Monday, December 26, 2016

Choicest VGM - Kalinka

Screenshot of Peter the Great in Sid Meier's Civilization VI
Kalinka is used as the theme for Russia in Sid Meier's Civilization VI

Continuing on from last week's VGM Monday, we're going to take a look at a piece of music that served as the inspiration for Russia's theme on the Civilization IV soundtrack. So let's have a look at this version of "Kalinka" which was performed in Moscow in 1965 by Yevgeny Belyaev and the Red Army Choir (as shown in the video).

The original version of this song was composed in 1860 (so around the same era as the American folk song "Hard Times Come Again No More") by Ivan Larionov. The song has a speedy tempo and light-hearted lyrics and the word "kalinka" actually refers to a plant called the "snowball tree". The song is not only famous in Russia but around the world; it can even be found playing in North American ice hockey arenas! Kalinka was eventually arranged into an operatic aria which is probably the inspiration for the Modern Era version of this track in Civilization VI (it seems to be the only track in Civ VI to even feature a choir IIRC).

[ VIDEO: "Kalinka" - The Red Army Choir ]


Sunday, December 25, 2016

Steam Games Sunday - 25 December 2016

Skyrim skyrockets to 2nd place this week

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

There's been some pretty big changes this week thanks to two contributors for Choicest Games (one of them being me) having not really played any games in the past couple of weeks. War Thunder still remains in the number one spot but check out Skyrim which is now in second place! Somebody at Choicest Games really likes Skyrim and it's no surprise that it's been one of the nominated games for the "Test of Time" Steam award today (although I went with Civilization V, even though it's technically not a game I still play anymore, since Civ VI is now my go-to Civ game. To be honest, none of the nominations really appealed to me, but I digress...).

With Skyrim in second place, this means Civ VI has been pushed down to 3rd place and Company of Heroes down to 4th. Marvel Heroes has gone up a few places from 8th to 5th and Rainbow Six Siege, a game that is usually in the top 3, has gone down to 6th place (although this might change once I return from holiday :)).

The remaining games haven't been played much at all (2 hours or less) but they still have made the list due to a lack of diversity in the games played this week. We have Master of Orion: Conquer the Stars in 7th place, Everyday Genius: SquareLogic in 8th place, Gems of War in 9th and Arizona Rose and the Pirates' Riddles in 10th 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?

Also, as this Sunday just happens to be Christmas Day, on behalf of Choicest Games, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Choicest VGM - Hard Times Come Again No More

Hard Times (Come Again No More) is the theme for America in Civ VI

We're going to do something different for today's VGM Monday; for today's post we're featuring a piece of music that served as inspiration for America's theme on the Civilization IV soundtrack. I'll eventually get around to reviewing the official Civilization VI soundtrack, which I'm really enjoying, but before we do, let's have a look at this version of "Hard Times Come Again No More" by Kate and Anna McGarrigle (as shown in the video).

The original version of the song was a parlor song written by Stephen Foster and published in 1854. It was apparently a very popular song in its day, not only in America but Europe as well. The song has been performed many times since the 19th century with some even being performed by famous artists of the 20th century such as Dolly Parton, Bruce Springsteen, Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan.

[ VIDEO: Kate & Anna McGarrigle - Hard times come again no more ]


Sunday, December 18, 2016

Steam Games Sunday - 18 December 2016

Company of Heroes shoots back onto the list in the #3 spot.

  1. War Thunder
  2. Sid Meier's Civilization VI
  3. Company of Heroes
  4. Rainbow Six Siege
  5. Arizona Rose and the Pirates' Riddles
  6. Skyrim
  7. Company of Heroes 2
  8. Marvel Heroes
  9. Fractured Space
  10. Master of Orion: Conquer the Stars

There haven't been many changes to the order of the games appearing on this week's Steam Games Sunday list - this may have something to do with the fact that two contributors for Choicest Games are currently on holiday. The biggest mover has to be Company of Heroes though which has returned to the list in the #3 spot, despite the classic WWII RTS by Relic not appearing on last week's list at all.

War Thunder once again remains in the #1 spot along with Civ VI in the #2 spot. Rainbow Six Siege however, gets pushed down from the #3 spot to #4. The rest of the games on the list follow a similar order to last week, some only displaced by one spot: we have Arizona Rose and the Pirates' Riddles in the #5 spot, Skyrim in the #6 spot and Company of Heroes 2 in the #7 spot. Marvel Heroes has gone up slightly and is now in 8th place, just above Fractured Space which is in 9th place. Finally, at 10th place we have Master of Orion: Conquer the Stars.

