Kurayami Monogatari

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BREAKERZ – Miss Mystery January 26, 2012

Filed under: BREAKERZ — solarblade @ 7:08 pm

Track Listing

  1. Miss Mystery
  2. Mr. Yes Man
  3. Sekai wa Odoru ~Acoustic Version~

1. Miss Mystery

BREAKERZ has been gradually getting more exciting and better with their A-sides and I’m really enjoying the hell out of Miss Mystery.  It doesn’t have a straightforward style which is good for them and stops from blandness.  It does seem like it’s a lighter version of “LAST†PRAY” with it’s darker-tinged atmosphere.  The chorus is a bit more poppier than it which is the biggest difference.  I thought a lot of the song sound great and so does DAIGO.  Solid start for a new era, I’ll say ^_^

2. Mr. Yes Man

The B-side lets the energy move a little more freely and it reminds me of their more older songs plus “GRAND FINALE”.  It’s actually pretty good and DAIGO doesn’t stress his vocals here, but I will say the verses are going to take a little time to get used to since DAIGO’s vocals sound a little unusual being more quiet and deeper.  What’s with the chanting of ~yes we can~?  This isn’t Bob the Builder guys…..All in all, it’s a fun song to listen to but not one of their better songs.

3. Sekai wa Odoru ~Acoustic Version~

Last but not least, we get an acoustic version of their 2nd A-side in Sekai wa Odoru.  Since we had two singles without an acoustic take of any song, seeing a new one on Miss Mystery was nice.  I actually like this version even though I haven’t heard the original.  It’s just super pleasant to listen to and AKIHIDE (I think….maybe SHUNPEI) played the guitars quite well against DAIGO’s vocals.  Impressive and is one of their best acoustic renditions yet.

 

 

BREAKERZ begins their 6th era with a pretty good single in Miss Mystery.  The leading song is energetic and a tad dark but enough to make it pop out and that’s why I liked about it.  However, the main star of the single has to be the acoustic take of Sekai wa Odoru…that was just pretty!  Mr. Yes Man is the weakest but makes sense since it’s just B-side material…Overall good start!

 

Super Mario Kart

Filed under: ~Video Game Reviews~ — solarblade @ 9:32 am

Overview

Ahhh, the game that started a new series of an already-existing one.  I mean side-games btw.  Super Mario Kart was released and it became one of the better SNES games for its interesting take on a racer (but I think we all know it was popular because Mario was involved).  It was also using the Mode 7 tech which gave the game a lot more to work with. 

Characters

It’s not bad that the first game of the series only had 8 characters: Mario, Luigi, Bowser, Toad, Yoshi, Donkey Kong Jr., Peach (though going by Princess Toadstool) and the oddest one IMO was Koopa Troopa.  They were all split off into 4 sub-groups, Mario & Luigi being the beginner, average characters, Yoshi & Peach were more of the ones with better acceleration that the Mario Bros.  Toad and Koopa were super light and DK and Boweser were the heavyweights. 

Also the CPU in this game couldn’t use items themselves which is odd >.> and gave a couple unique items instead.  Mario/Luigi had invincibility for a short time like the Star power.  Peach and Toad had mushrooms that turned your (or any kart that ran into it) into miniature versions and can be squashed XD.  Koopa laid green shells or shot them depending on placement and DK with bananas.  Bowser and Yoshi though had unique items though…Bowser had fireballs which he laid or shot forward and they go in a small circle round the area it was placed.  Yoshi’s egg was stationary but both items spun you out…which by the way…

Items

Let’s talk about the items.  Like any kart racer out, they share a lot of the same type of items.  I mean Mushroom for extra speed, banana peels and green shells act as traps (the latter moving).  Red shells homed in on the opponent in front of you (if you have any) and the Star made you temporarily invincible.  There were three other interesting items though.  The Boo makes you go invisible and possibly steal your opponents item (SWEET).  The lightning bolt shrinks everyone BUT the user and the forgotten feather just makes your kart hop super high (AKA making shortcuts happen). 

Of course coins also come into play as well since the more you have the better you are.  If you have none at the moment any kart that comes in contact will spin you out so be careful with that!

