Monday, July 25, 2011

Nuzlocke Challenge

I, Reogan, acknowledge that I tend to start things. I am very good at starting things. I am not adept at the finishing of things.

Having noted the above, I now begin a new thing.

Pokémon has always been perfect. However, one of its many flaws, that in no way impinge upon the aforementioned perfection, is the ease with which one can travel through the games. The Nuzlocke Challenge adds two simple rules to the game.

1. If your pokémon faints (is defeated in battle), it is dead. Release it. No exceptions.
2. When you enter a new area, you may try to catch the first pokémon you see. Whether you succeed or fail, you may catch nothing more in the area.

This makes you care about your pokémon, and adds more fluff to what quickly becomes a very meta game. I recently began a Ruby Nuzlocke. I added two more rules, both very common amongst Nuzlockers:

3. Every pokémon must be named. This makes them all the more precious.
4. Only one pokéball may be bought per mart. 

Now, in addition to the original Nuzlocke Comic (linked above), there are many Fan Comics. (You should stop reading this right now, click that link, and read all of Freddy's. They are easily my favorite.) So, in that spirit, I will make a comic of my own, ignoring entirely the fact that I cannot draw in the least and never made a comic before (discounting a two-page, lined-paper, stick figure, Spanish language wonder in which the subjects of sombreros, Taco Bell, and dead wives are explored).

Please don't laugh.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Song of the Week 40: 'A Link to the Piano' by Zylance

Hey there, I'm finally back. Due to a two-week vacation and various internet issues, I haven't been able to do much at all with RPS. So...I've come home, my internet is finally running properly again after over a month of problems, and I'm glad to be back. I have to thank Met for putting all of the links to our song reviews on OCR and also for him having many connections which will help promote RPS; I was shocked to see the dramatic rise in pageviews this month. So, this week's Song of the Week is a remix based of the game The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past: another great classic that I unfortunately have never played. I was really surprised that this hasn't been a Song of the Week before; it was probably one of the first (if not the first) remixes from OCR that I've ever heard back in 2009 when I first discovered the site. So here's Zylance's (he was Zoola at the time) only remix: 'A Link to the Piano'. Let's check it out now, shall we?

