Aside from that blip, its been a while, mostly due to being too busy consuming the things I’d like to write about instead of writing about them.
Anyhow, we’re at the end of my birthday here, going into the day after, and now on my last year before 30. While the day started out honestly feeling like it would be plain and dull like any other, doing things like responsibly cleaning up and doing laundry, it became much better as the day went on.
First up is something I’m starting, mostly as an exercise in attempted self-discipline, and a bit of vanity. I’m starting one of those 365 photo projects, taking pictures of myself each day for the upcoming year. To give it some purpose/excuse, I’m going to attempt to do it as a chronicle of my last year before I turn 30. I’m sure most any of you actually reading this will find it rather dull, and I may save some sanity by mostly keeping it over on flicker with, say, weekly roundups of the shots here. Day One(nevermind the post-midnight posting, its been a long evening and was online way earlier):
That was as I headed out in today’s gorgeous weather to have a 3-in-the-afternoon birthday brunch, nice and low key at the nearest Denny’s, and on the trip back, picking up some delicious Izzy’s Ice Cream (Creme Coffee Crunch with a Guiness Izzy, and a pint of Strawberry) and some cupcakes from the shop a couple doors down from there. Come home to find Pokemon: Heart Gold (as much as I’m enjoying it, poor Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey finds itself immediately sidelined) waiting for me along with lots of time on the phone with friends and family wishing me a happy birthday.
Then it was off to the main event of the evening (and new Pokewalker in tow), Video Games Live, an orchestral concert featuring music from a range of beloved video game series, and their first time in Minnesota. While I figured it was going to be a pretty fun thing, I wasn’t at all prepared for how awesome it turned out to be. Doubly so considering it was to be hosted by Tommy Tallarico, one of my least favorite G4TV hosts from when I still had the channel available to me.
But no, they had to go and get things going on the right foot, playing some pretty funny videos and bringing up the finalists from a pre-show costume contest (naturally Link won, like he always does in any popularity contest). Then it was time to get the show proper underway. They started things off with a giant medly paying homage to the arcade/Atari era with everything from Pong to Defender to Battle Tank to Donkey Kong and Tetris.
Then it was on to modern times, with a great Metal Gear Solid medly (and video intro from Hideo Kojima himself) that also saw a certain cardboard box wandering across the stage while a guard looked about all !-like. A pre-recorded David Jaffe takes us into God of War, where we get bits of several of the better pieces (sadly no Pot of Tea) that brings about a mental fist pump from me, as I’ve been playing through the trilogy (again) for the better part of the week getting the remaining trophies, and will be back to it after getting this written up.
Springing from the box, Tommy pops out of the cardboard box and calls out for an audience member to come to the stage to play a game. The girl he picks out comes up, gets handed a t-shirt to put on, and we’re all informed that she’s going to be playing Space Invaders, winning a fancy MAME box if she can beat the first stage in 2 minutes or less. The catch? Her ship’s to be controlled by the shirt she put on via the magic of motion tracking. How’d she do? Well, I’ll leave the video to speak for itself:
Following this, Tommy dug out from somewhere an old, old, old video of Ralph Baer, one of the orignal video game creators, giving a demonstration of Table Tennis, something that I’d never run across before. And not only did we get this little bit of video game history, but he then connected us to Mr. Baer live through the magic of Skype, where we all duly, and rather loudly, made our thanks known for helping to birth one of our favorite entertainment mediums.
Medleys from Zelda (intro’d by Koji Kondo) and Warcraft, along with a fantastic eyes-closed piano solo by one Martin Yeung playing a mash of Final Fantasy pieces, rounded out the front half of the evening and getting us to intermission, For those of us that stayed in our seats, a loading bar alternated with various short clips from a TON of old NES/SNES/Genesis games, each bringing cheers and hollers from various parts of the audience.
Post-intermission, Tommy (with a Tri-Force emblazoned guitar) and conductor Jack Wall (with a plain old acoustic) get in on the act as Chrono Trigger/Cross has its turn in the evening’s spotlight before they moved into the other interactive event of the night, a Guitar Hero (Van Halen) performance from a pre-show contest winner. Challenging him to earn 200,000 points playing Jump on Hard, the audience member scoffed and said he’d do it on Expert. And with Tommy and the orchestra playing alongside him, he readily proved to be up to the challenge, going to far as to actually jump in all the right places without missing a beat, and coming out of it with a score of 231,000+, then hopping off the stage with a nice pile of swag. Somewhere around here, we’re treated to another Koji Kondo introduced medly, this time for Super Mario and his hundreds of games.
After Tommy grabbed another guitar, they launched into an absolutely outstanding Halo performance (and this from someone who’s not a huge fan of the series) that got an absolutely huge round of applause from the audience as he and the conductor ran off stage and the lights dimmed. With the applause not stopping, they came back out and asked if we’d like an encore. Of Course We Would You Silly Billy.
But before that, Tommy decides he needs to embarrass one of tonight’s audience members, he’s friends with so and so, a longtime supporter of Video Games Live… a longtime resident of the area… the renowned writer of such works as Sandman and Coraline… Neil Gaiman! Holy. Fucking. Awesome.
After Neil gets a monster round of applause just for showing up, we get down to business and as close as I would get to having my Metroid wish fulfilled, we got a pretty good Castlevania medley, followed a jaw-dropping live demonstration of the thing that made the aforementioned Marting Yeung Youtube-famous, a blindfolded Super Mario Bros solo. But two extra pieces weren’t enough, Tommy offered to give us one more and we gladly accepted.
“The company is Square.”
“The game is Final Fantasy.”
Shouts from everyone giving number to their favorite entry.
Crazed Cheers, myself included.
“One. Winged. Angel.”
The Audience Explodes.
By the time they were done, everyone was on their feet cheering or in a puddle of blissful ooze on the floor. I don’t care how overhyped/played it is at this point, and how sick of it anyone else might be, but Oh My God, that was the best possible way to end the show. I’ve a newfound respect for Tommy, and would have loved to stick around for the meet-and-greet afterwards, but one look at the monstrous line told me I was going to have difficulty getting home if I stuck around, ah well, there’s always next time(and given that they sold out, there likely will be a next time).
Being downtown and on Nicollet, I took the opportunity to do a little bit of photography, but only the following shot came out (really fucking) well:
A short trip home with some more inital Pokemon-ing and enjoying my cupcakes sees me to the end of the day proper, but now before I go to bed, I’m off to finish up Titan Mode on God of War III, possibly doing the challenges as well.