Monday, November 28, 2016

Choicest VGM - VGM #258 - Sid Meier's Civilization - Aztec Theme



Original soundtrack composed by: Jeffery L. Briggs

We now feature our first track from the game that is used as a leader/civilization theme. We start off with the Aztec theme or Montezuma's theme which is actually a pretty special one as it's featured not only in the original Civilization but in Civilization II as well (again as a theme for the Aztecs and a variation of it is used as the Civ II intro music). The music is also featured in Sid Meier's Colonization when you meet, yep you guessed it, the Aztecs. The Civ 1 version of theme is pretty basic and the theme is only embellished in later games, but it's still one of the most memorable pieces of music from the game.

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 #258 - Sid Meier's Civilization - Aztec Theme ]


Sunday, November 27, 2016

Steam Games Sunday - 27 November 2016

Screenshot of Arizona Rose and the Pirates' Riddles
Arizona Rose and the Pirates' Riddles debuts this week on Steam Games Sunday in 8th place


  1. War Thunder
  2. Sid Meier's Civilization VI
  3. Rainbow Six Siege
  4. Marvel Heroes
  5. Company of Heroes 2
  6. Everyday Genius: SquareLogic
  7. Gems of War
  8. Arizona Rose and the Pirates' Riddles
  9. Steel Ocean
  10. Gauntlet

For today's Steam Games Sunday, we have three newcomers to the list: in 7th place, bumping Shadowrun Returns right off the list, is Arizona Rose and the Pirates' Riddles, a puzzle adventure filled with hidden object adventure puzzles and nonogram/picross-style puzzles. In 8th place, we have the Chinese competitor to World of Warships, Steel Ocean and in 10th place we have the remake to the classic 80s game Gauntlet (which is good fun in co-op).

The remaining games on the list you will have seen before but there has been some movement (besides War Thunder - that game will always be on top until two particular Choicest Games members stop playing it ;)). Sid Meier's Civilization VI has risen up the ranks again and instead of being in 4th place like it was last week, it's now back in 2nd place. Rainbow Six Siege drops down again to 3rd place and Marvel Heroes drops down to a respectable 4th place. Relic's WWII RTS Company of Heroes 2 shoots right back up to 5th place, pushing Everyday Genius: SquareLogic to 6th place. Gems of War has gained some ground too, where it was 9th place last week but is now in 7th place.

Anyway stay tuned for next Sunday to see if this list changes :). Are you playing any of the games on this list? How are you finding them?

Monday, November 21, 2016

Choicest VGM - VGM #257 - Sid Meier's Civilization - Loading Screen

Screenshot of Sid Meier's Civilization loading screen


Original soundtrack composed by: Jeffery L. Briggs

At the beginning of every Civilization game you were treated to a loading screen in the form of an animated slideshow showing the evolution of the Earth and life on it. I mean sure, most of the time you were just clicking things like crazy and going "come on! When's my game going to load?" so most of the time, you wouldn't be around to appreciate the entire duration of the loading screen, but I believe it's actually one of the most memorable loading screens in PC gaming since like every Civ game, it celebrates the accomplishments of mankind and shows how far we've come.

The loading screen is also memorable for me (and my brother) in particular as we had a bit of fun modifying the game's files to actually change the introductory text (usually with deriding comments aimed at the player). Ah my misspent youth.

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 #257 - Sid Meier's Civilization - Loading Screen ]


Sunday, November 20, 2016

Steam Games Sunday - 20 November 2016

Promotional image for Marvel Heroes 2016 with Doctor Strange
Doctor Strangelove or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb


  1. War Thunder
  2. Rainbow Six Siege
  3. Marvel Heroes
  4. Sid Meier's Civilization VI
  5. Everyday Genius: SquareLogic
  6. Master of Orion: Conquer the Stars
  7. League of Mermaids
  8. Shadowrun Returns
  9. Gems of War
  10. Sid Meier's Railroads!