The first thing everyone has to realize is that this is a solo piano piece. The song starts out with the piano creeping in slowly with a rhythm consisting of the notes G, C, and D. There are no complex chords at the moment, but even the simplicity of the notes are blended together to make it sound more complex. This repeating pattern of the rhythm grows broader at 0:08; not only is the rhythm increasing in speed, but the bass notes are getting deeper. The treble notes remain the same, but the bass adds depth and change to what's being played. At 0:22 the introduction to the piece starts to conclude, for the music starts to slow down and end with a shortly-held E note. After this note is released, there's a short pause that lasts for about three seconds (0:26-0:29). Starting at 0:30 there's a new section where the more complex "Zelda chords" are introduced. Although the rhythm played here resembles that of a waltz, it's in 4/4 time instead of 3/4. Each chord is similar in sound and the bass notes in each measure are almost identical. The highest note in each treble chord becomes higher, creating a sort of slow buildup. There's a slight change of pattern coming up at 0:37; instead of the three main notes/chords being played, every other measure includes a triplet. Not only that, but the volume increases with each measure as well. This sequence will happen twice, and then there's another brief pause. At 0:47 the first main sections of the song begins to play. The melody is played by the treble notes while the bass notes cover a more major interpretation of the sequence from 0:30-0:47. When I heard this section for the first time, I could instantly tell that this music was from a Zelda game (even though I already knew where it was from before listening to it). It wasn't because I knew it beforehand, but it had that feeling in the music that presented in almost every LoZ. While this melody is playing, I notice how the volume of the song fluctuates and gets louder to add emphasis (especially at the third note of each measure). At 1:04 the piano repeats the rhythm it was previously playing at 0:47, although there's a minor change of pitch. After that melody is played one more time, a new section begins at 1:20. This new section has the bass notes playing the usual rhythm (note, note, chord, repeat) and the treble notes play a new melody that's a little more major than the last. Also, this section changes key signatures; it's now 3/4 time, making it even more like a waltz. Like the previous melody, it repeats itself for a couple seconds starting at 1:31. This repetition doesn't last long, for everything starts to slow down at 1:38. The new section starts up at 1:44 after another held note. I've noticed throughout this piece that every transition to the next section is merely just a held note, a pause, and the next section jumping in. It's simple, but I like it. This new section is much quieter in volume and a little simpler chord-wise. The key sig has also turned back into a slower 4/4 time. The treble notes, blended with very low, slightly-syncopated bass chords, play three eighth notes for every two measures-after two measures the notes will repeat but go down in pitch. There are many occasions when the pattern will go up in pitch but go back down again. This section lasts for quite awhile in fact; it goes from 1:14 to about 2:19. There's another "ritardando, pause, new section" transition at 2:14, although this new section is extremely similar to the last. The biggest difference here has to be the dramatic rise in volume. Here you can tell that no more chords are being used; it isn't until 2:27 when a chord is used by the treble notes. At 2:34 is probably the most powerful part of the piece, or the climax. Coincidentally 2:34 is exactly half-way through the song. This here is a repetition of the section back at 1:44, but much, much louder. At 2:42 the notes speed up a little bit, going from eighth notes into stretched triplets that gradually slow and quiet down. At 2:49 the next small sequence is a group of large, familiar chords that are used in many Zelda games. These chords are also quite loud, which is a dramatic contrast to the quick, quiet, treble triplets (try saying that five times fast!) that are to follow. At 3:07 the triplets from before start off another new section, but it has the same feel as the almost silent section at 1:44. This time around it's much simpler rhythm-wise but much more complex in the chords. There's only one minor chord for each measure, making the piece sound very melancholy right here. There isn't any addition of notes until about 3:20 or so. It's a long section also, but thankfully it's not too repetitive with the notes. At 3:55 (yeah, this was almost a minute long section) things start to change a little bit. It's the same melody and rhythm, but each measure will accelerate just a little bit. I love how they do that there. It isn't until about 4:15 when the sequence of chords change and the tempo slows down a bit. After the song gets back up in volume and pitch, large, loud chords are played with a couple quarter notes in between. At 4:27 the chords are now becoming even longer to change (although the only thing changing at the moment are the low bass notes that are getting lower with each hit), and even three seconds pass before the final chord of the section is hit. Starting at 4:44 the song is now starting to conclude. There's probably about four chords being played in the last fifteen seconds of the song with a medium-high G note playing before each chord. At 5:00 the treble and the bass join again for the final time until nothing else can be heard.

Pros: Excellent piano work, I have to say. It's very soothing, deep, relaxing, and the notes blended very well. The amount of chords used throughout the song was great, since it's hard to get a good interpretation of the chords used in the LoZ games. Also, I liked how almost every section in the song was different or had a different feeling. Being a pianist myself, I'm very impressed.

Cons: The biggest problem that I had with the song was the sensitivity of the volume. There were times when the volume worked for what was going on, but I thought that the volume went up and down way too frequently. It was also too loud at some points as well (2:34 for example). The song also should be cleaned up and mastered a little bit so it sounds smoother.

Overall: I have always liked a good solo piano piece, but this particular one catches my eye. It's a great arrangement for a classic Zelda game that is not only powerful, but it includes some calm elements at the same time. While there are still a couple things to clean up with this song, Zylance brings us a great piano-centered remix.

Rating: 8.8/10

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Administrative Changes

We've been having a busy summer here at RPS, we've all got our own stuff going on, but we're also trying to post and keep our blog updated. I've promoted Marim to administrator due to Reogan's increased absence. You can definitely thank her for all her updates to every single Song of the Week and Song of the Day post by adding the title and artist. Also, I finally linked every single OCR track to the review thread on OCR. Due to this there may be an influx of readers from OCR. This brings me to the final administrative issue that we have yet to resolve: tagging. Right now the Song of the Week series should be sufficiently tagged so that you can simply find the OverClocked ReMix tag and find all of the content we've looked at coming out of OCR. However, there are plenty of fictional stories and other features we've done on RPS that have tags that need to be consolidated. Therefore, consolidating tags is definitely on our agenda, as long as at least getting a few posts up each month (once a day is no longer realistic). There should be a few posts coming your way in the future. Personally, I'm working on 2 drafts right now, both involving music (one's a SotW) and there are also several other related feature drafts that we've yet to post simply because we haven't had time to thoroughly proofread them. Overall, if you have any suggestions about the content you'd like to see here or some other administrative changes we can make to improve the site, please contact me.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

A possibly problematic government bill

Bill S.978 might pose some problems to some of our readers and authors. Here is a good video explaining it.