Category Archives: Video Game Music

E3 2017: I’ll Be Your 1-Up Boy

For many gamers across the world, E3 is like Christmas. Being the pinnacle of video game marketing, the event itself is overflowing with the energy of a theme park – complete with colorful attractions and lines of people waiting for their turn to have fun. Being my third E3, this was a first for me as not a part of the IGDA scholarship program – originally a recipient and now a manager of it. IGDA Scholars no longer includes E3 as part of their roster, but E3 still holds significance for my agenda. As someone who specializes in journalism, marketing, and PR – specifically in games – E3 is a great opportunity for me to continue fostering friendships in the industry.

Traffic in New Donk City

With a love for Nintendo games which dates back almost as long as I’ve been alive, naturally, my attention was mostly on the Big N this year. Nintendo certainly did not disappoint. Their presentation managed to hit all the right spots, successfully building more hype for the Nintendo Switch. There’s a lot to look forward to this year for Switch owners: ARMS, Splatoon 2, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild DLC, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, Fire Emblem Warriors, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and – especially – Super Mario Odyssey. Reveals of new Yoshi and Kirby games, plus announcements of a core Pokémon game AND Metroid Prime 4 in development only adds fuel to the flame.

As Nintendo continued its E3 coverage with Treehouse Live and additional reveals of another Metroid for the Nintendo 3DS and new amiibos, my anticipation for visiting Nintendo’s booth grew. Super Mario Odyssey was the clearly the star of the show with Nintendo’s booth dressed up as New Donk City. However, with an E3 opened to the public for the first time in several years, Nintendo’s booth resembled that of a giant mosh pit more than anything else.

People waited for up to four hours in undefined lines just to play 10-minute demos of Super Mario Odyssey. The crowds were a common complaint and although crowd control improved over time, it was clear that the ESA was ill-prepared for this influx. I only got to be hands-on with two games at E3 as a result – Super Mario Odyssey being one of them.

Having Tea with the Professor

In my position as a social media coordinator for Novy, I was really happy to have been given an opportunity to work with Level-5 to plan and host the Layton café – a one-day event at E3 celebrating the 10th anniversary of the series and promoting the upcoming Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy. I’ve enjoyed Level-5 games since I’ve played Professor Layton and the Curious Village for the Nintendo DS, so it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.

Our hard work paid off as the Layton café was a big success with media and fans alike. Personally, I helped with media interviews with Akihiro Hino and as a “puzzle master” – welcoming guests and providing “hint coins” (a.k.a. clues) for puzzles. Witnessing the excitement from fans as they soaked in the atmosphere was a very rewarding experience and something I’m glad I got to play a role in.

Music from the Heart

That night ended on a high note – literally – as I attended the Kingdom Hearts concert with Yoko Shimomura (Kingdom Hearts composer) and Tetsuya Nomura (Kingdom Hearts director) in attendance. Again I witnessed the enthusiasm of fans as they shed tears over a performance they never thought would come to fruition. I’ve never seen a more passionate audience for an orchestra.

On a Throne for a Day

I wrapped up the remainder of E3 exploring the parts of the L.A. Convention Center I did not yet explore. After a bit of dancing at the Ubisoft booth, I got to play my second demo – another Level-5 game, Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom. After defeating a dragon and taking my place upon the throne at the Ni no Kuni booth, the rest of my day was dedicated to meeting industry friends.

E3 was a fruitful time for me – particularly in rejuvenating relationships. The two games I was able to play left a favorable impression on me. Mario Odyssey is bringing back a beloved old 3D Mario formula with many fun twists and Ni no Kuni II’s revamped battle system is a welcomed change. E3’s lively atmosphere is contagious, but I particularly loved how Nintendo transported its visitors to the bustling streets of New Donk City – fitting considering the traffic this year. Nintendo proved that it is a good year to be a Nintendo fan. Having the chance to do event marketing for a Professor Layton title was the cherry on top. Until next E3, I’m looking forward to seeing how the year plays out.