For today's Steam Games Sunday it seems that there's actually been no change with respect to which games are actually on the Top 10 list of Steam games played this week by Choicest Games contributors; there hasn't even been much change in the rankings except for two games in particular. While War Thunder has remained in the #1 spot, Rainbow Six Siege has moved back to 2nd place, thanks to Civ VI dropping down two places to 4th place. Also, the biggest mover this week is Marvel Heroes which has pushed up from 5th place to 3rd: maybe it has something to do with the Doctor Strange content that was introduced to the game a couple of weeks ago? Everyday Genius: SquareLogic has moved up from 7th place to 5th place and Master of Orion: Conquer the Stars has remained in the same spot in 6th place. League of Mermaids dropped three places from 4th place down to 7th this week. Shadowrun Returns has remained in 8th place and Gems of War has moved up one spot from 10th last week to 9th this week. In 10th place we have Sid Meier's Railroads! which debuted on the list in 9th place last week.

Anyway, I have acquired some more RAM recently and I'm hoping that fixes some issues I've been having with Master of Orion so hopefully I'll get to invest some more time with it next week. We've also got several Civ VI multiplayer games going on at the same time so I'm actually surprised Civ VI dropped slightly on the list - but this will no doubt change for next week.

Anyway stay tuned for next Sunday to see if this list changes :). Are you playing any of the games on this list? How are you finding them?

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Sid Meier's Civilization 25th Anniversary Soundtrack Review

Album cover for Sid Meier's Civilization 25th Anniversary Soundtrack

  • Reviewed by: Mark Goninon
  • Name: Sid Meier's Civilization 25th Anniversary Soundtrack
  • Label: Microprose/Firaxis
  • Composer(s): Various
  • Number of Tracks: 19

To be honest, I'm not quite sure how you acquire this album. You see, I managed to purchase the Digital Deluxe edition of Sid Meier's Civilization VI and that was meant to come with a soundtrack of some description but I ended up with two soundtracks; one being this album which is known as the Civilization 25th Anniversary album and the other being the Civilization IV official soundtrack ... so I'm not sure if I have this particular soundtrack because I pre-ordered Civ VI, because I have the Digital Deluxe version or just because I own a copy of Civ VI... anyway, I'm going to assume I own this soundtrack because I own the Digital Deluxe version in accordance to what is said here on the Steam Store Page for the game:

Expand your empire further with the Civilization VI Digital Deluxe which includes the full base game, the 25th Anniversary Digital Soundtrack, and access to four post-launch DLC packs that will add new maps, scenarios, civilizations and leaders for a bundled discount.

Consequently, I don't think you're actually able to get this soundtrack anywhere else so it's quite exclusive, but what exactly is on this album?

There are 19 tracks in total on this album, all 499 kbps OGG files and they sample the soundtracks from all Sid Meier's Civilization games to date, from Civilization I all the way to the most recent one. I'm not quite sure why they decided to switch from the more portable MP3 format to OGG Vorbis, considering previous Civ albums used the MP3 format, but there you have it. If you're into retro music from 1990s computer games though, you'll be disappointed to know that Civ V and Civ VI are overrepresented here with more than half of the tracks hailing from these two games. And for those of you expecting to hear Christopher Tin's "Baba Yetu" or "Sogni di Volare" on this album, you'll also be disappointed, but I suppose that's because Chris would prefer to sell his music on his own.

It's a tough job picking the best tracks from a game franchise that spans 25 years but thankfully, I think most of the choices here were good ones. For Civilization I, we only get to hear the introductory theme (which has somehow been misnamed as "Civilization IV Opening Theme Music" – come on guys, it's not that hard!) and not any of the themes for each civilization in the game, which is a shame because there are some memorable ones in there, like the theme for the Romans or the Greeks. The introductory theme to Civ I is a classic though and does deserve to be remembered; it definitely deserves a spot on this album, if only the quality wasn't so grainy in the middle, but that might just be an unavoidable side effect of extracting oldschool audio.

