Tag Archives: Remix’

Review: Raiden IV x Mikado Remix – Another Astoundingly Good Shmup For Switch

Back in the late eighties when 2D shooting games were a dominant form rather than a somewhat niche genre, a particular kind of shmup became very popular indeed. While the likes of Capcom’s 1942 certainly set the groundwork, the success of Toaplan’s separate 1987 arcade releases Twin Cobra and Flying Shark made hard-nosed, unembellished military shooting games very popular indeed. In the following two years came the likes of Twin Eagle, Meta Fox, Fighting Hawk, and Toaplan’s own Fire Shark and Twin Hawk.

By 1990, a Tokyo-based studio named Seibu Kaihatsu put a well-needed spin on what had become something of a shooting game trope. Rather than adding another straight-down-the-middle military shooter to the pile – and resisting any titular references to hawks, eagles, sharks or twins – the studio seasoned Toaplan’s recipe with sci-fi. Raiden had arrived, and while set in a distant future, it inherited much of the DNA from Twin Cobra and its ilk. It was mechanically straightforward, had a knack for encouraging dramatic play styles, and carried a hard-boiled tone that was captivating and intimidating in equal measure. Over thirty years on, Raiden is still with us, and a few spin-off games aside, it has never lost that play feel. Which brings us to Raiden IV x Mikado Remix, the latest release in the series.

Before tucking into the detail, if the title sounds familiar, this is hardly the first time Raiden IV has been released. The 2007 arcade original was quickly followed up by a very respectful Xbox 360 port the following year. Then, in 2014, came Raiden IV Overkill, initially for PS3 and soon thereafter PC, introducing a new scoring model that significantly shifted the flow and feel of Raiden IV – namely the Overkill system.

And so here we are with yet another Raiden IV release. Fortunately, Raiden IV x Mikado Remix offers the most definitive version of Raiden IV yet seen, compiling a generous suite of modes and arrangements, along with a wealth of new background music by some highly respected names from arcade culture. Created as a collaboration with the esteemed Japanese arcade Game Center Mikado, Raiden IV x Mikado Remix features artists including the Go Sato Band, Heavy Metal Raiden, Daisuke Matsumoto (Cave), and Hirokazu Koshio/COSIO.

Beyond the wealth of musical options you can choose between, you get a port of Raiden’s original arcade version, the ‘Additional’ mode that adds two new levels to arcade mode, Overkill Mode, a Score Attack arrangement that makes every available stage available to play individually, an unlockable Boss Rush setting for sparring with end-of-stage titans, a decent-sized gallery, and a simple replay function for recording your runs.

First and foremost, the Mikado Remix delivers a very decent port of Raiden IV’s various versions on Switch. It’s a delight to play on the go in portable mode – ideally with a Flip Grip, as full ‘Tate’ is supported. Dock your switch and plug in a stick, and you get a fantastic full-screen experience. Across the package, Raiden IV plays authentically and sounds sublime. The visuals are getting on a little from a technical standpoint and always went with an aesthetic that put 3D models before crisp pixel art. But the look here matches the tone, and important things like bullet clarity are never a problem. More importantly, Raiden IV is a tremendous shooter, and one of the most palpably exciting contributions to its genre.

In fact, while Raiden IV is beloved and well played, it’s not quite an icon of its form. But that, perhaps, is because it isn’t quite like the games that have come to define perceptions of the genre – those bullet hell masterworks like DoDonPachi, Ikaruga and Mushihimesama. Raiden IV doesn’t ask you to thread a minuscule hitbox through dense clouds of hundreds of bullets; nor does it lean into elaborate scoring systems as seen with the likes of Katsui, Battle Garegga or Deathsmiles. With Raiden IV you have a shoot button, a bomb button, movement on the stick, and that’s it. Across the range of included modes, various scoring systems exist to add depth, but they are simple and intuitive throughout.

Arcade mode still might be the standout, thanks to the risk-reward inducing purity of its Flash Shot system. Down enemies fast, and you get a multiplayer on their base score. That’s all there is to it – although you can add a few more points by grazing your ship close to bullets. The beauty of the Flash Shot system is that encourages you to play high-up the screen, point blanking enemies as soon as they emerge. That means big risks, which – combined with aimed bullet patterns that keep you on your toes – makes for consistently energetic, intense gameplay, where changes of fortune and dramatic shifts in pace define the experience. If you want to be toyed with by a game like a cat might play with a recently captured mouse, Raiden IV’s arcade mode has your back. It’s also a game where there is tremendous capacity for finding new ways to improve your score, meaning lasting replayability for those that are smitten.

