The fifth instalment of Grand Theft Auto’s main game series took some notable steps towards further establishing the franchise’s relationship with the hip hop community. Reputable producers The Alchemist and Oh No were signed on as composers for the game, tastemakers such as Big Boy and Flying Lotus were given roles as in-game radio hosts and its commercial soundtrack featured original contributions from the likes of A$AP Rocky, Danny Brown and BJ The Chicago Kid. But perhaps one of the most intriguing connections to the genre comes not from anyone with a direct hand in producing rap music, but rather the game’s player base as a result of their reaction to one of its newer, more recreational features.
Sometimes we get bored of shooting robots, saving the world from evil time sorceresses and rolling around at the speed of sound. We could (and probably should) take a 15 minute break to breathe and look at something that isn’t pixels, but those pesky game developers managed to sneak smaller games inside the much larger games, and those now constitute the “break” from the main game.
We might be developing severe eyesight problems, but these mini games are so much fun that it’s probably worth a bit of blindness sometime in our 40s.
Here are the best mini games we could think of with a loose attitude to content deadlines. Enjoy!
Triple Triad in Final Fantasy VIII
Mini games are usually a nice little distraction every now and then, with small rewards so you don’t feel like you’ve completely wasted your time. Usually.
Square unwittingly made the rewards for the Final Fantasy VIII mini game Triple Triad SO GOOD that working out its nuances and rewards can break the game, using the Card Mod ability. It’s a vestige of those old video games where you felt like you were doing something you weren’t supposed to, but through legitimate means.
Aside from its impact on the main game, it’s an incredibly enjoyable card game in its own right, and has a bouncy, unforgettable theme song to go along with it. Shuffle or Boogie? It’s hard not to do both tbh.
Chao Garden in Sonic Adventure 2 Battle
Sonic Adventure 2 is inarguably the best Sonic game ever, and it’s not cause Eggman fuckin’ blows up the moon or cause Knuckles gets his own dadrap soundtrack. It’s instead because of the adorable, tamagotchi-esque Chao garden.
Despite the simplistic racing, the Chao garden’s depth is found in the raising system, giving a Sonic game unique replayability, as you revisit levels a shameful amount of times searching for an elusive dragon or some goddamn fly drives, while the simple act of playing with your Chao (or abusing it if you’re a worst video game dad) can decide whether it goes to heaven or creepy as hell.
This all ultimately leads to a Chao growing and developing in a variety of unique ways, hours on the clock and money on your parent’s electric bill can happen attempting to get that perfect Chaos 0 Chao, we all knew Sonic Chaos are for chumps.
NES Games in Animal Crossing
Video games weren’t as commonplace in the late 80s/early 90s as they are now, and most parents probably weren’t willing to pay £40 on a new game. That meant a lot of excited kids missing out on a lot of fun games.
In 2001, Nintendo made the biggest retro power move and made former poor kids jizz their pants by including 10+ NES games on Animal Crossing. It allowed players to replicate real life by avoiding gardening and household responsibilities and instead playing Excitebike and Donkey Kong.
The best kind of mini games are full games within games. Two (or 10) games for the price of one is the best kind of bargain. Free nostalgia!
Hacking in Nier: Automata
When (SPOILERS!!!) Nier: Automata hands the story over to 9S, you’re greeted with a less combat ready droid then his partner 2B. Fortunately, Platinum gives him a fresh playstyle with a fun but tough mini game that reveals new ways to navigate the desolate open world.
Hacking an enemy bot reveals an Asteroids-style game that gives you a tight deadline to wipe out triangles unrelenting in their gunfire, naturally dropping you into more unforgiving areas when hacking stronger enemies. In the spirit of this arcadey mini game, even the music switches from dramatic choirs and lingering emotion for almost comical 8-bit delight.
The game rewards you kindly for a successful hack, allowing you the chance to play as a wildly different array of robots (protip: hack a link sphere to sneak into hard to reach areas).