Tracks

I find it interesting as SMK is the only game from the series to have 4 cups with 5 tracks in each of them…kind of odd nowadays when compared to multiple releases after this.  As far as locales go this also has the weakest assortment IMO since there’s some recycled areas (ok every locale has at least two tracks representing it except for Rainbow Road).  Also, sharing with MK: Super Circuit, all of the tracks are FLAT but this was just because it was limited to be honest, so the creativity in the tracks isn’t as great as later releases show (and most of the tracks were given new facelifts in the later games too).  I will say, the Special Cup tracks were the best of the bunch.

Gameplay

Simple, it’s a racer and you have to win.  Though I will say every Mario Kart has a different feel to it and this one is honestly the easiest one to get into because there’s no true importance to it.  I mean you still drift but not in the way it was implemented in 64 and up.  The game does have a little problem with its A.I. called rubberbanding.  Kind of means that the harder the cc is, the more obvious it is.  What that is is if you’re too far ahead the CPU will ungodly chase your ass down and prevent you from winning (unless you’re good at this game and used to it). 

Graphics / Sound

  • Graphics: So as I said earlier, it’s under Mode 7 which is a rather unique mode of graphics which induced a 3d-like scene…but in 2D….A couple other games used this (like the other Nintendo racer F-Zero).  I have to say, it worked well for sure and it worked.  There was a way that if you won a time trial without hitting walls or falling off…you could swing the camera around the kart….it was awesome at the time!  Otherwise, there wasn’t too much to gawk at besides the bright colors.  Characters looked stiff and didn’t do much in their kart…hmmph weird. 
  • Sound: Sound though was a plus here IMO.  I mean I can remember the exact way the Mario Circuit theme went and most of the characters winning themes (the only one the had character-specific win themes actually).  The tracks songs are great and all of them are actually memorable in its own way. 

Other Things To Do

Well…let’s be honest there’s not a lot to do in this game…just 4 things….

  • Cup Races: Like I said split into 4 cups each having 5 tracks isn’t going to last long but you can race them in 50cc, 100cc, 150cc.  Meaning the higher the cc the harder it gets (it’s a well known sentiment in the series),
  • Time Trials: Get your best time here!  There’s even times where you can race a ghost of yourself which is pretty cool and makes you want to defeat yourself in the race.
  • VS. Races: Actually this could’ve been put above time trials…but essentially 2P races.  Though I think you could also do singularly too…?
  • Battle Mode: Though if you have a second person with you, you’re more than likely to find yourself here where you can battle your friend.  It’s essentially pop ur friend’s three balloons before he/she does and vice versa.  Having only four choices though of battle courses kind of suck…but the Ice one and Beach one is the best! 

 

OVERALL: 7/10

As it is the first of a happy series (especially for Nintendo’s sales) SMK was such a smart move for them to be honest and really blew the kart racer genre out.  I mean it brought out another GREAT one but that’s a different review for later.  The original Mario Kart might not be as held on a high pedestal as before but it’s still a pretty fun game.  I will say that the flat tracks is probably one of the reasons (same problems goes with Super Circuit but that one is the least popular).  Nostalgic game for sure ^_^

 

lecca – Step One January 25, 2012

Filed under: lecca — solarblade @ 7:24 am

Track Listing

  1. Jammin’ the Empire
  2. HI-TEN feat. ILMARI & SU
  3. Familia!
  4. Right Direction
  5. Shissou Mother
  6. ONE WORD
  7. Yaru Naraba
  8. missing Ordinary
  9. INFORMER
  10. Dolce
  11. Dreaming of you feat. EMI MARIA
  12. get ur morning
  13. gift
  14. Bokutachi no Sekai
  15. Saisei

1. Jammin’ the Empire

Kicking off the album, Jammin’ the Empire was one of two promotional songs from the album and I thought this actually started things off on a good note even if the intro was a little long.  Once lecca joins in, the tune moves into a dance-quality song.  Of course lecca has unique vocals though so it’s something to get used to if you’re getting into her in the first place.  It’s still pretty solid of a song and a great way to kick things off.

2. HI-TEN feat. ILMARI & SU

Working with ILMARI & SU from RIP SLYME, HI-TEN is kind of continuing on this very electro/dance style but I’m liking the energy from this song since it brought two rather enthusiastic MCs into the game to mix it up.  Though I have to say that I enjoyed lecca the most out of this collaboration but it’s not to say the guys didn’t do bad.  Once again, such good movement in the song, I have to say!