Additional mode delivers the same thrills, albeit with shifting enemy patterns and types, and the two new stages, lending some variety for those that might be extremely familiar with the Arcade arrangement. Overkill dumps Flash Shot in place of its own system, which sees larger flying enemies linger in the sky after their destruction, letting you pound additional firepower into them to generate bonus score items. Again, it’s a purebred risk-reward system, where you have to decide between focusing your firepower on new enemies or letting them clutter the screen while you continue to unload into the remains of a down foe for points. Overkill significantly shifts the playstyle and rhythms of Raiden IV, but it remains purebred and thrilling. Score Attack, Boss Rush and the online leaderboard versions of the Arcade, OverKill and Additional mode lend more of the same. And then there’s doubleplay.

Raiden IV x Mikado Remix’s various modes feature a ‘Dual’ setting – that is, two-player mode. But ‘Double mode’ asks you to pilot both ships single-handedly, with all your effort contributing to a single score. It’s a play style that is rarely specifically supported in shooting games, and it sounds so intimidating that few people ever try it. But you really should. It’s remarkable what you can achieve after a few tries, and doubleplay offers one of the most distinct, exciting experiences not just in 2D shooters, but across gaming. In fact, the way Raiden IV’s enemies so often sweep in in paired sets, there’s even a case to be made that Raiden IV is really designed for doubleplay first and foremost. And there are even new firepower types to be found in placing one ship behind the other. Alas, there is no global leaderboard for Double mode. But that is one of the few black marks in this astoundingly good Raiden IV compilation.

Conclusion

Yes, Raiden IV is not a typical shmup by contemporary standards, and won’t be for everyone. Equally, all of these modes have been available in some form elsewhere. But as a single package, Raiden IV x Mikado Remix offers the Switch one of its best shooting game releases yet – and that is saying something on a console that has emerged as an unexpected star vehicle for the genre.

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This post originally appeared on Nintendo Life | Reviews

The Weeknd & Ariana Grande Transform Into Animated Characters For The ‘Save Your Tears’ Remix Video

Author Jason Brow
This post originally appeared on Hollywood Life

The Weeknd & Ariana Grande Transform Into Animated Characters For The ‘Save Your Tears’ Remix Video

Seven years after teaming up for ‘Love Me Harder,’ The Weeknd reunited with Ariana Grande to remix his ‘Save Your Tears.’ We even get to see The Weeknd and Ariana in cartoon form!

If you’re crying for joy that The Weeknd and Ariana Grande have once again collaborated on a track, well, grab a tissue and, as the song says, “Save Your Tears.” Nearly a decade after these two first teamed up, The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye, 31) and Ariana, 27, partnered to remix his song from his 2019 album, After Hours. The remix also comes with a brand-new music video in which The Weeknd and Ariana transform into cartoon characters. But this isn’t a video for kids — the animated visuals play out a compelling plot.

The Weeknd, Ariana Grande
Courtesy of Youtube

In the music video for the “Save Your Tears” remix, we are taken deep down into The Weeknd’s secret laboratory in the desert where he is constructing the perfect Ms. Grande. This also seems to be a wink at the fact that Ariana also acted as a mad scientist to build the perfect Ari robot in her music video for “34 + 35.” You can watch the trippy animation above, which was directed by Jack Brown (who was also in charge of character design).

The Weeknd and Ariana first teased that they were working together on Monday (Apr. 19) when they both shared an eight-second snippet of their vocals harmonizing the lyrics, “I don’t know why I run away.” A few days later, they confirmed the collab by sharing the remix’s official artwork to their social media accounts. The art depicted an animated version of Ariana being reflected in the giant sunglasses of The Weeknd’s After Hours character.

“Save Your Tears (Remix)” marks the third time that these two have teamed up. They previously connected on “off the table,” from Ariana’s 2020 album, Positions. They first worked together six years earlier on “Love Me Harder” from Ariana’s sophomore album, My Everything. Released in 2014, “Love Me Harder” peaked at No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100, making it Ariana’s fourth consecutive top-ten single off of her album. It was The Weeknd’s first top ten entry in the United States. Both “Love Me Harder” and “Earned It” – released in December 2014, the lead single to the Fifty Shade of Grey soundtrack – helped introduced The Weeknd to a wider, mainstream audience. It laid the groundwork for his subsequent superstar success – “The Hills” and “Can’t Feel My Face” would arrive in 2015, with “Starboy” following in 2016 – but the collab did more than that. “Love Me Harder” introduced The Weeknd to Max Martin, one of the song’s writers and one of the most successful songwriters in modern history.

