Kurayami Monogatari

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Hello Pro All Stars – YEAH YEAH YEAH/Akogare no Stress-free/Hana, Takenawa no Toki September 18, 2018

yeahyeahyeah

Track Listing

  1. YEAH YEAH YEAH
  2. Akogare no Stress-free
  3. Hana, Takenawa no Toki
  4. Hello! History
  5. YEAH YEAH YEAH (Morning Musume ’18 Ver.) (Regular A only)
  6. YEAH YEAH YEAH (ANGERME Ver.) (Regular B only)
  7. YEAH YEAH YEAH (Juice=Juice Ver.) (Regular C only)
  8. YEAH YEAH YEAH (Country Girls Ver.) (Regular D only)
  9. YEAH YEAH YEAH (Kobushi Factory Ver.) (Regular E only)
  10. YEAH YEAH YEAH (Tsubaki Factory Ver.) (Regular F only)
  11. YEAH YEAH YEAH (Instrumental)
  12. Akogare no Stress-free (Instrumental)
  13. Hana, Takenawa no Toki (Instrumental)
  14. Hello! History (Instrumental)

1. YEAH YEAH YEAH

As the leading A-side of the single, I was kind of expecting a bombastic dance track with such a title, but instead it’s quite the opposite taking more of a mid-tempo piano ballad that actually is structured a bit more as a dance number.  I mean the song sounds a little bit like previous Hello! Project songs and it just doesn’t really put a spark in me (doesn’t help there’s no solos either).  Even the dance breakdown is eerily similar to Momusu’s “Tsumetai Kaze to Kataomoi” & “The Vision”. I don’t know, but the song comes off generic and forgettable.

2. Akogare no Stress-free

At least the 2nd A-side kind of fixes that mess with more of an interesting sound and it’s actually upbeat!  I like the surfers rock sound I get from it and the song just has a bit more oomph to it since it is a bit more of a cooler song for them.  Though the only solos here are actually between Ayacho & Fukuchan (leader and sub-leader of H!P).  It’s a pretty cool song, probably the favorite of the single though.

3. Hana, Takenawa no Toki

I was surprised we were getting this song on the single considering I thought it was more of an Up-Front song than anything (because it was performed first at HinaFest earlier in the year).  That said, seeing the H!P girls get this song is kind of interesting.  The song is a full chorale of a song to a simple piano arrangement.  While I like the togetherness of the track, didn’t we technically get that in “YEAH YEAH YEAH”?  I don’t know, this one is pretty much eh as well, but I suppose it’s clean and simple.

4. Hello! History

Honestly, this should’ve EASILY been the lead song as it really showcases H!P up to date!  It’s funky and the singing is pretty upbeat and kind of quite unique because it mentions a lot of big songs that involve the current groups.  Hell, the leaders of H!P get a solo too (even Reina Ichioka!).  Might look like a bigger “Joshi Kashimashi Monogatari” but I dig this quite a bit, why is it a B-side???

5. YEAH YEAH YEAH (Morning Musume ’18 Ver.) (Regular A only)
6. YEAH YEAH YEAH (ANGERME Ver.) (Regular B only)
7. YEAH YEAH YEAH (Juice=Juice Ver.) (Regular C only)
8. YEAH YEAH YEAH (Country Girls Ver.) (Regular D only)
9. YEAH YEAH YEAH (Kobushi Factory Ver.) (Regular E only)
10. YEAH YEAH YEAH (Tsubaki Factory Ver.) (Regular F only)

Each Regular version of the single does come with a 5th track depending on which version you get (obvious which group you want).  Though I kind of wish it wasn’t YEAH YEAH YEAH as the chosen track though.  Really not much to say here sadly because I’m still not that much of a fan of the song.

 

 

Compared to “ALL FOR ONE & ONE FOR ALL!” and “Busu ni Naranai Tetsugaku”, this is by far the weakest (get all of H!P together) single to date.  I don’t who thought YEAH YEAH YEAH would make for a decent showing of the company because it kind of brought the generic stuff that H!P has done together in one song.  Probably would’ve better had Akogare no Stress-free or Hello! History as the leading songs because both those tracks are great!  Hana, Takenawa no Toki is simple and nice, but maybe not for this single.  I don’t know this 20th anniversary thing hasn’t really celebrated a lot music-wise IMO…disappointing…

 

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NCT DREAM – We Go Up September 17, 2018

Filed under: NCT — solarblade @ 6:55 am

wegoup

Track Listing

  1. We Go Up
  2. 1, 2, 3
  3. Beautiful Night
  4. Drippin’
  5. Dear DREAM
  6. Qing Chun Ji Lie

1. We Go Up

It seems that NCT DREAM took a smidge step back after their last song, “GO” shocked the fandom with the harsh change of style.  Granted, it doesn’t quite feel like that when the song starts (and has) rapping for its verses from just about everyone, but Renjun & Chenle.  Anyways it’s nice to see everyone involved a bit more equally than just about all of their previous comebacks.  While I do love the energy the verses bring and the slow pre-choruses with Chenle, Haechan, Mark, Jisung, and Renjun, but the chorus just kind of flops into this slow-paced heavy and repetitive chorus and seriously is the worst part because of how meh it is.  Still, the song is kind of catchy to me, but definitely not their strongest comeback.