3. Familia!

During the era, there were two digital singles and this would be the first of em actually.  Once again a lot of synths are found in this song but it isn’t as beat driven actually which is a little surprise but a good move after “HI-TEN”.  Actually, it kind of has this celebratory sound which is a new direction and it’s something I really enjoy.  It’s just fun and has a great atmosphere to it…I’m kind of liking this!

4. Right Direction

Unfortunately, the album comes to a halt with the only physical release in the era.  I’m still not a huge fan of this song even though it does stand out early in the album for being more of a slower song for her.  Sadly, it was overshadowed by its B-sides and now overpowered by the album tracks.  Plus, I still can’t help but chuckle hearing lecca pronounce the title lol.

5. Shissou Mother

Then it gets WEIRD with Shissou Mother.  The song is definitely more absurd and unusual than it is applicable to a listener.  The music is VERY kiddy-like with some odd instrument and stuff that sounds more preferred to iono….Minimoni perhaps?  Add in cries from a baby and it sort of starts to make sense to me…but at the same time it’s just very WTF for me and kind of bizarre but she sounds good though and she sings/raps fast here hahah…I just don’t know if I can take this song seriously.

6. ONE WORD

At least she gets grounded when ONE WORD comes on which has a nice little island theme to it with steel drums being included.  It’s one of the feelgood songs to listen to and it’s simple but really relaxing to listen to.  Though once again her English is kind of laughable…~wahhh waaard~?  I just can’t with that…

7. Yaru Naraba

Electric guitars opening Yaru Naraba?  I guess it must be a sign.  To me, Yaru Naraba kind of reminds me of “Familia!” with the upbeat dance style but it’s just as good IMO.  I kind of liked this song actually, it was just all kinds of catchyness.  Maybe as good as “Familia!” though they are a bit similar huh?

8. missing Ordinary

At least I knew what lecca said in the intro XD.  I’m surprised also at how simple this one sounds since it’s just R&B but with easy beats.  At first it did seem to be a tad boring but after the halfway mark it gets so much better with synths and a lot better of a melody added to the rather minimal sound it has.  It’s alright but I wish it didn’t take that long to get to the parts.

9. INFORMER

Luckily she didn’t forget her main style and INFORMER is a great reggaeton track and she sounds like she’s having a blast with this one.  As the other promotional song, she chose a winner because it has everything that I kind of wanted and it did slightly end the happier songs (even if it’s for one song).  Loving this!

10. Dolce

Oh, I guess it isn’t just one song, Dolce might not be a fierce as “INFORMER” but this song is also upbeat and definitely for clubs hahah.  I will say though that it lacks something that doesn’t stick to me like other lighter songs like “Jammin’ the Empire” did…I think it might be a rather simple dance track to me…

11. Dreaming of you feat. EMI MARIA

Pan flutes opening one of lecca’s songs?  That’s all kind of random for me hahah.  It’s easy to tell who’s who because lecca has the deeper vocals while EMI has the higher girlier pitch.  Still there’s not a lot of her until in the second verse but she kind of reminds me of Kanayan oddly enough.  After a while, I do notice the march style becoming more prominent…it’s an interesting song no doubt…I think I liked this collaboration more than “HI-TEN”.

12. get ur morning

If there was one song that was just a little too long for itself, it was definitely this one!  As it’s another ballad on the album it’s a bit more slower than “Right Direction” was but it was godawful long for me and just felt a little bland to me.  It’s probably my least favorite of the album.

13. gift

As we get near the end of the album, we get into the other digital single released in the era.  It follows in the same vein as “get ur morning” but this was more interesting and had a bit more movement (plus lecca’s vocals are so much better here).  Though of the previous released stuff, I’m not liking this much either but at least it’s a step up above the previous track. 

14. Bokutachi no Sekai

Oooo, I’m really liking the intro to Bokutachi no Sekai a lot.  It sounds like background music to a traditional Japanese movie or something.  It has kids talking shortly before lecca ad-libs and beats are added in.  I could say this can be considered a ballad, but it’s a little more upbeat than that, but I’m really loving the song.  Not full of bells and whistles, just keeps it at a solid level…not like the boring level “get ur morning” was though.

15. Saisei

Closing the album out, Saisei is another ballad which is kind of disappointing to me but this is one of those uplifting ones by sound which is a little different from the others but it doesn’t drive the problem of being too long away.  It’s just as long as “get ur morning” which is all kinds of not-so-good opinions in my mind.  It makes for an appropriate ending…but otherwise…I can’t remember this song very well.