For Civilization II we only get to hear two themes: the Greek theme and Montezuma's theme. Once again, the track names are incorrect claiming the Greek theme is actually "the Incan theme" and that Montezuma's theme is actually the "intro theme" (although to be fair, the intro theme does borrow elements from Montezuma's theme). While these tracks are okay they're definitely missing out on some of the other choice tracks on the Civ II soundtrack such as China's theme aka "The Shining Path".

There are four tracks that feature from Civilization III and they have some real classics here: not only do they have the hypnotic drums of the Civ III menu music but also three of the Modern Era tracks – and they just happen to be my favourite tracks from the game (nothing like bombarding a coastal city with a battleship to some faux-Kenny G mixed with Latin guitar :)). Smash, Stars and Techno are all worth a listen to, and are probably the last time we had rock, adult contemporary and electronica used in a Civ soundtrack. Thank you Roger Briggs and Mark Cromer.

The 25th Anniversary soundtrack features two tracks from Civilization IV and they are by far the weakest offerings. There's no "Baba Yetu" of course but they do feature an alternate track that they were going to use for the intro (but let's just be glad they opted for Christopher Tin's composition instead). There's also the Ancient era music from Civ IV which is great for nostalgia's sake but not much else.

The album features a whopping five tracks from the Civ V soundtrack but just as it was with Civ III, they're all very good choices. I especially love the fact that out of Civ V vanilla, Gods & Kings and Brave New World, they decided to go with the original Civ V menu theme by Michael Curran which I felt was a better fit for the game's Art Deco style (there's only so much of "TERRRRAA – NOOOOOVUM" a man can take). There's also the beautiful rendition of "I Vow to Thee, My Country" that serves as the Peace music for Queen Elizabeth I as well as a militaristic, menacing, sea shanty version of it too that is used as her War music (Geoff Knorr does a great job with these tracks). You also have some epic peacetime music for Genghis Khan as well as some danceable war music for Brazil's Pedro II.

Finally, the album finishes off with five tracks from the latest Civ VI, although if you ordered the Digital Deluxe version, I'm pretty sure you'll get the Civ VI OST anyway, making these tracks redundant. Also, while I'm a fan of Brazil's Industrial Era theme, a lively, playful one that sounds like it belongs in a Broadway musical, and Greece's heroic Atomic Era theme, the other tracks that were picked are probably not the strongest.

Score – 8/10


There were some missed opportunities on this soundtrack in terms of featuring more music from the older Civilization games like Civ I and Civ II, and there aren't any Christopher Tin tracks on this album, but the tracks they've sampled from Civ III and Civ V are actually really good and help make this a worthwhile album to own, especially if you're a Civilization fan.

If you're interested in purchasing the soundtrack, I believe it's only available if you purchase the Digital Deluxe version of Sid Meier's Civilization VI which is available here.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Choicest VGM - VGM #256 - Sid Meier's Civilization - Introduction

Screenshot of menu screen in Sid Meier's Civilization


Original soundtrack composed by: Jeffery L. Briggs

Time to rewind back to 1991 when a little turn-based computer game called Sid Meier's Civilization started an affliction that exists to this very day; you'll often hear Civilization fans uttering the phrase "just... one... more... turn..." and it all began with this one. To commemorate the release of the 6th game in the Civilization series I decided it was about time we revisited the music that made the Civilization series; the original Civilization soundtrack was composed by Jeffery L. Briggs, who I talked a little bit about in this "Where are they now?" article.

This particular track plays when the game initially loads up and brings you to the main menu; once at the main menu the music just loops one phrase ad infinitum. The music might sound primitive by today's standards but the fanfare has become synonymous with the Civilization series, being re-used at the beginning of Sid Meier's Colonization and even featuring recently in a trailer narrated by Sean Bean.