2. 1, 2, 3

Moving to the rest of the mini, NCT DREAM brings more of a cooler and I’m loving the nostalgic 90s vibe I get out of this one for sure!  Though it does seem to fall back on the main singers taking the solos (Mark, Haechan, Renjun, and Chenle) it’s still a great time to be had here and the other 3 members had at least solos.  It’s a pretty neat song and a lot better than I expected from the group.

3. Beautiful Night

Our next track slows things down and what’s this, Renjun, Jeno, Jisung, and Renjun get the first solos?  Yeah, it’s really surprising to see the group tackle more of a slower jam and to showcase more of the vocals of the group (minus some raps from Mark, Jeno, and Jaemin).  This is the kind of song I was hoping NCT DREAM would do as a comeback so I really enjoyed this one!

4. Drippin’

Aren’t we still a little too young here for this kind of song?  If you were looking for NCT DREAM’s sound to be a little more closer to “GO” then this song is the closest we’ll get but not quite as hard, but lyrically this is a bit too much…almost a bit too lewd for me xD.  If I ignore that, the song reminds me of NCT 127’s “Chain”.  I’m surprised there’s so much Renjun here though.  I’m really uncomfortable with this one…but other than the lyrics it is more of teen angsty sounding DREAM so *shrugs*.

5. Dear DREAM

I’m need a palette cleanse after that song and as the last track (well original track), Dear DREAM kind of takes things back down to a slower cute song.  Surprised that Mark & Jeno have such a long rapping verse.  Unfortunately, the song kind of flies over my head, but I do appreciate that the back members get more time to do their thing like Jaemin & Jisung.  It definitely closes the mini on a nice note, but of the songs this might be the forgettable one.

6. Qing Chun Ji Lie

Essentially, the Chinese cut of We Go Up closes the album as all of their physical releases have had that.  Really though not much to say really, I will say Mark, Renjun, and Chenle sound great in their pronunciations (because duh, they speak fluent Chinese).  The rest do have quirks about their wording, but it’s passable.  Yeah.

 

 

After their rather shocking contribution to “NCT 2018 EMPATHY”, the group kind of toned it back slightly for their 3rd comeback here.  While I have to say their lead-in isn’t quite as strong as previous efforts, the mini as a whole did a lot better for them than “We Young” and “The First” did.  I will say whoever though NCT DREAM needed Drippin’ needs to be slapped in the back of the head, the rest was really pleasant for them and finally showing love to Jeno, Jisung, and Jaemin is all I ever wanted here.  Granted, this is also unfortunately Mark’s last release with NCT DREAM as he’s graduating the group (because of his age), so it’ll be interesting to see how the dynamic shifts without their main rapper in the group.

 

AAA – COLOR A LIFE

Filed under: AAA — solarblade @ 5:38 am

coloralife

Track Listing

  1. -prologue-
  2. DEJAVU
  3. No Way Back
  4. C.O.L
  5. Tomorrow
  6. First Name
  7. -Interlude-
  8. Kiss The Sky
  9. Gotta Love Me
  10. Beat Together
  11. LIFE
  12. -epilogue-

1. -prologue-

As the intro to the album, I was kind of curious with the arrangement I was listening with kind of an ominous sound that also has a little bit of an electronic side to it.  Despite it being a minute long intro, -prologue- is kind of an intriguing way to open the album up.

2. DEJAVU

As the promotional song for the album, it does kind of lead from the intro, but the mood of the track itself couldn’t be any different.  I like the opening and then the sudden dropout to Nissy’s opening line.  It is still a little bit odd with no Chiaki singing with the group and now with Hidaka singing it’s just odd.  Then the chorus hits and I’m given vibes to “Jamboree!!” with the bopping beat and bright sound.  It’s just interesting and they’re giving Shuta & Shinji more tougher lines for their unique vocals as well.  I quite liked this one!

3. No Way Back

As the first single released for the album (and first single without Chiaki) I was definitely curious to see how a 6-nin AAA would handle themselves here!  I just remembered that I enjoyed the song’s funky vibes and like “DEJAVU”, the group utilizing members is showing more and more.  It’s a pretty fun song and while Misako got the short end of the stick, she still had appearances and the song all-around was great!

4. C.O.L

What is it with AAA giving us decent songs on this album?  The next new track off the album, C.O.L continues to bring more of that funky guitar riff, but the song feels something more akin to their earlier hits that have somewhat of a Summer-y vibe.  There’s just a chill vibe here and I’m enjoying the kind of happy-go-lucky mood its giving me.  Really nice song here!

5. Tomorrow

I was wondering where was the AAA ballad in this era and it feels like they were delegated to the album.  Although at first I thought it was going to be a simple piano/strings ballad, after Nissy’s first line and Urata comes in, the track shifts to kind of of an acoustic ballad.  While I can say they don’t have many of these in their collection, it’s nice to just see them relaxed.  Hell, even the pseudo-rap from Hidaka isn’t coming off awkward here.  Simple, but effective here.

6. First Name

It seems we also get split groupings on the album and I’m happy to say it’s just two songs off the album.  First Name is just between Shuta & Shinji here and I was happy to hear Shinji singing first and in English (Shuta does as well).  The song feels like a ballad at first and I was alright with this, but then the chorus kicks in and we’re getting that Tropical House sound and I was a little disappointed, but the song’s lowkey groove works out in a way to show difference between the two arrangements.  Though I feel the latter part is riding on that K-pop wave with the tropical house style (which was more or less a ride on Justin Bieber’s popular sound then).