Tracks Recommended

  • INFORMER
  • Dreaming of you feat. EMI MARIA
  • Familia!
  • Bokutachi no Sekai
  • Jammin’ the Empire

Song of Avoidance

  • get ur morning

At first, I was actually blown away by Step One since it had tons more solid songs than “Power Butterfly” did which is a good thing…that is until we got into the final stretch where lecca piled the ballads/slower songs at the end which kind of made the album a bit of blur.  However if she had simply rearranged the tracklist around that wouldn’t have been as bad as a problem.  The rest of the album though is great and people should take a listen to this album…though I will warn ya…unique vocals!

 

Morning Musume – Pyocopyoco Ultra January 24, 2012

Filed under: Morning Musume — solarblade @ 8:54 pm

Track Listing

  1. Pyocopyoco Ultra
  2. Kanashiki Koi no Melody
  3. Pyocopyoco Ultra (Instrumental)

1. Pyocopyoco Ultra

I know I haven’t stated my opinion on anything that revolved around Pyocopyoco Ultra but this is my time to talk bout it hahaha.  I’m all for rejuvenating Momosu after their rather LONG line of solidarity…but since “Maji Desu ka Ska!”, it’s been an odd line though good shift of singles.  When I saw the covers/outfits for the single I was actually shocked because I knew they were dealing with 8 young members and all…but dressing them up like poor allusions to Chocobos was a BAD decision.  Even the elder members were kind of bleh at it.  As for the song, It’s not terrible but it’s definitely their cutest song since “Hyokkori Hyoutanjima” and actually sounds more like a S/mileage tune than a Momosu one.  I will say that it’s nice to hear most of the members get a solo line or two (though Kanon and Erina got royally screwed).  It’s not their worst song but it’s definitely on the low spectrum for me…>.>

2. Kanashiki Koi no Melody

However, I’m loving the B-side of the single and I’m surprised in recent times they’ve been getting better B-sides than A-sides >.>  Even better, all the members get a solo line and it actually works because they put as groups with their respective group like Gaki, Reina, Sayu, and Aika together and the kyuukies and jyuukies.  We also get better sounds from the new members mostly and I have to say Ayumi and Haruka sound great, Masaki has good S/mileage-tinged vocals but it works oddly enough…and well Haruna needs work…in time though…As for the song it reminds me of “Heroine ni Narou ka!” but lighter I think.  Still SO MUCH BETTER THAN PPU.

 

 

I have to say I kind of wished Tsunku didn’t take the group into S/mileage mode for this single.  I mean “Kare to Issho ni Omise ga Shitai!” was one thing but it didn’t sound like their younger sister group.  Pyocopyoco Ultra is just a slam on the brakes and way too oddball for them.  Like awkward actually.  Kanashiki Koi no Melody though is the MUCH preferred song…danceable and has good vocals and equality for the most part.  Yeah this was an awesome song.  As a whole?  PPU shouldn’t have been promoted (and it’s weird being the opening theme to their math drama)…

 

MONKEY MAJIK – HERO

Filed under: MONKEY MAJIK — solarblade @ 7:15 pm

Track Listing

  1. HERO
  2. HERO -English version-
  3. Headlight -DJ Mitsu the Beats remix-

1. HERO

I like how the tune starts with Blaise and Maynard opening the song acapella style.  Unlike “Headlight”, this is more of a traditional ballad from them but I have to say I really like hearing the two singing since their vocals are great for this song (even though it’s still a Blaise-fest).  It’s not as strong of a song like “Headlight” was, but it’s pretty solid of a song.

2. HERO -English version-

Like it says, it’s in English and otherwise it’s not really all that different musically so it’s just a shift of lyrics.  Even though I’m kind of surprised that it’s 10 seconds longer…wht?  I will say that it’s easier for Westerners because it’s easier to understand the song.  It’s actually quite romantic and deep which is typically MOMAJIK’s best assets!  I think I’d rather listen to this version.

3. Headlight -DJ Mitsu the Beats remix-

Talking about Headlight, we get a remix of the song, (y’know, the same guys that remixed “Aishiteru” a while ago).  Headlight got toned down quite a bit and seems like it’s a lullaby…odd.  It wasn’t resung either so it’s just a little bland actually.  It just took out what made the original awesome…

 

 

MOMAJIK’s HERO isn’t quite as up to snuff like “Headlight” was but that’s alright.  I will say that I enjoyed the English version of HERO a tad bit more than the Japanese version but I’m it’s just because I can understand it better that way.  The remix though for Headlight shouldn’t have happened IMO…I could’ve lived without it haha.

