Author Archives: jialilabyrinth - Page 5


Frequency is one of Harmonix’s early music rhythm games and have been the forerunner of its later franchise, Guitar Hero. Harmonix later published Amplitude as a sequal to Frequency.

In the game, the player play as the FreQ, who manuveurs through a octagonal tunnel during the gameplay. The game looks like a racing game or flight simulation game in that the player controlls the FreQ’s movement as it travels between the 8 tracks of the tunnel.

Each stage has a song associated with it, which is broken down into 8 components, each linked to one of the tracks in the tunnel; to name a few, one track may be the vocal of the song, one may be the bass, one the synthesizer, and so on. While traveling on a track, the player has to sucessfully perform two segments by hitting the corresponding face buttons, which is arranged to sync with the song.

Harmonix Games

Game Review for Frequency

Frequency info (Wikipedia)

Amplitude (Wikipedia)

The game also allows players to remix their own track of music. Users may pick elements from the in-game songs and remix them into another song. These remix songs can also be played as stages, though there will also be no scores kept.

Samba de Amigo

This game is originally on Sega Dreamcast, has been ported onto Wii, and appearantly can be played in arcade as well. With the same concept of music performance with mock instrument controllers (as Rockband and Guitar Hero), the controllers for the Dreamcast and arcade are two Maracas. Players have to shake the  maracas in 6 different locations (defined by left/right and altitude). Occasionally, the player has to post a pose with the maracas as well.

Here is someone who got real crazy with the arcade.

I’m personally wondering if the game distinguishes between the right/left maracas during the gameplay. It appears that in the Menu mode, one maraca acts as the arrow pad and the other the Select button. The Dreamcast controllers are ultrasound sensors that works with a sensor bar, while the Wii version utilies the Wiimote and Nunchuk; for the latter, maraca attatchments are also available. The Dreamcast maraca controllers are, by the most part, considered to be too expensive.

Gitaroo Man

A music action game which so far is ported on PS2 and PSP. Taking place in Gitaroo Planet, the hero is a young boy whose alter-ego, Gitaroo Man, is the last legandary hero on the planet. Gitaroo Man battles using his Gitaroo (which, as it appears, is a weapon that takes the form of a guitar), and the game is played with the controller, mainly the analog joystick and face buttons.

A Youtube video on the gameplay

Some quick info on Wiki

This game has a nice way of using the traditional game controller in a music rhythm game. It certainly is more intuitive than playing Taiko no Tatsujin or Dance Dance Revolution with the controller; my previous experience with those two scenarios had made me somewhat aprehensive when it comes to music games utilizing traditional game controllers. On the other hand, Gitaroo Man‘s interface made it intuitive enough to relate the action of playing music with the game controller.


Auditorium is a music puzzle game, where players have to place force fields in space to lead a flow stream towards one or more targets. When the flow stream hits the target, the sound layer associated with that target will play as well. A stage is won when the flow stream and fill up the meters of each target.


The sound layer blending is well done. Music is not that critical to the core mechanis itself, but it is a vital gameplay response.

Drum Circle

I went to the drumming circle today – with my Chinese waist drum~ Yay~

The drumming circle is led by Amir Alan Vahab, who was interviewed by a Turkish TV Show today as well.

The group emphasize on drum healing and spirituality. I at first wasn’t sure how I’d fit into this, since I realized on arrival that the group’s emphasis is on music from the Middle East.

By the end, I’d have to say I did have fun. There are people of different levels of expertise in the group. What we do is having one person choose a song or rhythm, and the others join in. The leader specifically told us not to worry about technicalities. I, for one, mainly follow other people’s drumming, though later on I eventually took on my own beating pattern.

The others seemed excited to see my waist drum (which I got in Chengdu, China. The Pearl store in Chinatown also sell these in a much higher price). They even played around with it and came up with new ways to perform with it; that includes different ways of sticking and playing with hand, like a Djembe. It was also then when I learnt that the two sides of this drum have different tunes (takes a pro to find that out).

Dead Fantasy

Here’s a fan animation produced by Monty Oum. It’s a crossover animation between the games Dead and Alive and Final Fantasy.

This work has 5 installments now, and there is sort of a “studio” set up, too. When they first started, the animators actually used models done by others. The real job was animating the characters and camera (which is awesome, nonetheless.)

New Thoughts

Isabel Samaras and R. Sikoryak had a talk last Thursday on mutating and adapting elements of pop culture to create new work. The former is a painter who inserts pop icons into classical painters. The latter drew comics where classical literature is retold with the aesthetics of Little Lulu, Garfield, Tales of the Crypts, and Batman.

I didn’t get to attend the lecture, but I managed to stop by and get their books. After going through some of their stuff and looking up some stuff on the Lowbrows and Pop Surrealism, I couldn’t help but feel that, “Man, I wish I could do something like that.” Previously I’ve considered making a drumming game for teaching or recreating the experience of drum performance, but now I really want to give the “fan culture and parody” concept some serious thoughts.

In one way, I could turn this into something very personal. Currently, I’m having an obsession over the Anime and game fanwork subculture, to a point where it’s becoming somewhat unhealthy. On the other hand, I want to explore drumming, percussion instruments, and music games, because these are the stuff that has a positive effects on my mind and concentration.