7. -Interlude-

An interlude to give a bit of breathing space, unlike the “-prologue-“, this is kind of nice and relaxing since it uses light synths to get by.  I do like when the low bass synth kicks into the song, but then once this rush of sound hits it tapers off and just fades out from there as well…kind of an odd 50 second track.

8. Kiss The Sky

Next track up and I thought it kind of reminded me of “C.O.L” but this one sticks to its dance beat feel and I’m loving the soundscapey feel to it due to the echoes but it slowly but surely builds itself into a full on dance track and I’ve kind of missed this side to AAA’s music (like “HEARTFUL” era).  It’s definitely my favorite from the album down-pat!!

9. Gotta Love Me

The other coupling song with the remaining members, (Misako, Nissy, Urata, and Hidaka).  The track is quite unique on the album as it feels more R&B-ish in comparison to the rest of the album and there’s a lot of Misako to be had here and I’ve definitely noticed a lack of her here on the album.  I think this track has a certain “depArture”” vibe that kind of resonates with me…kind of a sweet track!

10. Beat Together

Since “Gotta Love Me” is the last of the new tracks, we got two more tracks to deal with starting with the B-side from “No Way Back”!  I definitely remember loving the track when I first heard it and hearing it again on the album doesn’t really change much of my opinion on it.  It’s upbeat and the chanting just adds a lot of energy behind it!  Great song and I’m happy it made the cut.

11. LIFE

As the 2nd A-side released, LIFE was an interesting release since it was the song and just its instrumental and it still reminds me of older Summer song releases they’ve had.  I love the energy as well and it fits quite nicely coming after “Beat Together”.

12. -epilogue-

As the closing outro, epilogue starts with a kind of funky style, but the track is filtered and muted slightly and the melody isn’t something I’m familiar of (perhaps a preview?) I don’t know why but midway, it kind of statics out and we’re left with this ethereal synth arrangement that follows what the first half had but no lyrics and funky guitars/bass…and then it just ends.  Odd…I would think they’d use this as a full song but I guess not?

Tracks Recommended

  • Kiss The Sky
  • C.O.L
  • DEJAVU
  • Beat Together
  • Gotta Love Me

Song of Avoidance

  • Tomorrow

You know what, I think AAA will be perfectly fine without Chiaki as COLOR A LIFE is way damn good album even moreso than their last couple of albums at least not since “GOLD SYMPHONY”.  I think something must’ve changed between this and “WAY OF GLORY” because a lot of the songs here are quite nice and just one of their strongest albums to date.  I mean even the worst song, Tomorrow is not even bad, I just had to choose my least favorite here.  Yeah, definitely an album to check out *RECOMMENDED*

 

KOTOKO – tears cyclone -Kai- September 16, 2018

Filed under: KOTOKO — solarblade @ 4:36 am

tearscyclone

Track Listing

  1. nonfiction ~Akuma no Sumu Wakusei~
  2. Hibari
  3. Natsu Koi
  4. Onyx
  5. effacer
  6. Sign of Suspicion
  7. a-gain
  8. Kaiten Mokuba
  9. Myuge no Hanataba wo, Kimi e
  10. dusty days
  11. SA*KU*RA Hakusho
  12. Kai-Ro-tation

Bonus CD Tracklist

  1. sign -KOTOKO Ver. Remix- (Tomoyuki Nakazawa Remix)

1. nonfiction ~Akuma no Sumu Wakusei~

Opening the album up, KOTOKO brings nonfiction as the first track and learning the album is entirely produced by Kazuya Takase (a familiar name to I’ve Sound fans), I have a feeling a lot of the album will be this deep electro sound.  Of course I was right with the first track as the familiar sounds of Takase’s works can be heard here.  It sounds similar to numerous tracks within KOTOKO’s discograhphy (actually pretty close to “SCREW” if anything).  KOTOKO sounds more or less the same she’s as always been, but I always enjoy hearing her with this kind of arrangement so it definitely in the end worked out great and kicks things off on a good note!

2. Hibari

2nd track in and we already get our longest track?  Hibari does start off quite differently than I expected with angry guitarwork and almost a metal-like style before the tune changes pace to include synths and the tune turns more anison in style.  I kind of would’ve preferred the former style and Hibari kind of becomes a mid-tempo track with spots of this aggressive rock sound in certain spots.  Just a bit too long and it kind of drags past the halfway mark.

3. Natsu Koi

Back to more of the electronic stuff, but it does feel like it carries some of the same synths used in “Hibari” here as well, just taking out the guitars essentially.  I’m liking the interesting melody and rhythms used in the verses of the track and while it’s pretty poppy, it’s kind of a decent track here.  Maybe if it was a smidge faster in its BPM then it would’ve been a favorite, but it’s decent the way it sounds now.

4. Onyx

Seems like our next track is back to the same mood and style that “nonfiction” had with the deep synth electro arrangement.  Though this one definitely fits more of the cool and mysterious sound.  There is an area where it does lighten up with piano, but the cool, cold sound returns pretty quickly.  I have to say that so far, this is my favorite track off the album!

5. effacer

Not sure what to think about this song next because it’s got a more upbeat and poppy sound even moreso than “Natsu Koi”, almost playing to KOTOKO’s songs she’s done for “SHORT CIRCUIT” with a stronger anison influence and KOTOTO’s style of singing here is a bit more cutesy.  I don’t know why, but this song just feels awkward to me and isn’t one that works with me.