 

Yuya Matsushita – Kimi e no Love Song ~10nen Saki mo~

Filed under: Yuya Matsushita — solarblade @ 6:39 pm

Track Listing

  1. Kimi e no Love Song ~10nen Saki mo~
  2. Life in the dark
  3. Dream on dreamer (Limited D only)
  4. Virtual World (Limited E only)
  5. Fuyuzora (Regular edition only)
  6. Kimi e no Love Song ~10nen Saki mo~ (Voiceless)

1. Kimi e no Love Song ~10nen Saki mo~

I wasn’t surprised that Kimi e no Love Song would be a ballad from him but I didn’t expect it to be R&B as well.  I loving the relaxed nature of this song to be honest and Yuya really fits here quite nicely.  I will say this is surprising because I haven’t been the biggest fan of his ballads to be honest hahaha.  Definitely better than “Bird” as a song actually…quite nice!

2. Life in the dark

Found on most editions of the single, the main B-side comes first in Life in the dark.  I wasn’t sure what to expect from this song but it kind of fits in more alongside “Naturally” actually since it’s a little more upbeat and kind of is a mid-tempo kind of song.  I have to say I get nostalgic 80’s vibes from the song and I’m enjoying the tune a while lot.  The guitar solo though was kind of out of place but not killing.  Pretty interesting B-side.

3. Dream on dreamer

Then we get into edition exclusive songs starting with Dream on dreamer.  I was happy to see that this was the first upbeat song which is something he definitely excels in.  It’s a bit lighter than songs like “SUPER DRIVE” and “Secret Love” but this still has a solid beat and a great synth drive.  I actually really like this song…

4. Virtual World

I was curious to what this song would bring because it was the only track that didn’t have a title when the single was announced.  It’s not as virtual as I thought it’d be and it goes weirder because Yuya is rapping in the song which is something I didn’t exactly know he could do lol.  I don’t know why but I’m kind of turned off by it hahaha.  I think it’s just too random for him to pull and he suffers from MC stale notes (you know rapping on the same note and not adding spice to it). 

5. Fuyuzora

Finally, closing out this single is the tune found on the regular edition of the single, Fuyuzora is another kind of ballad but a wintry one at that.  I’m kind of just like it’s alright, but nothing entirely special about the song.  I’m sure it would’ve been more interesting in the “I AM ME” era and not here…then again we already have “LAST SNOW”…

 

 

As the final single for the “2U” era, Kimi e no Love Song isn’t all that bad but I don’t know if I called this his best single of the era.  I have to say though that Dream on dreamer is his best song on this single since it’s upbeat and has great flow to it.  After that, I’d say Kimi e no Love Song was the next best for it’s soohing atmosphere and good vocals.  Life in the dark is good too and brings us a nostalgic trip ^_^.  Fuyuzora and Virtual World though were kind of mediocre and forgetful overall (plus Yuya rapping is weiiiiird).  Now I’m curious to see what songs will make the cut for this album!

 

KOKIA – Memorial days

Filed under: KOKIA — solarblade @ 5:49 pm

Track Listing

  1. Memorial days
  2. 0 Kara no Hajimari
  3. Memorial days (Instrumental)
  4. 0 Kara no Hajimari (Instrumental)

1. Memorial days

As a theme for the GUNDAM series, I was kind of excited to hear Memorial days, though I wasn’t expecting something so quiet to come from KOKIA (especially after “New Day, New Life”).  It’s really light and it has KOKIA singing in a higher pitch than I’m used to which is different but she sounds OK.  It’s nice that more instruments join in after a while with just her and piano.  I’m just not really into the song as much as her other A-side.

2. 0 Kara no Hajimari

The B-side unfortunately goes in the same direction as “Memorial days” as a ballad but she sounds a little better here actually.  I’m stull bummed that it’s still essentially piano before underlying strings join in but I preferred this to be the leading song to be honest. 

 

 

Boring single is kind of boring here and I had rather high hopes for this single to be honest.  Neither Memorial days and 0 Kara no Hajimari really spoke to me and she clearly has better ballads in her repetoire to throw out so I’m rather surprised that it just didn’t work.