Archive for the ‘Video Game Vocal Trax’ Category

Casey Duck: Butter Duck

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

As someone who reports on mobile apps for an indie games news site, all sorts of innovative ideas and fun concepts are e-mailed to me daily. I’ve seen side-scrolling platformers, platformers with physics puzzles, platformers starring mascot characters, platformers about collecting things, and platformers where you pay the developers extra money so that you don’t have to collect as many things.

I don’t think anything could’ve prepared me for Casey Duck: Butter Duck.

According to developer Zyqued Games, “Casey Duck: Butter Duck is a fun mobile game, starring Casey Duck and his quest for his butter.” You can play it for free at Zyqued’s website. It’s also available as a free app for Android devices, the iPhone and iPod Touch, and for the iPad as Casey Duck HD.

I should mention that Zyqued’s marketing slogan is “Play or Else.” You may not have realized it when you woke up today, but your continued personal safety hinges on whether or not you play Casey Duck: Butter Duck within the next 48 hours. I hope you make the right choice.

Once you play the game, you might be surprised to discover that it’s not a marketing tie-in commissioned by, like, Land O’Lakes, or something. No branding is involved here; some creative spirit simply had an idea for a game about a duck — who, according to the game’s theme song, “eats only butter and drinks just ghee” — and then a team of designers, artists, and programmers sat down and made that game.

Then they released it for free. Zyqued’s website has minimal advertising, and the apps are ad-free, as far as I know. How does Casey Duck supplement Zyqued’s revenue stream? I have no idea.

Oh, would you like to hear the theme song for Casey Duck: Butter Duck?

Marvelous.

The game itself finds Casey Duck searching for a savory stick of butter on the other side of his pond. Casey has no less than five attack moves at his disposal, which he can use to beat up on any lesser mammals he encounters during his quest. The journey is pretty easy up until the last level, after which it becomes stupidly difficult. And then it has the gall to end on a cliffhanger.

Below is a full playthrough of Casey Duck: Butter Duck. Sit back, crack open a jug of ghee, and slake your lust for butter as you watch this one.

[To keep up with the latest Casey Duck: Butter Duck news, please visit the official thread at Lost Levels.]

Video Game Vocal Trax: “Cybertek,” A Windows Movie Maker Tribute To Tommy Tallarico

Monday, October 31st, 2011

Despite his recent discovery and encouragement of That which will bring about the End Of Days, I have a grudging respect for game music composer Tommy Tallarico. He created some great stuff with the Sega Genesis’ sound hardware, and his Video Games Live concert series does admirable work in promoting video game music as an art form.

His music credits extend as far back as 1993’s bizarre non-game Color A Dinosaur for the NES; incredibly, he’s not afraid to talk about the experience. More recently, he contributed to the PETA parody game Super Tofu Boy, which makes for a wonderfully obscure footnote in one’s career.

One particular track from his discography stands out, however. “Cybertek,” a song from the Sega CD game The Terminator, is Tallarico’s take on the rave genre. It plays in the background of the game’s Tech Noir club stage. To discuss it further would spoil the experience of a first-time listening, but it suffices to say that it’s a remarkable piece of work.

Obviously, the song deserves a tribute that could only be produced with Windows Movie Maker 2.6. After capturing a handful of screenshots and scripting a high-concept music video, I partnered with Movie Maker expert Bridgeport Cat to bring my vision to life. I think she did a bang-up job.

Video Game Vocal Trax: Catz (Nintendo DS)

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

It was Christmas, 2006. I wanted to get a present for my girlfriend, who 1) loved cats, and 2) was totally into the Nintendo DS. Since Nintendo had yet to produce a cat version of Nintendogs, I got her the best thing available at the time: Ubisoft’s Catz.

The game itself was fine, if a little primitive in comparison to later pet-raising games for the DS. It let you use the DS stylus to pet fuzzy little kittens, and that’s really all I wanted. At the time, it seemed like the perfect Christmas gift.

Unfortunately, it also had a vocal theme song.

There’s just something about the singer’s voice, the low-quality sound sampling, and the way it crackles through the DS speakers that makes this song incredibly depressing. I gather that it’s supposed to be a song about a newborn kitten looking forward to a bright future, but the delivery makes it sound more like a baby animal dirge.