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, December 12, 2016

Choicest VGM - VGM #260 - Sid Meier's Civilization - Indian Theme

Screenshot of Gandhi from Sid Meier's Civilization 1


Original soundtrack composed by: Jeffery L. Briggs

Okay, the Indian theme isn't actually one of my favourites from the Civ soundtrack but it's definitely memorable and so is the civ, thanks to the ridiculous victory I managed to pull off whilst playing the original Civilization. In the original Civilization, you have two ways of winning the game: a domination victory by destroying all your enemies or a scientific victory by being the first nation to have a spaceship reach Alpha Centauri. While India (the nation I was playing as) was in the space race, it came quite late to the party: other civilizations were already building several modules and it was only a matter of time before they launched. I considered my options. "If I want the ship to get there fast enough it has to be quite light - it has to have minimal modules", I thought to myself. "However, there is no way I'm going to be able to build enough modules in time, even for a bare-bones ship". That was when I came to the revelation of what does "bare-bones" actually mean? I soon discovered that after building only one spaceship structural module, it gave me the option to launch the ship! Sure, it had no thrusters, no solar panels, nobody living on the damn thing and it had a 0% chance of success (probably because there were no habitation modules) but hey, it's still technically a spaceship launched from Earth right? Turns out the game agreed with me as several turns later, I won the game all thanks to my piece of scrap metal that managed to find its way to Alpha Centauri. Nice.

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 #260 - Sid Meier's Civilization - Indian Theme ]


Sunday, December 11, 2016

Steam Games Sunday - 11 December 2016

Blast from the past: Skyrim debuts on the Steam Games Sunday list at #5

  1. War Thunder
  2. Sid Meier's Civilization VI
  3. Rainbow Six Siege
  4. Arizona Rose and the Pirates' Riddles
  5. Skyrim
  6. Company of Heroes 2
  7. Fractured Space
  8. Marvel Heroes
  9. Fantasy Mosaics 14: Fourth Colour
  10. Master of Orion: Conquer the Stars

For this week's Steam Games Sunday we have a newcomer that's not a very new game at all: Skyrim, coming in at a very respectable 5th place. However, the rest of the list is mostly the same. Again, War Thunder is still in the number one spot but closing the gap is Sid Meier's Civilization VI in 2nd place; this means that Rainbow Six Siege has dropped down slightly to 3rd place. You know how I said last week that Arizona Rose and the Pirates' Riddles would most likely drop off the list this week?. Turns out I was wrong! It's still being played heaps so it must have good replay value - I suppose there's enough puzzles in the game to keep things fresh, even if you've solved it in the past.

Company of Heroes 2 is still in 6th place and Fractured Space still remains in 7th. Marvel Heroes has dropped down a few places to 8th place and another nonogram/Picross-style game takes 9th place: Fantasy Mosaics 14: Fourth Colour. In 10th place, we have an old favourite of mine Master of Orion: Conquer the Stars: it seems a recent patch has made the game even closer to MOO2 as it's reintroduced the concept of leaders and Antarans! Unfortunately, it meant my Silicoid campaign save game is no longer functional, but I've started a new game as the Soviet Space Bears, er... I mean... the Bulrathi.

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?

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Choicest VGM - VGM #259 - Sid Meier's Civilization - Greek Theme

Alexander the Great from Sid Meier's Civilization


Original soundtrack composed by: Jeffery L. Briggs

Apologies for the delays in getting this Choicest VGM post out (it's not quite VGM Monday any more, at least where I am!) but here we are treated to another track from the original Civilization: the Greek theme, played whenever you have a discussion with Alexander the Great (or whenever you play as Alexander the Great and want to add to your palace). The track was expanded upon and included in the Civilization II soundtrack where it's also known as "Aristotle's Pupil".

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 #259 - Sid Meier's Civilization - Greek Theme ]


Sunday, December 4, 2016

Steam Games Sunday - 4 December 2016

Fractured Space debuts on Steam Games Sunday at #7

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

In terms of new games debuting on the list this week, we have Fractured Space in 7th place pushing Gems of War down to 10th place. Fractured Space is a free-to-play game on Steam that describes itself as "a space combat game where you control a gigantic capital ship to seize mines and bases for resources and buffs. Play solo, co-op PvE or 5-v-5 PvP." The game is currently rated "Mostly Positive" with 79% of the 339 reviews in the past 30 days being positive. Rock Paper Shotgun describes the game as

A MOBA in a non-cutesy, non-fantasy setting, with just enough respect for the genre’s tradition while having the courage to keep things slow, uncomplicated and strategic. Here’s that slap on the back, space videogame. You deserve it.

Sounds pretty good, if you're into MOBAs featuring spaceships.

In terms of the remaining games on the list, War Thunder is still in 1st place and Rainbow Six Siege has gone up one place this week from 3rd to 2nd place. Sid Meier's Civilization VI drops down to 3rd place (probably due to a lack of multiplayer games going on) and Arizona Rose and the Pirates' Riddles, a nonogram/picross style game, has shot up from 8th place to 4th place - although don't expect this game to feature prominently in the future as the Choicest Games contributor who played this game has actually finished it! :)

Marvel Heroes and Company of Heroes 2 have both moved down one place and are now 5th and 6th respectively and Everyday Genius: SquareLogic has dropped from 6th place to 7th. Gauntlet has gone up slightly from 10th place to 9th place this week and, as previously mentioned, we have Gems of War in 10th 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?