6. Sign of Suspicion

So I only bolded this song because this has been released physically as far as I know on the I’ve Sound compilation album, “ALIVE”.  So this song is very familiar to me and its inclusion of other songs like “TOUGH INTENTION” & “ZonE-iT” is kind of strange.  This is definitely the most anison song I’ve come across yet on this album, but it has a certain vibe to it that feels nostalgic to me.  I would say it’s decent of a song, definitely not as strong as “Onyx” but OK song.

7. a-gain

So KOTOKO decided to I guess cover 2 of former singer, Ray’s songs on this album (if I recall, KOTOKO written the songs so it’s more like a self-cover? like the RO-KYU-BU! song she did off of her previous album, “Kuchuu Puzzle”).  I never got to hear the original, but I assume it’s similar?  I do like the ethereal glow of the song and it steadily grows a dance beat and it sounds happy and bright.  It’s a nice track, stands out from the album in a cute way…yeah this is how you do a cute song…not “effacer”.

8. Kaiten Mokuba

I kind of like the piano/strings intro for our next track, but it’s shortlived as it’s quickly replaced trance synths and the familiar Takase arrangement.  I think there’s a bit more quirks about the tune than just the standard sound, but in one way makes me think of a MELL song and the other has more originality behind how it works.  I think it’s a bizarre song because of the transitions, but it keeps my interest intact throughout.

9. Myuge no Hanataba wo, Kimi e

Is this a ballad we’re dealing with?  I guess as close to one as Takase can get on the album, but it’s the slowest track here and it feels like a mid-tempo anison track.  Unlike the synths, there’s more natural instruments and the kind of pop/rock sound is a change of pace, but the tune is kind of bland and sticks out in a weird way for the album.  Just not that intriguing of a song.

10. dusty days

At least we get somewhat of a proper pop/rock track with the next one, dusty days.  While it might be the same levels as what “Light My Fire” was pulling off, this song was pretty decent and gave us a straightforward tune.  Nothing too bad to say, but I’d say it was good, but nothing quite amazing…passable essentially.

11. SA*KU*RA Hakusho

I was not expecting the song to open up with KOTOKO under filters singing in English to open this track.  Is it just me or does it remind me of something like a mix of “Onyx”, “Sign of Suspicion” and “a-gain” all kind of smushed together?  It’s a nice track, but it does feel like it plays a little too safely and for that, doesn’t leave much of an impression on me besides being a cuter upbeat track.

12. Kai-Ro-tation

As the album’s final song and was chosen to get a PV and promote the album, Kai-Ro-tation was more of what I kind of was expecting the album to mostly be.  Though after listening through the entire album, I was actually happy to see this song which unlike many of the songs is more of the aggressive electro sound, but I’m loving that it’s more gritty than Takase’s other works.  Yeah, this was an awesome song…surprised it was the final track, but definitely saved one of the bests for last.

CD 2

1. sign -KOTOKO Ver. Remix- (Tomoyuki Nakazawa Remix)

Though for some reason, KOTOKO once again had a bonus track that contained a bonus track, this time another Ray cover, but it’s a remix as well (the only thing Takase didn’t have a hand on).  Honestly, I’m not sure why this is a thing, but hey it’s whatever.  I do like the arrangement as it feels almost video-game-ish but somewhat poppy too?  It’s nice and whatnot, but seems odd to include for the album.

Tracks Recommended

  • Onyx
  • Kai-Ro-tation
  • nonfiction ~Akuma no Sumu Wakusei~
  • a-gain
  • Natsu Koi

Song of Avoidance

  • effacer

It seems like forever sine KOTOKO released an album, but here we are with tears cyclone -Kai-!  A little surprised that the two singles released in between album were omitted with an entirely Takase-produced album and it has good and bad moments throughout, figured it’d happen when it’s one guy.  There’s some variation to be found, but I felt most of the album was kind of like throwaway album tracks, nothing like the crazy stuff found on her last album.  It’s OK I guess, but there’s better!

 

 

Koda Kumi – DNA September 15, 2018

Filed under: Koda Kumi — solarblade @ 6:32 pm

dnakoda

Track Listing

  1. Introduction ~My music is designed from my DNA~
  2. HUSH
  3. Dangerous
  4. WATCH OUT!! ~DNA~
  5. ScREaM
  6. CHANCES ALL
  7. Aenaku Naru Kurai Nara
  8. HAIRCUT
  9. Guess Who Is Back
  10. HOT HOT
  11. Kokoro Kara i love you
  12.  Work That
  13. PIN DROP

1. Introduction ~My music is designed from my DNA~

Interesting title for just a simple intro don’t ya think?  Very futuristic vibes I get from the opening though and maybe a little tribal and I don’t know why ominous fits here too before a robotic Kuu comes in and the track turns more into a trap-like tune.  Interesting way to kick the album off.

2. HUSH

As the quote-on-quote lead-in single for the album (was a bit surprised it was missing on “AND”), HUSH is the first full track and I was curious to see what it was all about (since I didn’t review those singles).  I was pretty impressed though since it brings us back a cool and sexy vibe that Kuu does very well with and this song is probably the first time I feel excited to hear Kuu going back to a more simpler vibe (without feeling like she’s trying too hard).  Very cool song to start the album.