It’s the first thing that plays when the game powers up, too, so it instantly saps away all desire to brush virtual kittens. My girlfriend described it as producing a “Li’l Brudder” kind of effect — it’s just not possible to enjoy the game after you’ve listened to a song about a weak, possibly crippled kitten who isn’t yet aware of the hardship that awaits him in life.

(The title screen isn’t much help, either. Those poor kitties seem so sad! And just look at their misshapen little triangle heads! Why?)

To my surprise, I found out recently that the song wasn’t an original recording produced specifically for Catz. “Meow Meow Lullaby Remix,” as it’s called, was originally written for the charity album “For The Kids Too!” It’s performed by Nada Surf, who you might know for their ’90s hit “Popular.” What a strange discovery that was, by the way. It’s like finding out Butthole Surfers did a track for Mario Teaches Typing, or that Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was the theme song for a Korean Sega Master System game or something.

The full version of “Meow Meow Lullaby” is here (warning: do not under any circumstances watch the meme-filled video itself), and if you want to hear Nada Surf drop the f-bomb while performing it live, that’s also an option.

Vocals of Phantasia

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

Last week at GameSetWatch, I wrote about a new Spanish fan translation for Namco’s light gun shooter Time Crisis. Along with translated text, it features rerecorded dialog that required the efforts of seven different voice actors. It’s remarkably well-done, especially when considering that dubbing is rarely attempted in amateur game translations.

Below is a previous experiment in fan dubbing. “Vocals of Phantasia” was a translation patch released for Namco’s Super Nintendo RPG Tales of Phantasia several years back. The intro’s pretty funny (is she singing words?), but skip to 2:07 for the best part. Trust me, you need to hear this.

Isn’t it great? Every line is spoken in a muffled hush that’s less sotto voce and more “I’ll wake up my parents if I make too much noise.” I find a new thing to laugh at every time I watch this, from the sleepy “Though I am close to death I have never been more alive,” to the classic “Wait god of thunder hmm.”

Nintendo of America tried to outclass Vocals of Phantasia with its own dub, released for the Game Boy Advance in 2006. Amazingly, it succeeded. It succeeded in the best possible way.

Video Game Vocal Trax: NARC (Arcade)

Monday, July 4th, 2011

In 1988, Midway released NARC, a side-scrolling arcade shooter in which players waged a literal war on drugs. And prostitution. And dumpsters.

While it’s admirable that someone finally had the guts to craft a revenge fantasy against the armies of jean-jacketed PCP addicts and perverted clowns that once terrorized the streets of America, Midway’s fascination with extreme violence undercut the anti-drug message a bit. Though arresting drug dealers is presented as an option, NARC makes it explicitly clear that the preferred solution is to explode them with rockets and let their severed limbs rain from the skies like confetti in a Fourth of July gore parade.

NARC is also a very loud game that wasn’t afraid to show off its digitized voice samples. When a NARC cabinet is turned up to maximum volume (as is its default setting), an otherwise unassuming video arcade is transformed into a dissonant carnival of UUUGHs and BLAAAAGHs and YOU’RE BUSTEDs. And whenever a player’s credit ends and a new high score is earned, everyone within 200 feet of the machine is treated to this:

Also worth mentioning is the background music that plays during NARC’s second level. It’s not a vocal track…or at least, it wasn’t, until it was covered and released as a B-side by the goddamned Pixies.

Lyrics are here, if you’re having trouble deciphering them.

I guess if man is five, then the devil is six, and if the devil is six then AW NAW NAW NAW THE NARCS MAN

Video Game Vocal Trax: Slam City with Scottie Pippen (Sega CD 32X)

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

You probably don’t know what it’s like to own both a Sega CD and a 32X. Here’s a brief walkthrough.

It begins at Christmas, 1994. Your dad spends all of your mom’s savings on a 32X and a copy of Star Wars Arcade, and neither of them will be able to afford more games until next Christmas. All you have to play for the next several months are Star Wars, a copy of Doom you’d later get for your birthday, and whatever Sega CD and Genesis games you already had in your meager collection.