Gwent in The Witcher 3
Bluffing and deception are two very important skills in any game, and amidst the Machiavellian ultraviolence of the Witcher series, it’s not surprising that these are the central attributes of the third game’s engrossing mini game Gwent.
The game, centered around deck building a la Magic The Gathering, is very much a TCG in its own right – centered around playing card’s abilities off of each other masterfully and moving in for the kill at just the right time. In fact, the game’s popularity has resulted in its release as a free standalone app, so it’s now also one of the best virtual TCG’s on the market too.
Gwent is everything that a mini game should be – whilst it’s fast paced and fun, it’s also an excellent vehicle for raking in cash, and deep enough to sink a lot of time into. Just make sure you don’t bait yourself out by winning the first round.
Trophy Rush in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U’s Trophy Rush – a game where you basically hit falling boxes on a platform until a timer runs out and receive a random selection of trophies based on your performance – isn’t on this list because it’s the pinnacle of engaging game design. It was merely the first example from a AAA title that dishes out cosmetic collectibles at random which sprung to mind. Because whilst nabbing a sweet weapon via a somewhat skill-based aside might bring some relief to your future questing, it’s an inferior feeling to the adrenaline rush generated by an RNG system that dispenses loveable trinkets with absolutely no bearing on your play-through whatsoever.
Don’t think for a second that game companies aren’t well aware that a lot of players’ insatiable urge to collect things far eclipses their desire to experience some form of intriguing or satisfying gameplay either. It’s that reason alone why every franchise with highly marketable characters has a mobile gacha game that coerces you into investing your time and money just to nab the super-ultra-limited-edition-alternative-colour-swimsuit-with-kawaii-pose variant of your favourite character. Don’t start swindling your food budget, though – your ‘waifus’ are not an acceptable source of nourishment and they never will be.
With that taken into consideration, Trophy Rush does have one noteworthy asset tucked away within its trifling antics – it just requires in-game currency to play, meaning there’s no risk of you starving yourself to death in your plight to nab the polygonal goodness that is that Mecha-Fiora trophy from Xenoblade Chronicles. Best of luck and glory be to RNGesus.
Caberet Club Czar in Yakuza 0
One of the most enjoyable aspects of Yakuza 0 was running your own little side business, where you would run a cabaret club and assume position of manager. As manager, it is your duty to assist your staff members (hostesses) in welcoming and being hospitable to customers. You must make the right selection of hostess to suit the needs of your customer and action the correct request from the hostesses in a timely manner. Failure to do so can result in unsatisfied customers, affecting your reputation within the district.
Once your reputation within the area grows, you can be challenged to 1 v 1 fights against rival owners; as well as battles to see which club can make the most money on a given night.
There are side stories to be unlocked as you carry out and complete training for each of the recruited hostesses. Furthermore, each girl has their own unique set of strengths and weaknesses, and it is up to you to select the right attire for them in order to enhance their best qualities. This certain feature is what you’d probably find in a Kim Kardashian or Barbie type game, and it’s most definitely going to be problematic for an over 20 something year old man to be taking part in this, so be prepared to disappoint your parents.
Whilst June offered some fleeting moments of respite for those whose faith in humanity had been all but shredded to pieces, it still resulted in everybody who isn’t an austerity-loving prick sinking into despair as our beloved prime minister assumedly discovered the ‘infinite bells’ glitch from Animal Crossing and bought her way back into power. But hey, there were still bangers, so let’s end it on a high with some of those.
May is a shit month cuz our Prime Minister is called May and she’s an idiot, but there’s been some bangers this month so here they are. Continue reading “Monthly Bangers: May 2017”
The UTM writers pick a handful of the most lit and intriguing tracks from the past 30(ish) days.
Deem Spencer – iwyboft
In the age of rap where everything is lit, Deem Spencer sits in the shadows doing his own thing. It’s these types of artists that emerge without front or fakery, wholly idiosyncratic, that can really capture the imaginations of the xanny-gnashing outcast rap fans. Comparisons are being drawn to Earl Sweatshirt most likely due to the combination of an elegant flow and dejected delivery, but the similarity between the two is really how different they are to everyone else.
