Monday, November 23, 2015

Choicest VGM - VGM #207 - Genghis Khan II: Clan of the Gray Wolf - Mongolian Strategy

Soundtrack composed by: Michiru Ōshima (大島ミチル)

This track comes from a game that's relatively obscure in the West, no thanks to it being so old nowadays and the fact it's made by a Japanese company called KOEI. However, KOEI is one of the giants of Japan's gaming industry and the only company I personally recognise when it comes to PC game developers from that particular country (so it must be reasonably famous if I've even heard of them). Regardless of how well KOEI is know in the West, I somehow managed to play a copy of the game, many years ago on the boarding house computer. Along with games like Scorched Earth and Llamatron, it quickly became a favourite. This track plays in the background when you're viewing the strategic layer for the Mongolian steppes. I'm not quite sure if the track is called "Mongolian Strategy" but it's a name I spotted on a website and it seems to fit. I'm also not entirely sure if Michiru Ōshima is the composer of the DOS soundtrack but I do know she was apparently uncredited for the NES version of the soundtrack, plus she has a pretty distinguished career as a composer, so it's most likely she composed the DOS version of the soundtrack too.

The music was recorded through DOSBOX and consequently this is DOSBOX's emulation of OPL3 I believe, the FM synthesis sound chip used in a lot of old Soundblaster cards.

[ VIDEO: Choicest VGM - VGM #207 - Genghis Khan II: Clan of the Gray Wolf - Mongolian Strategy ]

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Spotlight Sunday - Week 48 - 2015

Spotlight Sunday is a way for Choicest Games to feature PC games that are scheduled for release on the following week - games that we consider worthwhile checking out.

This week (23rd November to the 29th November 2015) there's only one game that comes to mind when I think of games worth checking out and it happens to be a soppy visual novel. "Have you gone mad Mark?" you must be asking, well there's a bit more to it than that as you shall see. For this week, this is the game I think is worth checking out:


  • Release Date: 24/11/2015
  • Availability: Steam - Not available for pre-order
As mentioned, this is a visual novel so if you don't like the genre at all, you can stop reading now. However, if you like games with a strong plot, I daresay CLANNAD is going to be a game that hits the mark. Firstly, the company behind the game called VisualArts/Key have already released an old visual novel game on Steam that originally came out in 2004 called planetarian ~the reverie of a little planet~ (what's with the Japanese and the use of tildes in their game titles? Oh never mind). planetarian is a highly rated game on Steam with an "Overwhelmingly Positive" score of 98% from 585 reviews. Apparently it's very emotional despite the fact people say no choices can be made in the game (so I'm guessing it's a kinetic novel). CLANNAD also originally came out in 2004 and this Steam version promises to have higher definition graphics, Steam achievements and a thing called a "Dangopedia" for all the Westerners out there that are perplexed by Japanese culture. The reason you should take notice of CLANNAD is because it's not just any visual novel game since it happened to spawn a huge franchise in Japan thanks to its success. The original game was the best-selling PC game in Japan and was ported to several other platforms such as Playstation 2, PSP, Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PS Vita. It also exists in other media such as manga, comic anthologies, light novels, art books, audio dramas, music and anime (the anime was also critically acclaimed). So even if you're not big into these kind of games but are even remotely curious as to what is considered a Japanese gaming masterpiece, CLANNAD is probably worth a look.

So are you interested or excited about any PC games being released next week? Which games are you looking forward to?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Where are they now? - Frank Klepacki

Screenshot of Command & Conquer: Red Alert
Hell March, the main theme for C&C: Red Alert, is one of Klepacki's most famous and critically acclaimed works

Frank Klepacki is probably a man who needs little introduction as he's no doubt one of the best PC game composers of all time. This guy has worked at many of the big name publishers such as Electronic Arts, Sega, Ubisoft, Disney, SSI, Hasbro and Virgin Interactive and if you ever played a game by Westwood Studios or Petroglyph, there's a very strong chance you've already heard his music before. I've actually played quite a few games by both of these developers, in fact I've probably played at least 12 of them which means I've also heard 12 soundtracks composed by this giant of video games music.

