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Re: Game Music Reviews

I'm serious about video game music. But trust me, I'm not at the point where I'm deadly serious. That's besides the point anyway, man. This thread was never about attacking people--It was about helping them. I've learned through the years of being on forums (one could argue battling online addiction in the process) exactly what generates post counts and passionate responses. It is my aim to get passionate responses, and detailed ones at that, into vgm reviews.

Here's a review where I disagree with the assessment on the first track, but that I generally praise for talking about keys, chords, and half-steps. Right now I couldn't do a vgm piano soundtrack review for shoot, so it's much appreciated when someone who seems to have a good understanding of piano music writes a review. Had the person felt very strongly about the album I'd expect to see more talk about why he found the chords boring or more breakdowns for each track.

http://www.rpgfan.com/soundtracks/brand … index.html

Last edited by vert1 (Jun 13, 2010)

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Re: Game Music Reviews

vert1 wrote:

I've learned through the years of being on forums (one could argue battling online addiction in the process) exactly what generates post counts and passionate responses. It is my aim to get passionate responses, and detailed ones at that, into vgm reviews.

I do not understand how expanding one's vocabulary beyond what a majority of the readers care about within the context of a review is a form of showing passion.

I will say this: THE worst reviews I've written were on albums I had a totally neutral opinion on. There just...isn't much to say about them and I end up wondering why I wrote anything at all. Anything I actually had a strong opinion on (and coincidentally, probably knew inside and out) was easily cranked out and I was generally pleased with the results after the first draft. Likewise, some reviews are painful to read because the general tone is that the writer is forcing themselves to write something about an album they are otherwise indifferent to. These probably do the album more of a disservice overall than any kind of good.

And sorry...no amount of fancy words has ever made VGM piano albums interesting to me. And that is bad, considering I'm generally a fan of the tracks chosen for arrangement on the Falcom ones and most of the FF ones.

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Re: Game Music Reviews

GoldfishX wrote:

And sorry...no amount of fancy words has ever made VGM piano albums interesting to me.

Hahahaha... nice.

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Re: Game Music Reviews

GoldfishX wrote:

I will say this: THE worst reviews I've written were on albums I had a totally neutral opinion on. There just...isn't much to say about them and I end up wondering why I wrote anything at all. Anything I actually had a strong opinion on (and coincidentally, probably knew inside and out) was easily cranked out and I was generally pleased with the results after the first draft. Likewise, some reviews are painful to read because the general tone is that the writer is forcing themselves to write something about an album they are otherwise indifferent to. These probably do the album more of a disservice overall than any kind of good.

I think in those scenarios the writer just needs to more carefully plan out his or her angle. It's very easy to come up with the angle of "This rocks and he's why" or "This sucks and here's why", but if your angle is "I don't feel any passion for this and I'm going to display my lack of passion", you're doomed to fail. However, even if you feel something is squarely mediocre, you can still come up with an interesting approach to a review. For example, if the subject at hand is widely loved/hated, then you can make the argument as to why it isn't so great/awful, even if you're not proposing the completely opposite end of the spectrum. I think I've written some interesting pieces with that approach, maybe even more interesting than my typical gush/bash review. Granted, if everyone appears to be indifferent to the subject, then you have to be even more creative. :)

Last edited by tri-Ace Super Fan (Jun 13, 2010)

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Re: Game Music Reviews

Ashley Winchester wrote:

As for writing reviews, I don't really know where my future with them lies. Still, as egotistical as it may seem, when I write anything I write for myself first because in essence sometimes putting my thoughts in writing helps forge my opinion on a something. If someone reads it and likes it cool, if not than I haven't wasted my time. However, while it's not essential to enjoy a piece of music, I'll freely admit I am probably interested in the context of pieces beyond what is necessary.

Sorry for bringing up such a ancient thread, but I remembered posting this here and its become that relevant lately.

I was trying to write something up for the soundtracks for Star Gladiator and Plasma Sword but it just wasn't working. So, I switched gears and wrote about Plasma Sword as a (game) whole and it just started to flow like it should.

So, yeah, I think I'm done with reviewing soundtracks... there are other reasons behind my decision but mainly if you don't feel it anymore you just don't, you know?

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Re: Game Music Reviews

I think by default it'd be a lot easier to review games than music unless you've been properly educated in the latter as there are so many more clearly defined separate elements for games (graphics, controls, AI, longevity, story, and of course music).