Nonetheless, I don’t want to just put my obsession for fandom into box; truth be told, that has been one of my motivations to come to an art school like Parsons….

The best option I have so far seems to be to make this thesis about my struggle to balance this obsession and channel that energy to create something. I still want to work with the drumming game, since that has been an interesting medium of expression for me as well. (And truth be told, I’ve put too much energy on this already to quit.)

So, the main objective for my thesis now is to explore the relationship between virtual content and physical medium. The physical medium I choose now is the drum triggers and other New Interface for Music Expressions with percussion instruments. The virtual content will be the things I’m more familiar with, such as Japanese Anime and Manga, TV shows, music videos, games, and internet content; to be more general, anything that makes you sit in front of a screen.

For the audience, I’m moving away from the general, commercialized consumers to the cult audiences of gamers, particularly those who is familiar with games at its earlier stages, the 70’s and 80’s generation. The final product will be placed in a setting for game shows, conventions, and exhibitions.

Questions to ask for this thesis:
– Can there be a Lowbrow movement for games?
– How different will the player experience be if a classical game with preconceived gameplay adapts a new gameplay? Directions for this can be:

  • Using controllers other than existing game controllers. For example, using a drum trigger board instead of a game controller with buttons.
  • Adapting one gameplay into another genre with a completely different context. Existing examples will be how House of the Dead is turned from a first-person-shooting game into a typing game with Typing of the Dead.
  • Presenting a digital game into analog form. For example, make a Final Fantasy version of Order of the Sticks.

– Board game (Using existing video game characters)
– Exploit drum as a medium of game control and have it merge with games that are not music-based. (Donkey Konga is an example of such.) Make it so that a percussion instrument can be used to play one of the following:

  • First-Person-Shooter
  • Role Playing Games
  • Pinball
  • Blockbuster

– Gameplay Meshup
Re-invent screenshots from games, so that characters from one genre enters the realm of another game, ideally the aesthetic style between the two games are drastically different. Example: EBA & Ouendan gameplay with characters of other series.

Idea #2 – Fan Creation and Parody

I currently have an obsession over the fan culture over certain series, which I felt I need to deal with in this thesis.

For this idea, I wanted to do a parody piece that serve as a commentary to popular media and current events. Ideally, I’d like to work on comics, shows, and games which I know; that will mostly be Japanese Anime, role-playing games, and old cartoons in the US.

Currently, there are many forms in which this idea can be realized. Here are some rough ideas and precedance:

  • Parody Video – A lot of examples on Youtube. It could be a fanwork or just simple satire. The subject can range from shows, comics, games, movies, politics, sports, and entertainment.
  • Lowbrows/Pop Surrealism – The two terms generally means the underground art movement. There are some artists, such as Isabel Samaras, who did paintings where pop icons portrayed in classic masterpiece paintings.
  • Doujinshi – Similar to the Lowbrow movement, this term refers to the subculture of underground art creations that originated in Japan. Amoungst those are works that are based on mainstream comics, animation, and games. A majority of these works are comics, novels, and illustrations that are either on print or online. These works may also take the form of music, games, dolls, stationaries, and daily accessorites.

If I can make a game that is a parody of an existing piece, such as a wacked version of Rockband? Or maybe introduce a new gameplay for a genre with preconcieved gameplay, like Typing of the Dead has done?

It will be even better if I can merge this idea with Divine Beats somehow….

Idea # 1: Divine Beats

My first thesis idea is to continue a game I have started at Spring 2009 – Divine Beats.

Divine Beats is a drumming game done in Flash. It is played with an external drum controller. Each stage will present a unique gameplay based on how drums are utilized in human’s daily lives.

The story started with a boy who obtained a drum for his birthday. It turns out that the drum is possessed by a Drum Spirit. With his own agenda in mind, the Drum Spirit forced the boy onto a journey that will lead to numberous encounters, each of which the duo will have to resolve with their drum performances.

Each stage will present an episode in their quest; here is the synopsis:

1) In the first stage (also the only stage with a working prototype now), the drummer has to beat the drum loud and fast enough to drive away an intruding beast.

2) For the second stage, I wanted to do something related to drum as a communication tool. At first, I laid down a framework where a gameplay similar to Taiko no Tatsujin and Rockband is used: the player have to play a drum score correctly in order to convey a message.

Later on, it appears that the action of playing the drum score is not strongly connected to communication. Hence, I decided to step back and try something simpler. For the summer, I was playing around with game mechanism emphasizing on “using drum to send commands to someone”. In these tests, the drummer uses
a drum code to command a blindfolded person towards a destination.

3) For the third stage, I wanted to simulate the Dragon Boat Race. The player is the drummer of a boat crew and is responsible for pacing the crew’s paddling. It is similar with the first stage in that players will want to beat the drum faster and louder. However, the player also has to be keen to the crew’s conditions and not overburn them.

4) Since different drums hit in different ways will produce different sounds, there can be a stage where the drummer has to help on a theater stage in sound effects.

5) If I were to merge this idea of drumming with fan culture and parody, I might eventually have to do a stage that is played like Rockband and Taiko no Tatsujin.

A probe post

I will be moving most of the stuff from my Divine Beats project to this site bit by bit. For now, this will serve as my production log.

I am in quite a mess, though. Even if I continue an old project, there are new questions to ask and answer now. Not to mention that I wanted to do something related to fandom and parody as well now.

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