3. Dangerous

The sound of a dog barking opens up our next track, Dangerous and this is more of what I was saying in the previous track where maybe she’s coming a smidge too strong, but it still isn’t as messy as some previous efforts.  The tune is more funky and the beat is cool if not a smidge all over when it comes to its chorus.  A little vague as well, yeah the chorus is just forgetful lol.  The beat though is definitely in your face.  I think overall the song is OK, but I still prefer “HUSH”.

4. WATCH OUT!! ~DNA~

Does this count as the title track?  Well either way, we go into more of this aggressive bad bitch vibe for our next track and WATCH OUT!! is pretty much the tryhard style that I’m not quite too fond of and Kuu is really in your face.  Unfortunately, the chorus is pretty repetitive and the track’s lack of a strong melody is kind of putting me off more and more.  Plus the Engrish is just humorous to me…yeah, pass…

5. ScREaM

Why does this song remind me of both 2NE1 & Red Velvet??  Just something about the opening gives me Kpop vibes which is a bit of a surprise.  I love the arrangement and the way it flows is a lot more smooth and clean like “HUSH”, the trap beats is a bit bleh, but I definitely can enjoy this song beyond that since the rest of the track is just catchy and fun to listen to.

6. CHANCES ALL

Oh the synths that open up the next track are really neat!  I’m happy it stays in the song as it gives more of a EDM/R&B kind of groove.  It’s like a nostalgic trip to something more of something from “Dejavu” or “UNIVERSE” and those albums had really decent tracks of the same vein.  Right now, I’m definitely bopping to this track the most, impressed!

7. Aenaku Naru Kurai Nara

Not surprised that the first track that’s written out in Kanji would be the ballad.  Aenaku Naru Kurai Nara is another track that kind of just goes into the ballad bin here because of the simplistic piano arrangement.  There are times where more instrumentation is added like drums/strings and such and it does try to add more color to the song.  It’s alright, but I mean what more can I say about Kuu ballads.

8. HAIRCUT

I mean I guess if you’re going to make a song about getting a haircut, I guess it means the song needs to hit hard and aggressive?  It’s just hilarious to think about, but the song is kind of cool and whatnot…though that ~Imma get a haircut~ hook is just awkward xD.  I really do love when the song chills out for the pre-choruses, that’s probably my favorite part of the song and maybe the sax inclusion…but this song arrangement-wise is a tad messy.

9. Guess Who Is Back

It’s been a while since we’ve heard Kuu tackle a rock track and here we are with Guess Who Is Back which is relentless and loud!  I’m definitely getting behind this a lot more than I did when she covered “Can We Go Back” a couple years back!  Kuu though does have to adopt a different vocal style, but she also manages to keep her sultry vocals too for certain parts.  I would love to see Kuu perform this live, this has the ability to really get the crowd amped up!

10. HOT HOT

Not sure what I was getting into here, but I thought maybe it was going to be more of a Summer themed track like “Hashire!”.  Though what we ended up is something in the realm of a sexy song, but maybe playful at that too?  I kind of like the ragtime after-chorus (maybe that’s what that she was going for??), but the song is short…not quite as short as “HAIRCUT” but pretty close.  I don’t know what I think about this tune…maybe somewhere in the middle.

11. Kokoro Kara i love you

Why does it seems the songs with Kanji in them are more or less the only ballads on the album?  As also the longest track, this one does sound like it has a bit more going on in its arrangement moreso than “Aenaku Naru Kurai Nara”, but it still is more or less similar instrumentation, just a bit more livelier I suppose?  Another song I could probably live without honestly.

12. Work That

After that, Work That comes up and it starts with a steady beat and Kuu being sensual and sexy once again.  I kind of enjoyed the build-up of the song, but the payoff in the chorus felt surprisingly weak, but the melody was still kind of interesting.  I’m pretty torn though to if I love it or feel like it’s just a plain song in the mix.

13. Pin Drop

As the final track, Pin Drop closes DNA off with another heavy bop with a punchy beat and Kuu being herself again haha.  I definitely get similar vibes here with “HUSH” and I think that made for a good round trip on the album.  I think it’s definitely worth checking out even if it didn’t make total sense as an album closer.

Tracks Recommended

  • Guess Who Is Back
  • CHANCES ALL
  • HUSH
  • Work That
  • ScREaM

Song of Avoidance

  • WATCH OUT!! ~DNA~

Here we are with the 2nd half of Kuu’s release, DNA!  I have to say, this album wasn’t that bad and didn’t feel quite as off the wall that “AND” was earlier in the year!  It just felt more cohesive and pretty much Kuu being comfortable.  Though the ballads were weak and my Song of Avoidance choice was abrasive…overall, I liked this more than “AND”.

 

Country Girls – Matenai After Five/Kasa wo Sasu Senpai August 28, 2018

Filed under: Country Girls — solarblade @ 7:40 am

matenaiafter

Track Listing

  1. Matenai After Five
  2. Kasa wo Sasu Senpai

1. Matenai After Five

Well, I wasn’t expecting Country Girls to tackle more of a jazzier side to their music with this song which they first performed at the Summer tours.  Of course I was kind of surprised with the lighter sound in comparison to their previous releases of recent times.  I’m a little surprised to hear some vocal filters, but the song is really neat and the little guitar solo was just impressive as well!  Nice track overall!

