Saturday, January 18, 2014

Sound Bytes: The Case of the Mysterious Midway Track

Sorry I've been flying under the radar for the last few days, folks. While I was gone, I discovered something pretty cool that I'd like to share with the fine readers of this blog. Remember Midway Arcade's Greatest Hits? This collection of early arcade hits like Defender, Joust, and my abusive love interest Sinistar was released for every game console you can imagine... yes, even that one. However, the Sega Saturn version was my favorite of the bunch, vying with Japanese megahits like Dracula X, Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter, and Grandia for the title of the most entertaining title on this unappreciated system.

Unappreciated because of this guy, naturally.
However, the Saturn port of Arcade's Greatest Hits has a special surprise for players adventurous enough to pop the disc into their computers. There's a lengthy music track exclusive to this version of the game; a bizarre progressive rock epic that calls to mind the work of Tangerine Dream and Mike "Tubular Bells" Oldfield. I can't share the whole thing with you, but you'll find an excerpt from the track here.

On a whim, I decided to ask the game's creators (formerly of Digital Eclipse, currently with a new company called Code Mystics) about this mysterious track. This was their response:

The Code Mystics rep then provided a link to the band's Grooveshark page, featuring selections from Weird Blinking Lights' latest album, Traditional Synthetic Cuisine. The quality of these tracks is subject to debate- you're not going to get a lot of mileage out of them if you're not a fan of space rock- but at least this sheds some light on this eighteen year old mystery.

With that mystery solved, let's discuss more recent gaming news. Evidently Nintendo has changed its 2014 financial projections from a rosy one billion dollar profit to a thorny three hundred million dollar loss. It's important to point out (since nobody else will) that Microsoft has lost three billion dollars on the Xbox in the last decade, and that Sony hemorrhaged nearly that much in a single year. Nevertheless, the loss has got CEO Satoru Iwata sweating bullets and considering other income sources for this former industry leader.

What else U got?
(image courtesy of
Personally, I didn't think the Wii U was a fantastic idea. Its technology badly lags behind its competitors, just as the Wii had in 2006. Unlike the Wii, however, it doesn't have any compelling technology to offset that handicap; just an expensive boondoggle of a controller that adds more to the system's cost than its entertainment value. Having said all that, I also think it would be unwise for Nintendo to abandon the machine halfway through its lifespan. Sega had a nasty habit of turning its consoles into doorstops through the 1990s, and it took a wrecking ball to the company's reputation. After the Dreamcast was taken off store shelves, Sega vowed never to make a console again... a wise decision, as nobody with an ounce of common sense would consider buying one from the frustratingly fickle company.

My advice to Nintendo is to take its lumps in this console cycle, put more of its marketing and development muscle behind the 3DS, and when 2017 finally arrives, start fresh with an entirely new system... something more in line with its competitors. Withered technology is no longer working for Nintendo... these days, the strategy is making their products seem as stale as the name would suggest.

Speaking of stale, it may also be time to hand the aging and creatively tapped Shigeru Miyamoto his walking papers*... but that is a story for another time.

* Hey, put down the torches and pitchforks! You did play Paper Mario: Sticker Star, right?!


  1. "You did play Sticker Star Saga, right?!"

    Because he was the dominant creative vision for that game. Come on. The only thing more annoying than crediting Miyamoto for every one of Nintendo's successes is laying the blame for every failure at his feet. He has a fleeting connection to most Nintendo titles at best.

    1. In all fairness, I didn't just pull that assumption out of my butt. It's been reported elsewhere:

      "Kensuke Tanabe, software planning and development department for Paper Mario: Sticker Star on the Nintendo 3DS has revealed that Shigeru Miyamoto requested that story elements be removed from the game. Miyamoto believed that the gameplay elements in Paper Mario: Sticker Star were what players really wanted."

      Other sites have reported this as well, including the Nintendo Wiki and (yuck) Kotaku. So I'm standing by the assertion that Miyamoto hurt this game's development. Sorry.