The Weeknd & Ariana Grande Transform Into Animated Characters For The ‘Save Your Tears’ Remix Video
The Weeknd and Ariana Grande teamed up again (Shutterstock)

“Ariana was kinda my foot in the door with Max, my chance to show him ‘I can play this game,’ y’know?” he told Variety in 2020. “But when we got in the room together, we didn’t really connect as much. Then someone invited him to a show I did at the Hollywood Bowl, and he saw 15,000 people singing along, and I think he was like, ‘OK, there’s something I’m not getting.’ So we sat down again, and the first song we created was ‘In the Night.’” They also worked on the aforementioned “Can’t Feel My Face,” four songs from Starboy, as well as six tracks from After Hours, including the chart-topping “Blinding Lights,” and the original “Save Your Tears.”

“Max and I have become literally the best of friends, but I don’t do that with many people,” The Weeknd told Variety. “It’s not that I can’t, but a collaboration is a relationship, it’s like a marriage, you’ve gotta build up to it.”

Claptone Reveals Why He Chose To Remix ‘Living On Video’: It ‘Changed The Musical Landscape’

Claptone Reveals Why He Chose To Remix ‘Living On Video’: It ‘Changed The Musical Landscape’

The maestro of house music, Claptone, talks with HL about remixing Trans-X’s ‘Living On Video,’ how masks help you ‘become who you imagine yourself to be,’ and more.

The past came together with the present to make the sound of the future on Claptone’s remix of “Living On Video,” the 1983 worldwide hit from the synth-pop band, Trans-X. The masked House DJ took on the project as part of Unidisc Records celebrating its forty-year history, and it was a task that presented Clapton with a challenge. “On this one, I knew I wanted to do it,” he tells HollywoodLife in an EXCLUSIVE interview over email, “but didn’t have a vision on how to transport this amazing classic into the now and the dancefloors of today.”

“The sound and appearance of the band in the original video had a very strong impression on me,” Claptone adds. “So, I chose it because it was important for me, not really knowing what I would do with it, to be honest.” His vision came while working on the remix, and the results are transcendent. The song captures the spirit of the original while making it sound relevant to the current sound of today. One might not even know the vocals on the track were nearly forty years old. Such is the skill of Claptone.

During the interview with HollywoodLife, Claptone spoke about the “Living on Video” remix. He also reflected on performing in the pandemic – like others, he live-streamed his DJ sets, giving fans something to hold them over until it’s safe to return to the dancefloor. Claptone also spoke about the power of the mask and how wearing one to a show, even after the vaccine rollout, might not be such a bad idea.

Claptone Reveals Why He Chose To Remix ‘Living On Video’: It ‘Changed The Musical Landscape’
Who’s the man behind the mask? (Shutterstock)

HollywoodLife: In honor of Unidisc’s forty-year history, you were asked to remix works from their back catalog. You put your own take on Trans-X’s “Living On Video.” Did you select this work (and if so, what made you pick this out of all the others?)

Yes, I chose to remix “Living on Video,” saying that there were many great options and, to be honest, this song does not really reflect the Unidisc sound as much as others would have done. But it had a distinct influence on me as a music lover and musician. It was one of those tracks that changed the musical landscape with its impact and its sound.

The sound and appearance of the band in the original video had a very strong impression on me. So, I chose it because it was important for me, not really knowing what I would do with it, to be honest. Usually, I know what I’m gonna do when I take a remix on and otherwise won’t take the offer. On this one, I knew I wanted to do it but didn’t have a vision on how to transport this amazing classic into the now and the dancefloors of today. I just developed that vision when working on the remix. On this specific one, I did about three completely different versions and chose the one that just came out. Lots of work, but a classic like this deserves the work cause it deserves a great remix.

When we spoke to T-Pain in late 2020, he said that a remix could “tell another side” of a song’s story. What was the “story” you were attempting to tell with your version of “Living On Video?” 

Well, that story, from the perspective of the remixer, always revolves around the question: “How do I translate that original [song] to my dancefloor, to the people that love Claptone and House Music of today?” For me, it’s mainly about that. Introducing a song from a different context to my sonic universe. With some songs and tracks, you can easily do that. With some, it’s hard work (not that the listener would realize), and for some, this doesn’t work at all (usually the remix offers I turn down).