2. Kasa wo Sasu Senpai

As the other track off this release, Kasa wo Sasu Senpai is giving me slight “Koi wa Magnet” with the bit of synth usage and more somber tone in comparison to “Matenai After Five”.  It’s surprising how far Funakki has grown because I hear her all over the song and she sounds wonderful.  Actually the song is really nice overall!

 

 

Seriously, they should’ve made this a physical single instead of being digital because both tracks are probably the best tracks they’ve done since Momoko left the group and the group itself going into its odd hiatus.  I know I never reviewed “Konamaiki Girl” or even “Kaite wa Keshite no “I Love You” but both songs were kind of mediocre…at least both songs here are really decent songs…just wished they made PVs for these!

 

Let’s talk about Smash Bros. Ultimate 2! August 21, 2018

Filed under: ~Video Game Writing~ — solarblade @ 5:31 am

So I’d say that I was going to write about Smash Bros. again when something big comes up and lo and behold we get a Smash Direct about 2 months after the big reveal from E3.  There was a lot to talk about too so shall we get started on this?

Super-Smash-Bros-Ultimate-logo

Characters

Simon Belmont

Simon

Despite that an oops happened the night before the direct kind of spoiled the reveal, we finally have our first new 3rd party character from Konami in Castlevania’s Simon Belmont.  Personally, I have played the original and Symphony of the Night on the PS1, so I’m familiar to them.  Though seeing Simon in action, he retains a lot of what I remembered him back in the NES days with his weaponry of the Cross, Whip, Holy Water and etc.  Also like that Simon’s whip inherited Sheik’s old style of being able to move the whip freely as well.  Very cool addition (if not one of the more vocal ones fans been wanting to have added and the fact Bomberman missed too).

Richter Belmont

Richter

Though I had said the leak kind of led me to instantly believe that Simon was joining the roster, I was not expecting him to get his own Echo Fighter in Richter (another protagonist within the Castlevania series).  While I’m not as informative on this guy, he does look pretty cool and being an echo to Simon is neat (plus the blue holy water is nice!).

Chrom

Chrom

After Sakurai went in and explained more about Simon & Richter, he just immediately went in and announced two more Echo fighters starting with Chrom from Fire Emblem: Awakening!  Considering he missed his chance back in Smash 4 due to Sakurai stating that making a moveset would’ve been redundant (which is ironic because it’s the case here).  As an Echo to Roy of all people, I thought that meant another sad showing of a Marth clone, but Chrom takes some elements from Roy & Ike!   Honestly, I wish they’d lay off the FE characters (at least til DLC with Edelgard) but I suppose no harm no foul with Chrom right?

Dark Samus

Darksamus

Man, Metroid is getting some love this time around eh?  Of course being an Echo to Samus, Dark Samus was one that I kind of understood the addition to, but a smidge disappointed that her abilities as an Assist Trophy are for the most part gone.  Still, I’m kind of curious to how Dark Samus plays because her stance and the fact she floats interests me.  Even the Final Slash, using her Phazon Beam is neat!

King K. Rool

King_K_Rool_SSBU

Then ending the direct, we get one more trailer and it’s for this longtime villain from the Donkey Kong series, King K. Rool.  Considering that hasn’t been relevant for some time, it feels great to bring him to have more bad guys to the roster!  His moveset so far does a great job showing off his past from DKC to DK64!  Also after all of these reveals (plus the ones from E3), it really feels like the Smash Ballot that was held during the end of the SSB4 era had a lot to do with these additions!

Items, Pokémon, Assist Trophies

Because there wasn’t too many items shown off, I thought it’d be wise to finally talk about the new ones!

  • Healing Field – After being thrown you can stand in the field and heal some damage away if you are able to stay in the field, simple as that!  What surprised me more was it can cling to walls and the field’s healing goes horizontally instead of vertically!
  • Black Hole – Once a characters tosses this item, it drags nearby opponents into the middle leaving them rather defenseless and for free shots while they’re being spun around.  Even items get pulled in as well!
  • Super Launch Star – Didn’t expect an item from Mario Galaxy, especially not this!  Kind of like what it does in its game, the Launch Star launches character to whatever direction it’s pointed towards!
  • Fake Smash Ball – Just as the name implies, it’s a fake Smash Ball and visually is only different because the Smash logo inverted and if attacked it explodes into an X and does big knockback! (as a sidenote. the Smash Ball itself had some small change so that sometimes it might not float around and will occasionally roll around like a Soccer Ball).
  • Bomber – A Kirby enemy, whenever a character picks this up, it’ll light off and explode giving people in its range big damage!
  • Banana Gun – Kind of a 2-use item, the first part is shooting the “gun” for some damage and then the empty Banana Peel can be thrown to slip enemies up.  Neat little item I’d say!
  • Killing Edge – Finally we get an item from the Fire Emblem series!  It’s a sword, but its much stronger the longer you have it held and the sword turns red.
  • Death’s Scythe – If the player has high enough damage, this Castlevania weapon can KO with one swipe of it.
  • Staff – A new item from the Kid Icarus series (as if we haven’t had enough from the last game), this weapon is stronger by how far the opponent is (the farther, the stronger)
  • Ramblin’ Evil Mushroom – An enemy originally from the Mother series, this item once picked up and used, the spores hit the enemy and reverses their controls (I feel like this would be more effective going against Human players and less CPUs).
  • Rage Blaster – A new original Smash Bros. item, the Rage Blaster is stronger if the character has a higher damage percentage.