What some people might not know is that despite having a prolific career with game soundtracks, he's also done a lot of composing for other media too. Since the 2000s, Klepacki has licensed music for film and television, as well as releasing several independent albums over the years. He's also toured with the band The Family Stone (of Sly & The Family Stone fame) as a drummer between 2008 - 2011.

So he's done quite a bit with his life and he has a legion of fans but what is he up to nowadays? Well he's still composing music as Audio Director of Petroglyph Games (a developer that came into existence shortly after the demise of Westwood Studios) and his most recent work can be heard in a Free-to-Play strategy game called Battle Battalions.

1974 - Frank Klepacki is born on 25 May 1974.

1982 - Klepacki receives his first drum set at age 8.

1985 - Klepacki begins performing as a professional drummer at age 11.

1991 - After learning to program in BASIC on a Tandy 1000, Klepacki developed an interest in computer games. At the age of 17 he applied for the role of game tester at Westwood Studios but also submitted in a demo tape. The company liked what they heard and Klepacki was made responsible for scoring the NES port of Dungeons & Dragons: Dragonstrike as well as the PC game Eye of the Beholder II.

1992 - The Legend of Kyrandia is released. Klepacki was responsible for scoring its music. It was also this year that Dune II, arguably the first Real-Time Strategy (RTS) game in history, was released. Klepacki was responsible for composing Dune II's soundtrack too.

1993 - Lands of Lore is released. Klepacki was responsible for scoring its music.

1995 - Command & Conquer is released. Klepacki composed the soundtrack as well as acted as one of the soldiers in the cutscenes. He also provided his voice for the GDI Commando.

1996 - Command & Conquer: Red Alert is released. Klepacki composed the soundtrack and the game ended up winning a PC Gamer award for Best Game Soundtrack. Klepacki was originally developing Hell March to be a NOD track for the Command & Conquer expansion Covert Operations but after Westwood Studios director Brett Sperry heard it, he insisted Klepacki use it as the theme song for Red Alert. Klepacki initially wanted to give the Red Alert soundtrack a sci-fi camp feel to it but was instructed to make it grittier (it seems like he got his wish for Red Alert 2 though).

1997 - Blade Runner is released. Klepacki composed the soundtrack mimicking a lot of Vangelis's work on the film soundtrack. The reason for this is that Westwood Studios had the rights to use the music but unfortunately couldn't get access to the original master recordings.

1998 - Westwood Studios is acquired by EA. Dune 2000 is also released this year where Klepacki had the opportunity to update the soundtrack he composed for its predecessor, Dune II.

1999 - Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun is released. Klepacki was responsible for scoring the soundtrack.

2000 - Red Alert 2 is released. Klepacki was responsible for scoring the soundtrack.

2001 - Emperor: Battle for Dune is released. Klepacki focused on composing the cinematic and Atreides music.

2002 - Westwood Studios is liquidated. Klepacki offered to score Command & Conquer: Generals but didn't hear back from EA. Klepacki's last contribution to Westwood Studios was providing music and additional voices for the online sci-fi RPG Earth & Beyond. He also composed the soundtrack for Command & Conquer: Renegade which was also released in 2002.

2004 - Klepacki joined Petroglyph Games as its Audio Director.

2005 - Star Wars: Empire at War is released. Klepacki is a big fan of Star Wars and despite leaving most of John Williams's score intact, he claims that 20% of the score is original content.

2007 - Universe at War: Earth Assault is released. Klepacki is credited as the Audio Director.

2008 - Red Alert 3 is released. Despite Klepacki no longer working at EA he was invited back to compose three tracks for the game: Hell March 3, Grinder 2 and The Red Menace.

2012 - Hell March is ranked #7 on the Top 100 video game themes of all time by

2015 - Grey Goo and Battle Battalions are released. Klepacki composed the soundtracks to both of these games.

[ Wikipedia: Frank Klepacki ]
[ Frank Klepacki's official website ]
[ MobyGames: Frank Klepacki ]