The project reminded me of how Madlib remixed elements of Blue Notes records into his Shades of Blue album. Would you be interested in constructing a similar project? I saw that you’re a fan of Factory Records – would you be interested in transforming and playing around with their sounds?

Hearing the first part of your question, I was like, “I’m gonna say ‘no’ to this, as I don’t want to be seen as just the remixer of catalogs of great inspirational labels and artists. I wanna be perceived as an artist in its own right writing original music and well – yes – making solid remixes.” But then you mentioned Factory Records. Damn, I would say yes to them if they’d approach me straight away!

Claptone Reveals Why He Chose To Remix ‘Living On Video’: It ‘Changed The Musical Landscape’
Claptone welcomes you to ‘The Masquerade’ (Shutterstock)

If you were to pick someone to remix one of your songs, who would you choose, and what track? 

It would be great to have Beck or Martin Gore remixing a Claptone song, Toro Y Moi, or even Odeza would be great as well. Then there are the more obvious House music remixers I’d love to have on a future release like Armand Van Helden, Paul Woolford, or John Summit. I am quite diverse in my musical preferences and wide open to stuff that’s a little left of center, like Myd, for example.

When was the last time that music gave you goosebumps?

Happens a lot during the production of new material and doesn’t happen too often when listening to the radio.  Saying that, I know, this sounds a bit selfish. I think when you make music yourself, you are in a position to express your emotions, and it’s easier for you to reach a point where you get goosebumps while mixing and composing.

It’s quite possible that, even with the vaccine rollout, the next show you play may be to an audience that’s also masked. Will that possibly affect the experience, since often you’re the only one wearing a mask at a show?

Well, at my event series The Masquerade, I actually always encourage people to wear masks and dress up. But wearing a mask to become who you imagine yourself to be in order to celebrate life and being close to others who feel alike is something completely different than needing to wear a mask in connection with social distancing and, at times, plastic cages. So, yes, it does affect the experience, but it’s better than not celebrate together for sure. But, in the end, we all look forward to a time when we can wear cool masks because we feel like it and we want to wear them to enhance the experience, that’s for sure.

As someone who has a penchant for masked groups, I’ve noticed that sometimes, the artists change the mask to represent a musical change or reflect a new moment in their artistic journey. Do you think you will ever modify the mask, or do you think altering it would compromise the Claptone identity?  

I can not see myself changing my mask as long as I feel comfortable with it, and I still do. But one must stay open-minded and open-hearted.

2020 saw yourself and a lot of artists perform via live stream. What do you think was the best part/aspect of that? 

The best aspect is that you can really dig deep, chose a certain theme, go back into time, do something you wouldn’t normally do, play something you wouldn’t normally play on a club night or in my Clapcast. I really enjoyed spinning some vinyl as well, which I didn’t do for ages. It felt great, apart from the fact that my gloves weren’t coming in handy there. But, just the fact that I was able to go through my record collection and could pick tracks I haven’t heard or played forever, tracks that aren’t on Beatport, Apple Music, or Spotify, a sonic empire that exists only on vinyl. That was great.

Will we be blessed with a new album in 2021?

Yes, you will! But it’s a secret 😉 What is not a secret and already out there for the streams is my new single “Zero.” Check it out if you haven’t really done that yet. First new Claptone track of 2021 but surely not the last. Thanks for reading this far. I really appreciate it!

Check out all of Claptone’s latest offerings: the “Living On Video” remix, his song “Zero,” and his remix of Storm Queen’s “For A Fool.

Jason Brow

This article originally appeared on Hollywood Life

Gwen Stefani Invites Saweetie To Throw It Back To Her Y2K Era In ‘Slow Clap (Remix)’ Video

Gwen Stefani Invites Saweetie To Throw It Back To Her Y2K Era In ‘Slow Clap (Remix)’ Video

Give it up for Gwen Stefani! She teamed up with Saweetie for a remix of ‘Slow Clap,’ and the video felt like it could’ve been aired on MTV in the early 2000’s.

It’s time for another round of applause. Nearly a month after dropping the original “Slow Clap,” Gwen Stefani[1] returned for the remix – and she’s brought Saweetie[2] with her! While this may be a new version of Gwen’s song, which dropped out on Apr. 9, the music video is a homage to Gwen’s Y2K roots in the early days of her solo career. Think the aesthetic of “Luxurious” visuals, but reinvented.