Pokeball

  • Bewear – Once this guy comes out, he’ll walk around and if he gets near enough to an opponent, he’ll use Sky Uppercut and boy does it look powerful!
  • Solgaleo  – Uses Sunsteel Strike to charge across different places on the stage.
  • Lunala – Uses Moongeist Beam to shoot a rising vertical laser a couple times
  • Alolan Raichu – Uses electricity to surf around the stage and use Wild Charge, tackling into the opponents.
  • Alolan Vulpix – Uses Powder Snow to freeze opponents for a short moment.
  • Abra – Teleports around the stage and if the opponent is nearby Abra when it uses it, it goes with it to a random spot on the stage.
  • Togedemaru – Uses Zing Zap, but to what its use is is unknown (only small footage of it has appaeared).
  • Alolan Exeggutor – Not sure if it even uses a move, but its current use is that it creates a temporary vertical wall wherever it comes out of its Pokeball from.
  • Mimikyu – This Pokémon uses its Z-move (currently the only one that uses a Z-move), Let’s Cuddle Together where the shadow grabs you and pulls you underneath the cloth and damages you.  Reminds me of Gulpin back from Brawl essentially.
  • Pyukumuku – This may be Wobbuffet’s replacement, but this Alolan Pokémon uses Counter if an opponent strikes it.
  • Marshadow – Seems from what we saw that it stuns an opponent and uses its Signature move, Spectral Theif to punch it from behind!
  • Ditto – Initially was to be a Pokeball back in Melee but was cut due to time restraints and some issues with him, Ditto FINALLY makes his FIRST Pokeball appearance here.  Using Transform to change into your character and fights as an ally

Assist Trophies

  • Rodin – Comes out of the trophy and does some big punches (kind of like Bayonetta’s smash moves) and tosses an item before leaving.
  • The Squid Sisters – Callie & Marie appear on the stage to perform one of their songs while the camera slowly zooms in on them and by camera, I mean the blast lines are closing in as well and anyone caught outside of it is KO’d.
  • Bomberman – I mean if there was to be another KONAMI rep, it would’ve definitely been this guy here!  Bomberman appears and randomly places bombs with maximum firepower in the shape of the +.
  • Burrowing Snagret – This enemy from the Pikmin series pokes up from the ground and pecks nearby opponents.
  • Sukapon – This Japan-only character from Joy Mech Fight, Sukapon roams around and tosses opponents.
  • Arcade Bunny – I’m surprised they made this little dude an Assist Trophy but happy nonetheless!~  Anyways he pops out and uses his cranes to drag characters off the screen (like the Beetle and Boss Galaga items).
  • Alucard – Comes out and attacks using his Crissogram and can dodge attacks.
  • Zero – Comes out and slashes oppenents with his sword or uses a beam sword attack for long-range attacks.
  • Knuckles – Punches opponents and moves around by digging like a drill and can use a Homing Shot on nearby targets (with the reticule too!).
  • Krystal – Attacks using her staff and use her ice powers on occasion as well.
  • Klaptrap – Crawls on the ground and if it’s near an opponent, it’ll pounce and latch/bite them for a while.
  • Kapp’n – Drives a bus off the stage, not quite sure how it’ll work when there’s a pit involved, but so far it just drags the opponent off the side of the stage.
  • Chef Kawasaki – Essentially uses the move it has from both Kirby Super Star & Star Allies and was the Final Smash for Kirby back in Brawl where it grabs opponents and puts them into a cooking pot where healing items pop out!
  • Nikki – Another fun inclusion, this time from Swapnote of all things, Nikki appears and draws various pictures that do different things like a Bullet Bill that charges forward and whatnot.
  • Shovel Knight – Wow, an indie character is making his appearance as an Assist Trophy, that’s a pretty big deal I’d say and he uses basically what he’s known for which is the dig and the pogo hop.
  • Moon – As in the one from LoZ: Majora’s Mask, the Moon essentially does what it was all about in the game it originally came from…comes crashing down!!  Big explosion and VERY impactful.
  • Rathalos – Though Sakurai made a pretty big deal out of this Assist Trophy, not only being 3rd Party (from the Monster Hunter games), but it’s a huge one and it seems like it has other uses outside of it being an AT).  There’s more to this curiosity and we’ll get to that!  Rathalos in Smash has a LOT of different attacks like claw attacks to shooting fireballs!

Stages

So with the recent direct, we got a LOT more stages (mostly returning ones that weren’t confirmed yet) and a LOT of the great ones were included but with the knowledge that not all stages are returning we’re going to look at what is left.  Well, let’s look at the brand new stages first!