Never really tried my hand at game reviews but it seems like that would be the case.

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Re: Game Music Reviews

Adam Corn wrote:

I think by default it'd be a lot easier to review games than music unless you've been properly educated in the latter as there are so many more clearly defined separate elements for games (graphics, controls, AI, longevity, story, and of course music).

Never really tried my hand at game reviews but it seems like that would be the case.

I think you've got a point, Adam.

Personally, I love writing the occassional Game Review, but I've always withheld from writing soundtrack reviews, simply because I feel I lack the necessary knowledge on music to bring any worthwile discussion to the table.

I AM very much into reviewing games lately though.

Xenoblade even tickled me enough to submit my review on other game sites, which is something I've never done before.
I'm working on a review for Capcom's excellent Ghost Trick now, by the way smile

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Re: Game Music Reviews

Ashley Winchester wrote:

So, yeah, I think I'm done with reviewing soundtracks ... if you don't feel it anymore you just don't, you know?

Completely. I can't write a goddamn thing anymore. No use fighting it; if something ain't there, it ain't there. Might as well spend that time with something that is there instead.

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Re: Game Music Reviews

People need to investigate the etymology of the term "review". It indicates a re-evaluation of some piece of work after the fact and not before—the fact here being that someone, somewhere, somehow listened to an album/soundtrack and is now ready to analyze and form an opinion. For the most part, however, the vast majority of game music album reviews read like impressions formed during an album listen, and less like focused analyses of the intrinsic and contextual qualities of the album's music itself. I think this phenomenon and misunderstanding of what a review actually is came about due to the interminable influence of popular video game magazines from back around the turn of the millennium. Along with many early game news-coverage websites that mimicked these mags, the writing formats commonly seen in these publications were and still are, to be blunt, full of shit. A review is not a preview, insomuch that a preview gives both a writer's impressions on the matter, and how to play the game itself (or, in the case of game music: an amateurish description of the music itself, and not an evaluation). Reviews shouldn't be used to recommend albums based on impressions—they should thoroughly evaluate and compare the music inside to the whole back catalog of music from the same artist, and how the music works in its prepared context.

That's the way I'm approaching my reviews at SEMO, and it's also responsible for my unwillingness to phone reviews in and create faux-reviews that merely describe what can already be easily heard on media-sharing websites. Most of the reviews being submitted these days forgo detailed analysis and art appreciation for description of technical details and basic opinions that are never fully-developed with extensive arguments and research. I don't think enough reviewers put requisite effort into researching the game itself, or perhaps they don't know enough about the artist(s) themselves, making any analysis flawed on principle due to a lack of knowledge. For my upcoming Pokemon album reviews, I'm going to avoid the trap-doors and common pits that past reviewers have fallen into by not knowing the Game Freak sound team through-and-through, and by not recognizing the importance of so-called "jingles" and "short tracks", musical selections that act as minor details used to add diversity and contrast to the Pokemon game world. To me: reviews need to be the definitive versions of personal opinions, richly-crafted and specific in depiction. Impressions need to be separate, and big editorials-cum-features should focus on broader topics than individual album releases and specific soundtracks.

I think a lot of the so-called "cerebral" game music critics out there aren't actually that well-informed both on a musicological level, and at the level of writing insightful, compelling, and polished articles. Lazy editing factors into that as well, though guys like Chris usually do a good job of presenting the original reviews in an online context.

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Re: Game Music Reviews

In other words "I'm a pompous know-it-all ass who's better than you".

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Re: Game Music Reviews

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the above comments are those of Leon's and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions held by SquareEnixMusic.com.

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Re: Game Music Reviews

I don't think it's "requisite effort" at all to familiarize yourself with a composer's whole discography or with the context of the music, anymore than someone should be required to play every game in a series (or every game created by the producer/designer/whatever) just to review a single game. That's all a matter of target audience, not one of being poorly researched or lazy or what have you. If someone want to review a soundtrack as a completely independent work, without taking into consideration how it compares to the artist's prior work or how it does or doesn't compliment the game, that's a perfectly acceptable decision. If, on the other hand, someone wants to target the diehard fans who have heard everything by said artist, that's fine too. The latter approach isn't inherently better, but it is inherently more limited in terms of target audience. Going into how the music works in context can offer interesting perspective into why the composer made his or her choices, but if your reader only cares about listening to the music on its own, it's not essential information.