Gwen Stefani, Saweetie
[Courtesy of Youtube]

The setting of the video itself is very Y2K: a gym, much like the one in the 2000 film Bring It On[3]. Throughout the video, Gwen rocks spunky gym outfits that could’ve fit right in among the costumes in the early aughts cheerleader movie: varsity number tops, tiny gym shorts, tube socks and fish net tights. She also wears big gold hoop earrings, which were her signature in her “Luxurious” era — that song came out in 2004, FYI. Gwen’s backup dancers even sport cropped tees that say “Anaheim,” another way the video winks at Gwen’s roots (Gwen grew up in the Orange County city).

Gwen Stefani
[Courtesy of Youtube]

Saweetie joins the gym wear theme, stunning in outfits like a cropped pink tee and hot shorts covered in glittery neon pink stars. But the video isn’t entirely just one nostalgic throwback[4], which Saweetie makes clear by singing, “I ain’t no Hollaback Girl.” They later change out of their gym clothes to leap into the air in couture gowns as they sing about going from “underdog” status to being at “the top of the world.”

Saweetie
[Courtesy of Youtube]

Slow Clap[5]” was released on March 11, roughly four months after Gwen kicked off her return to music with “Let Me Reintroduce Myself[6].” The latter was her first non-Holiday, solo original music since 2016. The song was accompanied by a video featuring a gaggle of Gwens, each dressed from a different era in her expansive career. There was a No Doubt “Just A Girl” video Gwen, a “Hollaback Girl” Gwen, a “Don’t Speak” Gwen, and a fashionista (aka 1998 MTV VMAs red carpet) version of her, all vying for the spotlight. Both “Let Me Reintroduce Myself” and “Slow Clap” received generally positive reviews, with Sam Damshenas of Gay Times[7] calling the latter Gwen “at her absolute best.”
Gwen told Apple Music’s Zane Lowe[8] that the song was inspired by “all those movies from the eighties where you get clapped back to life. Like yes, ‘you’re not the underdog. You’re an awesome person.’ And I feel like it’s that thing that happens to us through our life. It starts in high school where you feel like you don’t fit in, and then sometimes your weirdness actually is what makes you so special, and so the song is kind of about that.” Gwen also spoke about her upcoming album, saying she does have an idea of what the title is going to be, and the she “did actually shoot he artwork for it.”

Gwen Stefani Invites Saweetie To Throw It Back To Her Y2K Era In ‘Slow Clap (Remix)’ Video
Gwen Stefani and Saweetie gonna make you (slow) clap. (Shutterstock)

“It feels like we’re at the edge of maybe, a little bit of a relief of what we were in before,” she said when discussing creating in the time of COVID. “It feels like we’re kind of in a new place, so basically all I have to do is just try to write new music every day. That’s kind of the zone I’m in right now, but what’s so great about now is you can put music out and write at the same time, that’s just like, that’s the new school, and we didn’t have that before so it’s kind of exciting. It’s not such a big deal anymore. It’s a big deal, but it’s like you can share it faster and not worry about it as much. It’s fun.”

For Saweetie, this “Slow Clap” remix heralds what might be her year. After breaking through in 2018 with “Icy Girl,” which landed her a deal with Warner Records, she’s been building buzz with hits like “My Type,” “Tap In,” and her collab with Doja Cat, “Best Friend.” 2021 will see Saweetie drop her debut studio album, Pretty Bitch Music. It was initially set for 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic pushed it back. The album focuses on “exponential growth and producing artistry,” she told Gal-dem, adding that she “wants people to have fun, to feel sexy [and] confident,” but also thinks it’s important to show an example of women “being about your business.” This teaming with Gwen will likely introduce Saweetie to a new audience, right in time for Pretty Bitch Music’s release.

References

  1. ^ Gwen Stefani (hollywoodlife.com)
  2. ^ Saweetie (hollywoodlife.com)
  3. ^ Bring It On (hollywoodlife.com)
  4. ^ nostalgic throwback (hollywoodlife.com)
  5. ^ Slow Clap (hollywoodlife.com)
  6. ^ Let Me Reintroduce Myself (hollywoodlife.com)
  7. ^ Gay Times (www.gaytimes.co.uk)
  8. ^ Apple Music’s Zane Lowe (music.apple.com)
  9. ^ #slowclap (twitter.com)
  10. ^ @saweetie (twitter.com)
  11. ^ https://t.co/B6yG7RDug2 (t.co)
  12. ^ pic.twitter.com/jrICnNzerr (t.co)
  13. ^ April 8, 2021 (twitter.com)

Jason Brow