  • New Donk City Hall – Kind of spoiled about it in Mario’s character trailer from the main site, we finally get a better glimpse of this Super Mario Odyssey-themed stage and immediately it gives me similar vibes to Prism Tower (the Pokémon stage from Smash 3DS).  The thing that caught my eye is tapping the band members and Pauline will get them to perform the main theme for Odyssey.  Though I can’t help and wonder what if the track that plays isn’t the Odyssey theme, what happens then?
  • Dracula’s Castle – Other than Inklings, so far Simon’s the only other newcomer to a get a new stage (seems with all the nostalgia the stage selections been having), there won’t be many new stages it seems.  Anyways Simon (and Richter’s) stage is really neat and dark and very atmospheric.  Though it does seem a bit like a Battlefied stage but with walk-offs.  Though the big feature are the old bosses from the Castlevania games making an appearance like the Mummy, Werewolf, Carmilla etc. even to Dracula (who is speculated as a Boss?) and what could be Kid Dracula (from an OBSCURE Castlevania parody game).  Interesting stage though and I love the focus on detail like the attacking the candles for an item shtick.
  • Final Destination – It’s just like that with a new paint job, the ring in the back is interesting, but otherwise it’s the same FD.
  • Ancestral Steppe – While it hasn’t 100% officially been deemed a playable stage, it does house Rathalos on it and it looks like to be a Boss?  Like Dracula and his fight they both look similar using the full screen but lacks platforms.  Though just from assumptions, I do think there’s going to be a MH stage since Castlevania got its stage (just makes me wonder if Capcom’s next representative is going to be a Monster Hunter).

The Remaining Stages that aren’t in the game

  • Planet Zebes – Maybe deemed too similar to Brinstar to bring back and deal with, but I seriously don’t see why it couldn’t be brought back otherwise?
  • Sector Z – Same reason but with Corneria.  Though I thought it’d be back because it’s much larger and could handle the 8-Player Smash a bit better since there’s much more space to fight around.
  • Icicle Mountain – I think it’s the lack of popularity that the vertical scrolling stages that really put a damper here and Icicle Mountain had the extra struggle with adding ice physics to the platforms as well.  Add on the new stage shifting process and this could be an odd thing to work into!
  • Mushroom Kingdom (Melee) – Well with Mushroom Kingdom 64 making the cut and this one didn’t, I feel like this is the case of monotony here despite that both stages have different layouts (but seriously so many stages based off of the original Super Mario Bros. is tiring).  It may make the cut still because of the latter reason, but I wouldn’t count on it
  • Poké Floats – I mean this is an odd stage to begin with so I assume why it’s not back is pretty much due to the vertical scrolling and probably weird to implement to the stage shifting mechanic that was brought in.  It’d be neat to see, but another stage I won’t hold my breath against.
  • Mute City (Melee) – Not quite sure why this hasn’t returned, some people say it’s too much like Port Town: Aero Dive to warrant its non-inclusion, but I kind of disagree because we have other tracks the travel around to so to see Mute City not return is odd and there’s no other reason why it can’t be included (though it is nice to see Mute City (SNES) make the cut.
  • Flat Zone  & (Flat Zone 2) – Flat Zone X exists, moving on…
  • Mushroomy Kingdom 1-2 – Of these stages, this one I feel like it’s already there, but hasn’t shown off yet for some reason.  The underground variation of the stage was missing when its sister 1-1 made the cut for Smash 3DS, but now we’re back on the console and I’m curious to see if it’ll retain being a little bit of a hidden stage of just not make the cut entirely.  Probably has the biggest support of still being included to be honest.
  • Rumble Falls – Like Icicle Mountain, Rumble Falls is pretty much frowned upon because of the vertical scrolling that goes on here on top of the general odd layout of the stage mixed in with those purple spikes that can EASILY kill you at low percentages.
  • PictoChat – There just isn’t a true reason here for this not returning because unlike the Flat Zones, the 2 PictoChat stages are in and out entirely different from one another minus the basic stage layout (without the drawings essentially). Another point is that Pokémon Stadium 1 & 2 made it so why not both PictoChats?
  • Rainbow Road – Kind of the same story here compared to Mute City (Melee), it’s a pretty nice 3DS stage and the fact it’s a moving one also works well but not quite sure why it hasn’t shown up yet (maybe a graphical challenge perhaps?)
  • PAC-MAZE – Not sure how or why this one hasn’t been shown off yet, but PAC-MAZE is bizarre considering most gamers are familiar to the original PAC-MAN game looking like this arcade classic.  Not that extremely bizarre and brightly colored PAC-LAND.  Maybe the the stage’s gimmick is the reason, but we have Golden Plains (and Xerneas back) so there’s really no reason to not have this stage.
  • Jungle Hijinxs – I can see this missing because of the stage shift mechanic and honestly, I suppose that makes sense to me, but it was an interesting stage though being able to move from the background to the foreground, but yeah…it’d be hard to defend it when you have it transform to another and your character is in the background area.
  • Pyrosphere – Ridley is the most glaring reasoning, but I mean you could still use him because the Ridley on Pyrosphere is actually a clone (if we’re going lore wise).  You could also simple erase him too and just leave with the remaining enemies to stick around.  Not sure the reasoning otherwise.
  • Woolly World – Would the look of the stage REALLY affect its chances on making the cut?  I don’t know why Woolly World has been left off but there’s so many Yoshi stages that I feel this wouldn’t be too damaging, but it is from a pretty amazing game, so what gives?
  • Orbital Gate Assault – For a stage that took a year that ended up being disliked by the majority, it could have something to do with not being a returning stage.  I mean this stage was beautiful, but it was chaotic and the missile jumping and trying to land on the Arwings was just a bit screwy.  Otherwise, the stage switch mechanic might be an odd one too.
  • Miiverse – Miiverse is gone, its gimmick made useless and abused when it was active, and it’s just Battlefield… Yeah…

 

PHEW, what a lot of stuff to talk about, I’m sure the next Smash post will be rather small since I’m sure we’ll get a general Nintendo Direst talking about Online service so maybe we’ll get one character (maybe an echo too?).