‘iwyboft’ is peppered with gentle thuds and shakes that Deem meanders over without pause, addressing the man of a girl he just slept with:
“She said that you be fucking like a beginner, she don’t no longer want you, she want me nigga, I got a lady so I can’t be seen with her, please take her back if you even wanna be with her.”
Looking at Deem (and judging from his other tracks, most notably ‘soap’) he seems like a cerebral kind of guy. How alluring and intriguing it is then, to hear such cognitive dissonance of the beat and him discarding one night stands with such contradictory machismo. He’s steering just clear of revealing who he really is, which makes the desire future full-length debut incredibly compelling.
Big Boi – ‘Kill Jill (ft. Killer Mike & Jeezy)’
‘Kill Jill’ is the noticeably more off-kilter choice of two singles that spearhead the launch of Big Boi‘s upcoming album Boomiverse, with the other being the groove-laden ‘Mic Jack’ featuring Maroon 5‘s sole distinguishable member Adam Levine. Whilst you’ll gleam nothing too conspicuous in the content of its verses, the track’s otherwise sparse production offers up one striking peculiarity – the unmistakeable tones of Hatsune Miku, the bright-eyed face of vocaloid music who appears via an eerie sample from a trance cut composed by EDM producer Aura Qualic.
How exactly is it that Big Boi stumbled upon the wonderful world of vocaloids? Did he fall into a Nico Nico Douga wormhole and spend countless hours listening to assorted Miku arrangements? Is he a closet Project DIVA prodigy? Does he own a handcrafted Miku cosplay? None of these assumptions are likely to be true, but they’re definitely way more fun to picture than whatever the reality might be.
With the welcome additions of long-time OutKast collaborator Killer Mike – who kickstarts his verse with a swagger-infused flow not dissimilar to the one that leads Childish Gambino‘s ‘WORLDSTAR’ – and the quite literally booming voice of trap veteran Jeezy alongside Miku’s spectral warbling, ‘Kill Jill’ carves out a remarkable niche amongst this year’s rap bangers. It might also go down in history as the catalyst for an entire movement of hip-hop domineered by our soon-to-be virtual idol overlords.
Cousin Stizz – Headlock (ft. Offset)
Everybody loves flutes and everybody love Migos, those are the two biggest takeaways from 2017 so far. So, by enlisting the help of the whimsical instrument and a hyped-up Offset, Cousin Stizz is only one repeatable hook away from a true banger, and he pulled it off.
Despite an audible skitter and boom, the instrumental is focused on its centrepiece, a sombre flute hypnotically drawing you in, with the duo tasked with keeping you entertained. Stizz delivers a rhythmic deadpan, blowing his cash on pasta and dropping in self-comparisons to Rick Ross, while Offset fleetingly hops into the track to add some ad-lib assisted adrenaline. At this point, nothing can dethrone the flute as the go-to banger building block.
Higher Brothers – Made in China
The 88rising poster boys are back with another banger, probably 100% backed by the government for its pro-Chinese overtones. ‘Made in China’ revels in the fact that all the best shit is made in China.
Scrying into MaSiWei’s verse, it becomes very apparent that Higher Brothers are proud that China is running shit. Gold chains and watches? Made in China. The greatest sport on Earth, ping pong? Chinese. Buying designer shit for your bitch? That’s prolly made in China too.
Similarly and rather prolifically, Higher Brothers are stealing the means of production to run shit in the rap game, having produced a string of absolute bangers. Consider ‘Made in China’ their Great Leap Forward.
Frank Ocean – Biking ft. Jay Z & Tyler, The Creator
Currently, the world needs healing with copious amounts of Frank Ocean. Thankfully, the formerly reclusive singer has been generous recently with new tracks, and ‘Biking’ is the inarguable standout.