Odds are that Wonder Dog has lost its charm by this point, and the solutions to the three cases in Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective remain exactly the same. But you’re loyal to the lot you’ve been given. You read EGM for the latest 32X news (there is none). You gaze longingly at the Sega CD 32X games available at the mall’s Electronics Boutique (there are five). And then next week, after those games mysteriously drop in price to $10 each, you buy every single one of them with your allowance money.

You buy those games, and then you play the hell out of them.

Okay, so maybe you wouldn’t. But I played the hell out of them.

I beat Fahrenheit. I got a perfect run in Night Trap. I even figured out how to finish Corpse Killer during a time of my life I’d rather forget. And I didn’t just complete but had mastered Slam City with Scottie Pippen, a timing-based, barely-interactive one-on-one basketball game presented entirely in full-motion video.

Actually, I was so good at Slam City that I saw a secret ending in which the game’s actors yelled at me because I out-basketballed Scottie Pippen so hard that I made him look bad. Swear to god, this is true. Slam City’s best ending is a guilt trip.

Unfortunately, my Slam City mastery has long since been overwritten by more important knowledge (like the names of obscure iPhone developers, and the lyrics to Infogrames’ corporate theme song), and I can’t even beat the easiest stage anymore. It’s a shame.

Anyway, that’s my Slam City story. Aside from ruining my life, Slam City is also notable for launching Scottie Pippen’s rap career, which began and ended with the game’s opening theme, “Respect.”

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Smashing Drive (Gaelco, 2000)

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

I want to talk about Gaelco. Because someone has to.

Gaelco is a Spanish developer of…ah, let’s call them “lower-tier” arcade games. Its catalog largely consists of clones, cheaply produced original titles, and games that are just shy of what would be considered “good.” Few of Gaelco’s games (exactly two) were ever ported to consoles, and many of their best-known efforts were never released outside of Spain.

If you’ve heard of Gaelco at all, it’s probably because of Smashing Drive, an arcade Crazy Taxi knockoff that, for whatever reason, Namco’s North American branch identified as a surefire hit and subsequently ported to the Xbox and GameCube in 2002. The game was a moderate success in arcades, but flopped on consoles, largely because you can finish the thing in about an hour and never have any reason to return to it.

Smashing Drive itself is not a remarkable game. It’s fun in a shallow sort of way, and it’s worthwhile for the 99 cents-plus-shipping you’ll pay for it on eBay nowadays. The only truly exceptional thing about Smashing Drive is itsĀ transcendent soundtrack.

Yeah. This plays in the background during the first level, and you’ll hear it loop many times over by the time you get to the second stage. It’s bizarre, isn’t it? I don’t think I’ve ever heard a more abrasive and less intelligible vocal song in a video game. The lyrics are in English — I think — but what are these words?

Upon first listen, I had the feeling that I’d heard this song before. Somewhere around the 20th loop, it hit me: it’s a total ripoff of Rob Zombie’s “Dragula.” More specifically, it’s modeled after the Dragula remix in Jet Grind Radio — it even uses the same flanging and stutter effects, in the same places. Except, well, somewhat ineptly.

This track plays in the second level, and it’s at least a little easier to understand. I can pick out individual words and phrases, anyway.

It’s probably a ripoff of something, like the first song is, but it’s not immediately identifiable. The guitar riff reeks vaguely of Aerosmith. And now that I think about it, the vocal style kind of resembles “Walk This Way.”

Among the few lyrics that I could decipher:

– “Heeeere we go againnnnn”
– “One two three four. One two three four. ONE TWO THREE FOUR. ONE TWO THREE YEAAAHHHHH
– “LOOSEN UP YOUR DIAPERS” (Huh? And what’s said afterward? “Get your crotch curling?”)

This one’s catchy. It’s also a complete ripoff of something that I know I’ve heard before, but can’t quite recall. Parts of it remind me of Franz Ferdinand, but Smashing Drive was first released in arcades in 2000 — Franz Ferdinand didn’t exist until 2002. Smashing Drive was clearly ahead of its time.

The melody at 1:16 was totally stolen from Cream’s “I Feel Free,” though.

So hey, here’s a fun thing to try: listen closely to these songs and try to figure out what words you’re hearing. There are no officially published lyrics that I’m aware of (or an official soundtrack release, for that matter). Can anyone decipher them? If you have any guesses, post them in the comments!

[Next time: Radikal Bikers]