Zelda Symphony: Atlanta & West Palm Beach

Zelda Symphony LogoThe Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses is a dream come true. I’m not sure if anyone can comprehend my level of excitement when the Zelda Symphony made its grand entrance at E3 2011. Nintendo’s announcement of a touring symphony featuring music from Zelda was the most exciting thing I’ve heard from E3 since the Twilight Princess announcement in 2004. Take a moment to let that set in… Finally, my childhood dream of attending and listening to an orchestra perform Zelda music was a reality. When a date was announced for Atlanta at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center, you could only imagine how I was bouncing off the walls with sheer joy. There was no doubt about it; May 12, 2012 was going to be a highlight of my year. I was quick to get myself a good seat and then spread the news of its arrival, which I’m sure many of my friends can attest to.

Soon the fateful day arrived… Led by Susie Seiter’s energetic conducting and performed by local musicians, the main performance consisted of 4 main movements, Ocarina of Time, Wind Waker, Twilight Princess, and A Link to the Past. Afterwards, the Atlanta audience was treated to 3 encores, “Ballad of the Wind Fish” from Link’s Awakening, “Gerudo Valley” from Ocarina of Time, and a Majora’s Mask arrangement. Each encore ended with standing applause, SotG was a hit. If I had to pick a favorite, “Ballad of the Wind Fish” would be it, but in all honesty, I love the show in its entirety. The way SotG was constructed to tell a story through its musical arrangements and videos made it so that even those who never played a Zelda game before knew the narrative behind the music. It makes me enthusiastic for the future of video games as form of art and storytelling. Events like SotG are truly video games at their finest, allowing fans to relive the nostalgia while also introducing youth to the fine arts.

The 3 goddesses of Zelda, Din (top), Nayru (left), and Farore (right) grace the cover of our card.

Soon murmurings of second trip to see SotG was making rounds among my circle of friends, especially since one of them, a huge Zelda fan, missed her chance to see the show in Atlanta. I was quick to add my support, and soon I found myself planning a trip to the West Palm Beach stop on December 8, 2012. Only a couple of days before our departure to the Sunshine State, I got the idea of preparing a gift for the Zelda Symphony team. Lucky for me, I also dragged the aforementioned huge Zelda fan, Sylvia, to help with the job. The result was large thank you card, crafted out of construction paper, crayons, and markers. Imagine “Paper Zelda” and you’re on the right track.

Our trip to Florida could not have turned out better. Being the enthusiastic Zelda Symphony fans we were, we decided to visit the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts early. As a result, we had a fated meeting with the event manager, Priscilla Crespo, who gave us an exclusive tour of the facility. I am truly blown away by her great hospitality. She really contributed into making our Zelda Symphony pilgrimage into the fantastic experience that it was. Thank you Priscilla!

After an enjoyable day at the beach, it was finally time for the main event. Everything I didn’t do for Atlanta, I did for West Palm Beach. This meant going in costume (which was very popular among fellow fans), meeting with the producer and creative director, Jeron Moore, and the conductor, Eímear Noone, and getting my poster signed. It was truly an amazing experience getting to meet with the creative forces behind it all. I’m very grateful to know Jeron, whose down-to-earth personality and willingness to welcome all fans with open arms is a real delight. Eímear’s passion for the Zelda Symphony is truly contagious both on stage and off it. Her method of conducting is hypnotic and graceful. You can tell that she is passionate for what she does. Talking with her about it was a great joy and it led me to a revelation of how similar Zelda mythology is to Irish/Celtic mythology. In fact, I want to learn more about Irish culture thanks to her! During this time, my friends and I presented both Jeron and Eímear our hand-crafted card, congratulating them for a successful 2012 tour and thanking them for bringing the Zelda Symphony into fruition so that fans, like us, could enjoy it.

Not picture here, “Thanks for being so clucking awesome!” written by my friend Steve was one of Eímear’s favorites.