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Re: Game Music Reviews

Leon wrote:

Hi guys, I just registered an account on this forum earlier this week so I could resurrect an 18-month-old thread, poke holes in the egos of many of the forum-goers (who have written "impression"-style reviews), and advertise my upcoming work on SEMO.

Cool story bro.

(This is the meanest thing I've done in weeks; I'm sure Karma will catch up to me soon. Maybe my internet will go out for a day, or I'll die in some freak accident. Srsly tho, I do await Leon's critical analysis of Pokémon music -- see if his thorough, detailed reviews bring something worthwhile to the table.)

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Re: Game Music Reviews

Hey: I want to clarify on what I posted. It's inconsiderate, that's true enough.

I like the work that Patrick, Chris and others do, as a hobby of theirs and a definite passion. And I think that they've done great articles on game music albums in the past and continuously—I wouldn't have gotten into this if it weren't for the many game music articles I've read on SEMO for such a long time. I want them to keep writing the stuff they want to write, and I don't think I've truly expressed my gratitude to Chris for putting up with this episode.

When I was writing that post, I never meant anything personal, and I never outright targeted anyone for writing "shitty articles". From my perspective, though, I'm just not seeing a specific kind of game music analysis that's sorely-lacking, and I got a little out of control with the euphoria granted from finally coming across a moderately-active game music forum where I could be more vocal about my opinions. There are multiple ways to write about game music, and I strongly believe in providing a new perspective both through a different opinion and through a different methodology. As far as I know, Chris' efforts haven't been wasted, nor have the works of others; I'm a little too enthused over mine, which happens from time to time.

At the end of the day, though, I know what it feels like to think I'm being personally-targeted by generalizations, especially when I know that generalizations always have exceptions and, ultimately, I'm not going to name either the exceptions or any other game music writer in the "non-preferred" category. So: I'm sorry for looking so out-of-place and, according to some, "pompous".

No need to talk about having a bad week or anything like that, either. This is just my candid reaction and warming-down. That's all. And if you want to bash me over the head over it, please know that I'm human too, and that I'm here to apologize, not argue.

Last edited by Leon (Jun 10, 2012)

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Re: Game Music Reviews

Ramza wrote:

(This is the meanest thing I've done in weeks; I'm sure Karma will catch up to me soon. Maybe my internet will go out for a day, or I'll die in some freak accident. Srsly tho, I do await Leon's critical analysis of Pokémon music -- see if his thorough, detailed reviews bring something worthwhile to the table.)

If that's the meanest thing you've done in weeks, karma will probably just drop a rain on you on a summer day. tongue

But thankfully I don't believe in karma otherwise I will be royally fucked soon.

Also, game music reviews are kinda meh, unless they're about some really obscure stuff that even getting a rip is somewhat difficult.

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Re: Game Music Reviews

Leon,

No harm no foul. Just make good on those Pokémon reviews. I am serious about wanting to read them! I'll be the first to admit I don't know the context for a lot of the Pokémon music, as I haven't beaten most of them.

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Re: Game Music Reviews

Well: I can't tell when people are being serious or sarcastic on the Internet anymore, so you had me worried there Patrick. smile

I think you'll like the reviews. But I'm also working on filling out more Technosoft articles and reviving the editorials section on our website, too, so I've got a lot to do. Thank you for taking interest.

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Re: Game Music Reviews

Leon wrote:

Well: I can't tell when people are being serious or sarcastic on the Internet anymore, so you had me worried there Patrick. smile

I think you'll like the reviews. But I'm also working on filling out more Technosoft articles and reviving the editorials section on our website, too, so I've got a lot to do. Thank you for taking interest.

Very cool stuff. Can't wait to see what comes of it.

Speaking of Technosoft -- have you ever heard / found volumes 13 and 14 in their sound series? They were for some visual novel / dating sim, *I think* ... and are apparently quite obscure.

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Re: Game Music Reviews

Yeah: me and Chris were pondering on how to handle those albums, knowing full-and-well that they'd take a while to purchase from the Technosoft store, or perhaps through Yahoo! Japan. IDK if Chris has them at this point, and he's got plenty of things to spend his hard-earned cash on.

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