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 #256 - Sid Meier's Civilization - Introduction ]


Sunday, November 13, 2016

Steam Games Sunday - 13 November 2016

Screenshot of Sid Meier's Railroads!
Choo! Choo! Sid Meier's Railroads debuts at #9 on the list

  1. War Thunder
  2. Sid Meier's Civilization VI
  3. Rainbow Six Siege
  4. League of Mermaids
  5. Marvel Heroes
  6. Master of Orion: Conquer the Stars
  7. Everyday Genius: SquareLogic
  8. Shadowrun Returns
  9. Sid Meier's Railroads!
  10. Gems of War

The top 4 this week hasn't changed since last week with War Thunder still at #1, Civilization VI at #2, Rainbow Six Siege at #3 and League of Mermaids still at #4. Marvel Heroes has seen quite a lot of playtime this week though pushing it up from the #8 spot to #5. Master of Orion: Conquer the Stars has also increased its ranking slightly since it's in the #6 spot this week, up from the #7 spot last week (I actually managed to finish my first game in this and have started a second - expect a review sometime after the completion of my second game :)). Everyday Genius: SquareLogic used to rate highly on the Steam Games Sunday Top 10 list but in recent weeks has started to lose ground. It's now down from 5th place to 7th place. Shadowrun Returns is still on the top 10 this week but has dropped from 6th place to 8th place.

A newcomer to the list is actually an old game from 2006 called Sid Meier's Railroads!. Interestingly enough, I don't believe this game was available for purchase on Steam before... maybe it was taken down or maybe it wasn't available for Australians - otherwise I surely would've got the game earlier. Anyway, good to see a classic Sid Meier game get some playtime - okay it's no Railroad Tycoon but I have a soft spot for transport company management games. Sid Meier's Railroads! made it onto the list in 9th place this week.

Finishing off the list, we have the return of a game that used to be played quite a bit: the free-to-play match-3 RPG from the makers of Puzzle Quest, Gems of War.

Anyway stay tuned for next Sunday to see if this list changes :). Are you playing any of the games on this list? How are you finding them?

Monday, November 7, 2016

Choicest VGM - VGM #255 - Detroit - Test Prototype Car



Soundtrack composed by: Christopher J. Denman and Jason P. Rinaldi

We now come to the final track we'll feature from the automobile company management game Detroit. This one only plays once you've created a new car design and built a prototype for testing. It has a sense of seriousness, a sense of foreboding even, as the car designers and engineers nervously await the outcome from the testing team. Pro tip though, your car should not be handling corners like in the screenshot above.

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 #255 - Detroit - Test Prototype Car ]


Sunday, November 6, 2016

Steam Games Sunday - 6 November 2016

Screenshot from Master of Orion Conquer the Stars
Master of Orion: Conquer the Stars debuts on the Steam Games Sunday list this week at 7th place

  1. War Thunder
  2. Sid Meier's Civilization VI
  3. Rainbow Six Siege
  4. League of Mermaids
  5. Everyday Genius: SquareLogic
  6. Shadowrun Returns
  7. Master of Orion: Conquer the Stars
  8. Marvel Heroes
  9. Company of Heroes 2
  10. King's Quest

It was bound to happen: Rainbow Six Siege has finally been dropped from the #2 spot, taken over by the latest turn-based strategy game to have Sid Meier's name slapped onto it: Sid Meier's Civilization VI. Civ VI is now just below War Thunder which is still the #1 game played on Steam by Choicest Games contributors. Rainbow Six Siege is now in third place followed closely by physics match-3 game League of Mermaids that has shot up from 6th place to 4th place. Eveyday Genius: SquareLogic remains on the list in 5th place while RPG Shadowrun Returns has gone up slightly from 7th place to 6th place.