After a highly successful first year, the Zelda Symphony now begins its second quest. The Zelda Symphony is making a second visit to Atlanta with new arrangements on Thursday, June 6, 2013, and you can bet that I will be going to see it for a third time. The good seats are already going fast, so buy tickets while you still can!

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3 Highlights of MAGFest 11

MAGFest Logo

MAGFest, short for the Music and Gaming Festival had its eleventh anniversary this year at the beautiful, but cold, National Harbor, Maryland (just south of D.C.). I could not ask for a better start to the new year as MAGFest has been the most enjoyable convention I’ve attended so far. If you’re someone who appreciates video games and/or video game music, then this is definitely something you should consider attending. Listed below are just some of the highlights from my adventure to the Potomac.

Zelda Reorchestrated

ZREO is a group of Zelda fans online who have dedicated themselves to converting the infamous midi tunes of the Zelda franchise into full orchestral arrangements. For the past 5 years, the ZREO team has been working on a truly monumental and ambitious project known as Twilight Symphony. The result was 3 hours and 25 minutes of high quality orchestral arrangements from the popular the Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess soundtrack.

Houston Hanna is not only the talented artist behind this album cover, but for the Zelda Symphony poster as well!
Houston Hanna is not only the talented artist behind this Twilight Symphony album cover, but for the Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses poster as well!

At MAGFest, ZREO had two panels, one dedicated to Twilight Symphony and another called “ZREO After Hours” which ran from midnight to four in the morning. The first panel acted as a Q&A, while the second allowed its attendees to listen to the whole Twilight Symphony album. Having the opportunity to attend both of these panels and meeting the team responsible for such a great and monumental project was truly a blast. Even a wild Skotein from Pokémon Reorchestrated made an appearance! He created one of the tracks, Hyrulean Odd Jobs, on Twilight Symphony. I cannot express how amazing it was to be surrounded by such talented and friendly people.

I can confidently say that Twilight Symphony is the best fan-arranged Zelda album currently in existence. Those who pre-ordered the special collector’s edition or backed the kickstarter will not be disappointed (Have you checked your email yet?). For those who missed out, be sure to stay up with the latest news about the digital release coming out for Twilight Symphony at the website or Facebook page.

Limited Edition Twilight Symphony Physical Album
Sorry, it’s no longer available for pre-order. However, the special limited edition Twilight Symphony album is on its way to backers and to those who pre-ordered it as you read this!

Video Game Orchestra

I was really excited to see the VGO after looking up some YouTube videos of their performances. A particular favorite of mine is their rendition of “Time’s Scar” from Chrono Chross. VGO does something unique by combining orchestral elements with rock, creating a “rockestral”. This unique sound really sets them apart from other video game music acts. However, due to the difficulty of transferring certain instruments, like the cello, VGO was limited to mostly rock performances at MAGFest. This didn’t stop them from being great though. I was fortunate enough to record 6 of their pieces from MAGFest, which you can view on my YouTube channel. Of course, for your convenience, you can access the whole playlist here! My favorite was Chrono Trigger.

Triforce Quartet

The Triforce Quartet is definitely one of the pinnacles of my experience at MAGFest. Honestly, it was a great relief to hear a string quartet in a convention largely dominated by rock music. Don’t get me wrong, much of the rock music is great…there’s just a lot of it. As a result, the Triforce Quartet really stood out, and they were great to boot. My favorites were their Zelda medley and Mario medley. They also played pieces from Halo, “Still Alive” from Portal, and the Game of Thrones theme. MAGFest definitely should have more classical performers like these as guests. If given the chance, definitely take the time to hear these musicians live.

There is much more to MAGFest than this, but these 3 things certainly made it special. Although the musical performances were great and there was a vendor’s hall and arcade that could fulfill the dreams of many gamers, the true enjoyment of MAGFest came from all of the friends I got to meet. It is thanks to all of them that I had such a fantastic time. Thank you.