Sunday, 24 June 2012

Healthy Listening Month: Top 10 Songs to Smile By

     When I am feeling at my lowest, there are two things that help me get through. It's my friends in my Dungeons and Dragons group and my music. As I said last week, musical therapy has been becoming more and more accepted to help treat clinical depression. Using music while coupled with other forms of counselling has been proven to help. However that was last weeks article.

     This week I am counting down the top 10 songs I use to help shake the blues away.

10: Mega Man X/ OCRemiX: Braving the Storm by Metal Man (Original by the Mega Man X Team)

     As of late, Capcom has not been on my good list due to several reasons which i don't feel comfortable talking about. So when i was going over my lists, I found it odd that I had Capcom, and most noticeably Mega Man tracks on the list. I guess it shows that even if you don't agree with the company, you can still find joy in the music.

     Braving the Storm lives up to it's title. A song of grit and determination and forcing your way through a winter wasteland. When you succeed in your mission, there is no better feeling. I find this song to be more seasonal given it's name. I find myself usually thinking of the original Chill Penguin's theme when I am out shovelling snow. Of course when Maverick Rising came out back in March, taking one listen to this song made me remember tackling the snow.

     I find that once you are finished shovelling, you may be tired, but it's a good tired. Braving the Storm helps put me at ease after hard work and I can finally relax and not worry about anything.

9: Cave Story: Moonsong by Daisuke "Pixel" Amaya

     Cave Story started my love for Indie Games. With it's retro graphics, fun gameplay and story, and lastly, great music, there is nothing to critique about the game. For those who grew up in the Nintendo Hard era of gaming, this is your game. But I am not here to gush about this game. There is one particular song that has grabbed my attention from this wonderful game.

     Moonsong is a wonderful little tune and one of my favourites from the game. This is one of the rare times that a song makes me grasping for words to describe this song. This song plays when you are given a choice. You can flee on the back with a single survivor, or you can continue to risk your life and climb upward to put a stop to the madness. The song pretty much makes your choice for you. If you flee, the song makes you feel like a coward, so by climbing the song reminds you that you have an obligation to set things right.

8: Final Fantasy VI/OCRemiX: Ruined Skies by OrkyBash (Originally by Nobuo Uematsu)

     Ruined Skies is an arrangement of Searching For Friends, one of single best tracks Nobuo Uematsu has ever made. It can still hold its own against the later tracks like One Winged Angel and You're Not Alone. I know I have said how much I loved the Final Fantasy IX, and they are incredibly awesome, nothing tops that feeling of taking to the skies and searching for your friends.

     So why have I chosen Ruined Skies by Orkybash over the original. It's the fact that the feeling of hope is building. The song does not instantly know you are going to find your friends. It fills you with equal parts wonder and dread. It has you questioning everything. What has happenned to this world, where are your friends, are they even alive and finally, can we stop Kefka?

7: Donkey Kong Country 2: Jib Jig by David Wise

     When one is feeling depressed, there is one thing that is a sure fire way to feel better. Going on an adventure. Be it taking a cursed ring into the land of evil, conquering some pale haired bishonen or going to the local ice cream shop. Having the mindset for an adventure is one of the best ways to take your mind off your current situation.

     From the Donkey Kong Country 2 soundtrack, Jib Jig is the ideal adventure theme. It makes you want to sign on with a crew, hoist the sails and go into lands beyond. With this song playing you cannot help but say it's adventure time.

6: Persona 3 Portable – A Way of Life (FemPC Map Theme) by Shōji Meguro

     My first foray into the MegaTen games was Persona 3 Portable and with that one game, I fell in love with the series. The Characters are fun and I really find myself getting engrossed in the story. One of the things about the PSP Remake of Persona 3 was that you could play as a female PC which I find fun. It's not just a simple re-skin, but a completely different game. Different dialogues, different sub quests and even different music.

     I find A Way of Life more...upbeat then the Male PC's theme. Given the rather dark nature of the game, having a a more peppy, upbeat theme helps alleviate the more depressing themes. The FemPC can be played like this as well as the choices you have with your character can make her mood reflect her Map Theme. It is a fun tune and defiantly worth a listen to. In fact, Persona 3 Portable is a game worth playing.