Debuting this week is the reboot to the Master of Orion series which is also known as Master of Orion: Conquer the Stars. I've been playing the tutorial mission quite a bit and have almost finished my first game, however it seems that despite the mission being a tutorial mission, I'm destined to lose the game if I can't make my own luck :). I have declared war on the reptilian Sakkra which hopefully won't be my undoing.

The rest of the list contains familiar games, such as superhero MMORPG Marvel Heroes now in 8th place, up from 9th, Company of Heroes 2 dropping from 4th place to 9th place, and King's Quest remaining in the #10 spot.

Anyway stay tuned for next Sunday to see if this list changes :). Are you playing any of the games on this list? How are you finding them?

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

King's Quest - Chapter 5: The Good Knight Review

Screenshot of King's Quest with an old King Graham fishing
This isn't exactly what I had in mind when Graham says "always seek adventure!"


  • Reviewed by: Mark Goninon
  • Developer: The Odd Gentlemen
  • Publisher: Sierra
  • Release Date: 26 October 2016
  • Time played: 2.9 hours

A Good Knight is the name of the fifth chapter for The Odd Gentlemen’s King’s Quest, published by the new Sierra. This chapter is definitely set after the events in King's Quest V but I'm not sure how long after. Judging by Graham's elderly appearance though, I’m guessing it’s not that long before the events of the “present day” where King Graham is bedridden and telling his stories to Gwendolyn.

Unlike chapters 1 through 4, A Good Knight was released very soon after the previous chapter – less than a month in fact, which can sometimes be construed as a cause for concern. So is this final chapter to the new King’s Quest a sloppy rush job or is it an ending befitting of kings?

What I like:


Music

Just like the previous chapters, the music in King’s Quest is top notch, borrowing themes used in previous games.

Voice acting

Most of the voice actors will be familiar to those who have played the previous chapters and there are no complaints in that department.

References to the original series

Just like previous chapters, there are quite a few references to the original King’s Quest games. I managed to notice quite a few to King’s Quest V in this one (and there are even a couple of visual gags that fans of the older King’s Quest, King’s Quest II and King’s Quest VI are going to love).

Puns

It wouldn’t be a Sierra adventure game without puns and again there are a few of them, but perhaps not as many as other chapters.

Unreliable Narrator

This was already established in previous chapters but in this chapter it is directly responsible for creating some interesting puzzles. You even have to rely on your own memory of previous chapters in order to progress through the game!

Revisiting Daventry

You get to revisit (most) of Daventry as it was depicted in the first Chapter which would appeal to those that didn’t like the linear nature of the other chapters. Daventry is slightly emptier, lonelier and desolate compared to the one in the first chapter though, which in a way is fantastic because these are all things that the elderly have to contend with and this chapter brings them to the forefront for the player to experience.

What I dislike:


Revisiting Daventry

The cynical ones amongst us could say that revisiting Daventry was a good way to recycle art assets. Not only that, but you will encounter only 3-4 characters you can actually talk to in this chapter. So it depends if you’re a “half empty” or “half full” kind of person.

Short

This chapter is one of the shortest. I completed the chapter just shy of 3 hours.

Flat ending

While the build up to the ending was good and I think The Odd Gentlemen has ensured there was little in the way of loose ends, I still felt the ending was flat. There was quite a lot of emotion prior to the end but once you arrived, it was a bit anti-climactic and the day seemed just like any other day in Daventry when really it shouldn’t have – oh well maybe more will be revealed in the epilogue, assuming it is still being released.

Score – 7/10 (Good)


A Good Knight manages to tie most loose ends, and despite being short and having a rather flat ending, the chapter gives you the chance to revisit the kingdom of Daventry one last time as an elderly King Graham who is starting to lose the plot (mind the pun).

Is the game worth $9.99 USD?: Yes. While this chapter is one of the shortest chapters in the series there’s a decent amount of gameplay here and fans of the original King’s Quest series are in for a treat.

If you like this game, you might like…

[ LINK: Official King's Quest Website ]