

Pokemon Go is Changing My Life and I Don't Know if I Like It

However, this past week has been pretty intense. I went for a hike near the river in my area and chatted with almost 10 people within 2 hours who were also Pokemon hunting. We were all searching for water type Pokemon, and some of us were exchanging tips on where we found certain ones. I didn’t quite catch many water type… but I did catch a Ponyta galloping on the sparkling river which wasn’t expected. 

Pokemon Go is Changing My Life and I Don't Know if I Like It

I got so excited during my adventure because I found a wild Snorlax. I even yelled, “OMG SNORLAX!” Thank god a fat weeabo (literally me) didn’t walk past because I wasn’t in the mood to have someone level up on my ass and call me a fat shamer. You know how Peter Griffen thinks out loud? That’s been me this week thanks to Pokemon Go. 

Pokemon Go is Changing My Life and I Don't Know if I Like It

I see what you did there…

Yesterday I was waiting in line at my local grocer because the self check out was out of service, and the cashier said to the gentleman in front of me, ” I know you aren’t playing Pokemon  in my line!” He promptly turns over to me and humorously accuses, “So is she!” The gentleman had confessed that Pokemon Go had improved his mood and for the first time in a few years he’s been out of his house. That made me legitimately happy for him and I wished him all the best. 

Pokemon Go is Changing My Life and I Don't Know if I Like It

A Wild Amby Appears

I’ve had quite a few short and semi-long conversations regarding Pokemon since the game launched here in the U.S. and I admit, it’s been nice getting even more exercise, some much needed sunshine,  having a mental break outside and socializing a bit. I love the universal bond so many of us share and would be unaware of if we were simply passing each other faceless while we run our errands. I’ve been learning more about my district than I knew existed. Psyduck has me taking midnight walks around my block too! “Psy! Psy! Psy! Psy! Psy! *promptly waddles away* 

Thanks Pokemon Go! Be safe trainers and have fun okay? 

amby-signature-blogs

Why Video Games are Healthy

Hey Fam!

I was laying on my bed and staring at the ceiling as I often do at this time of night, and thinking about how gaming subculture makes me very happy and sad these days; the advancements of technology allow us to explore even further into the stories and connect closer to our favorite new and familiar characters alike. However, the stigma that has gone viral regarding video games being oppressing, sexist, homophobic, racist and damaging to one’s health frustrates me. 

Why Video Games are Healthy

Playing video games has and always will be a really important outlet for me and for so many of us. When I’m frustrated, I can decompress, instead of forcing myself to relive bad situations or hurtful words/actions from others. Gaming has helped hone my confidence throughout the years, and has allowed me to be apart of a great community! I’ve felt brave in-game when I couldn’t be in real life, which motivated me to do just that at times. 🙂

I can check in with my friends from around the world at any given time and instantly feel better.  There have been so many time I’ve chatted with my gaming friends online or joined a campaign while I’m still in tears, but nobody knew about it because I didn’t wish to burden anyone’s day. I’m instantly cheered up by so many of you on Twitter and although I don’t express my gratitude often, I am very thankful for each and every one of you. When I don’t hear from some of you, even if you’re full blown anon, you cross my mind. 

Why Video Games are Healthy

Gaming led me to many of you and you’ve helped me cope with some very sensitive times in my life without realizing it. I don’t express myself for the sake of attention, but with the intention of hoping that some of you other quiet ones who pretend to be content in order to spare others your energy understand how much you’re loved and how amazing you are. I sincerely care about people I cross paths with and want them to succeed and just… be at peace with themselves. 

It saddens me when Social Justice Warriors hyper-focus on the non-existing issues within gaming after seeking them out with absolute bias with the intentions of terminating the success and reputation of said games. When many like myself really need that escape from reality and method to heal. Some of us are inspired to create our own video games, or like myself, recreate and compose music based off of my favorite games and which have inspired my culinary career and writing. All therapeutic creative outlets for me and so many of you. 

Why Video Games are Healthy

It’s because of gaming I found true love and I’ve also found true friendships. My timeline in life is fulfilled with so many amazing memories from games I’ve enjoyed and people I’ve bonded with about said games. If you take a moment to think about that, it’s pretty powerful in itself. I didn’t have many friends as a kid as I moved a lot, but I do recall some of the happiest moments playing with other kids being centered around a video game. As an adult, I can genuinely say the same. I’m pretty isolated in real life and don’t really know anyone around here, but you guys are my social life and I’m forever thankful. It’s all I need. 