5: Tie! Illusion of Gaia: In the Earthen Womb/Will's Journey by Yasuhiro Kawasaki

     Illusion of Gaia is one of the most underrated games on the Super Nintendo. It has one of the most complex, if down right depressing stories from the 16 bit era, wonderfully detailed graphics, and best of all, a solid soundtrack that can rival the heavy hitters from the SNES era.

     I had a difficult time choosing between these two songs. On the one hand In the Earthen Womb has brought me to tears and is quite possibly, one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard. The way the song is produced, it sounds like an angelic choir singing. It is such a hauntingly beautiful song and it does make me teary eyed. But not for sad reasons. I will save you the reasons why however.

     Will's Journey however is a song of fun and adventure. Whereas Jib Jig is a song for a pirate adventure, Will's Journey is a song of leaving your home, going out into the world and finding your destiny. This song is an incredibly simple and doesn't have much emotional backing to it like In The Earthen Womb, but I can't help but like it.

4: Radical Dreamers: Star Stealing Girl by Yasunori Mitsuda

     I do not know the importance of this song in Radical Dreamers or Chrono Cross. I could never get through Chrono Cross without throwing my hands up in frustration and I have never played Radical Dreamers. However I have heard this song and I don't know why I like it so much. I prefer the original version of this song but the Chrono Cross version is good as well.

     Radical Dreamers feels like a song of love to me. It is a soft and relaxing song. When listening you just want to close your eyes and focus on all the good that has happened in life. This is a great theme and is worthy to use. I prefer the Radical Dreamers iteration of the song because it is more simple in design. I love complex songs alot, but when you are feeling down, sometimes it is easier to keep it simple.

3: Legend of Zelda ~ The Wind Waker: Dragon Roost Island by the Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker team

     Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker may be one of the best Zelda games in recent history. When you compare it to Twilight Princess, it is leaps and bounds better. Better music, better characters, a better story and they actually gave Ganondorf a backstory. I can only compare the game to Twilight Princess as I have not gotten far in Skyward Sword yet. In my opinion, Twilight Princess was a let down off a Zelda game.

     One of the more popular songs in Wind Waker would have to be Dragon Roost Island. With a solid mix of stringed instruments, and woodwinds, this gives the are a great feeling of island adventure. I often find myself whistling this tune to myself or using it for background noise. With this sort of music playing it is easy to get lost in. Just goes to show you that you don't need fancy realistic graphics to have an epic adventure.

2: Mario Kart 64: Rainbow Road by Kenta Nagata 

     The notorious Rainbow Road. If you beat that course without dying, you were considered king of gaming. Of course when Mario Kart jumped to the N64, it brought Rainbow Road along with it. They had since nerfed the course by giving it guard rails (blasphemy) and the only real way to get knocked off was if you tried to do a short cut. Still, this was and still is a fun game.

     I had an entire album of different versions of this song to choose from, but the one I came back to always was the N64 version. This song is fun incarnate. Nothing beats getting 3 of your friends and having a race on Rainbow Road. I just love this song so much. But it doesn't invoke the same emotions as the next song does.

1: Super Mario 64: Dire Dire Docks by Koji Kondo

     I remember January 4th 1997 very clear in my mind. My brother Matt and I were given an ultimatum by our parents. Nintendo 64 or the Playstation. I remember going to Toys R Us and getting ourselves the N64. Now we didn't have alot of money at the time, but I remember renting Mario 64 and the first time I saw that Lakitu cameraman come into focus, that changed my gaming life.

     I was blown away by the ground breaking 3D, the smooth controls and the music. It was the music that finally solidified my love for game music. The song that did it was as you guessed, Dire Dire Docks. When I think about that song, I am transported back to a simpler time. At heart I am a 90's kid and this song sometimes makes me yearn for those simpler days. Dire Dire Docks deserves it's spot as my number 1 list, and any person who grew up with the song can easily a special place for it on his list.

     As I have said in my last article, there has been breakthroughs in musical therapy and I can attest that music does help me bring me out of a deep funk. The songs I have listed is just the tip of what I use when I am feeling down.

     If you are experiencing clinical depression, there is no shame in seeking help. It is hard to do so, but there is no shame in asking for help when you need it the most.

     Thank you for tuning in for Healthy Listening month and I would like to thank Dustin VanCour over at 1up Your Life for doing this collaboration with me. For more healthy living ideas with a geek twist, visit 1up Your Life today.

     This has been Daimo Mac and am lost in the music.

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