We aren’t defined by the negativity in our lives, nor should we celebrate it. We aren’t special for it, but we CAN help each other out. I’ve seen some amazing things happen within the gaming community such as charity fundraising, moral support within clans, shitposting which always cheers me up, and a pretty decent sense of loyalty. Social Justice Warriors don’t seem to have that strong of a foundation as gamers do, and I feel sorry for them because maybe a lot of them are hurting too, but don’t have an outlet like we do. So instead, they blame our outlet for their own insecurities and are filled with hate, which seeps out into our communities. 

Why Video Games are Healthy

I’m thankful for video games because they inspire so much creativity and even though at face value we all appear to be a bunch of trolling assholes, most of us are pretty decent people and sometimes we’re too embarrassed to speak up about our own sadness. So instead, we can extend our hand to one another by joining in a friendly match. For what it’s worth, I’m so proud of you all and hope you see what I see. Your humor, art and friendships really make me smile a lot and it inspires me to return those elements to others in my own way. 

 

Take care of yourself,

Why Video Games are Healthy

Gamer Offended

I’ve been a gamer for most of my life. During early childhood, puberty and adolescence, never have I  had to or have been categorized as a ‘female’ gamer. Not once was I made to feel anything more or less than a fellow friend who also enjoys vidya.  I wasn’t put down for my gender and I honestly wouldn’t have understood the joke if I were. Gaming as a girl back in my day wasn’t an insult or alluring. Sure, if you had a crush on ‘said girl’ in particular I’d imagine, but doesn’t that rule apply to everyone?

Unfortunately as a 30-something adult woman, I feel compelled to speak up, not on behalf of female gamers because it would be insulting to their intelligence, but for myself. Unfortunately, in this case, I grit my teeth and speak up as… a female who happens to play video games. I cringe and stand up to say this, not with pride, but with the utter embarrassment due to the not-so-adultlike reactions of the new wave feminist movement who find it vital for their own m̶e̶n̶t̶a̶l̶ ̶h̶e̶a̶l̶t̶h̶ profit to meddle in gaming and speak on my behalf.

Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 1.28.28 PMScreen Shot 2016-03-30 at 1.28.10 PMScreen Shot 2016-03-30 at 1.27.27 PM

Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 2.26.28 PM

Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 2.28.17 PM

Yet anytime I’ve spoken up on my own behalf cordially I’ve been blocked online by many of these “female gamers and devs” who’ve either ignored my refute or have declared I was only interested in gaming for male attention because all of us are twerking for Twitch donations while pretending to play League of Legends/CS:GO whilst making our fathers proud. 

That’s empowering though. Not that I  necessarily feel better about writing a blog post. I’m not brave for it. Nobody is holding a fucking gun to my head and telling me NOT to write this shit. If anything, it’s pretty pathetic that I’ve decided to drink the kool-aid.

 

Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 1.25.47 PM

 

Gamer Offended

Gaming didn’t offend me; it helped me. Video games apparently trigger, offend, and shatter the spines of women, like myself, who are insecure about their bodies. Me, the person who grew up needing video games as an escape.  Not once have I ever been triggered by a sexy female character and as a person who unfortunately lived through physical and mental abuse as a child, not once was I triggered by a sinister scene or tournament fighter, which I played avidly and considered competing as a teenager.

 It’s discouraging to see so many game developers/publishers castrate themselves and hand over their balls to these people in fear of backlash in the media which they control. It’s upsetting because these people, who do NOT play video games, are speaking up on my behalf and as a consequence, ALL of us have to abide by these actions. The consumers, life-long and new coming fans cringe and miss out while the apathetic feminist game devs and supporters who’ve never invested their free time and money into gaming for leisure simply use gaming as a niche market. They speak on behalf of female gamers like myself for profit, but when I disagree, my voice is no longer important.

As someone who is at times an insecure female, who has endured a lot of bad shit in her life like so many of us have, I find much joy in many games of different genres, and not once have I ever felt intimidated by a female character nor have I suffered a deficiency in a lack of female protagonists despite my many self accountable feminine insecurities or being a bit of a socially anemic geek who was unrelatable to the masses anyway.

amby-signature-blogs