Jay Z proves he really likes bikes by throwing out cycling references during a hazy intro. Frank is the heart of the track, as his delightful voice takes a pensive ride over gentle acoustic guitar and a warm synth drone. Tyler, the creator perfectly judges the mood with a cool calm as he stunts with wheelies (“one wheel, one wheel”) in a meditative verse. Finally, Frank closes the track by swearving off course with an uncharacteristic, but still restrained, shout.
Joji – I Don’t Wanna Waste My Time
Filthy Frank isn’t for everyone. He definitely isn’t popular at UTM, but the man behind the garbage persona is also a music producer, and a fucking good one at that.
Producing under the name Joji, George Miller presents a completely different side to himself. He had previously released ‘Medicine’, an introspective chop up of the lyrics from Daughter’s ‘Medicine’ to sound out “Don’t be what you want to” instead of the original “you can still be what you want.”
‘I Don’t Wanna Waste My Time’ has an equally anxious tone, but this time directed towards relationship troubles. The deflating chord progression lends to the grander sense of a man who wants to know what he wants, but is holding himself back.
As much as Filthy Frank and Pink Guy are abscesses on the arse of the internet, it’s doubtful that Joji would have gotten the exposure without having those alter egos – and perhaps they are the reason for such conflicted, anxious and beautiful songs.
P Money, & Pharoah – Like Dem Man ft. Hyde
With the winning trifecta of UK drill newcomer Pharoah’s xan’d out drawl, Novelist’s up and coming production and bars from P Money – ‘Like Dem Man’ is a banger on paper and in practice.
Showing just how far he’s come as a producer since his earliest dalliances as a member of the Square – Novelist’s slapping production job perfectly drill/road rap/grime synergy. But it’s The King, The Originator, P fucking Money who really shells down.
Supported by on point star wars references – and with an appearance silver grilled gully flow alter ego Hyde – P Money steals the show, shelling the entire track down with not one, but two flows. Fuck Skepta he’s deadout, in 2017 P Money is the king of grime.
Mez – Normal Shoe
Having put Nottingham on the map over the past twelve months with the attention-grabbing energy in his flow, and three EPs, Mez has returned in 2017 with ‘Normal Shoe’.
The production by Diamondz stands out immediately, crisp hit-hat and snare beats; a kick drum with punch and depth, then the offbeat cowbell that adds a cool samba tone along with a piano bassline that makes it a really lively instrumental. Mez has a unique, entertaining, bouncy flow and ‘Normal Shoe’ shows it at peak performance.
Mez’s mad style and lyrical content adds to the chilled IDGAF air he carries: “Come to the rave looking like Gold Medalist with Kurt Angle Boots on and I don’t wear no Louboutin/Only got normal shoes on.” Mez is smashing it.
GOOD INTENT – ‘DIAMOND’
2016 was a statement of – ahem – good intent for Good Intent. Following years of honing his craft and serving up remixes of Migos, Ariana Grande and Drake hits, the Washington-based producer released his first collection of originals under the moniker – the understated EP The Sada Project and ‘Some More’, a collaboration with Yung Shonen that name-checks the renowned producer tag of the infallible Metro Boomin and was certainly a radio smash in some parallel world if unjustly not this one.
This year’s initial offering from Good Intent comes in the form of ‘Diamond’, a self-curated infusion of mellowed R&B elements in a trap-flavoured punch. Comfortably asserting his presence as a vocalist – his performance striking up comparisons to Father and his patented brand of dreamy one half Red Bull, one half NyQuil flows – alongside demonstrating his versatility as a producer, the malleable essence of the track begs the question as to where he’ll be headed next. The likelihood that whichever path he takes will lead to success is pretty damn high, though.
At a time when grime is kind of everywhere, it might be easy to get behind man like Drake, who ultimately want to boil grime’s essence down to tracksuits, slang and road talk into an easy to quantify, identikit-roadman-based-commodity – but you shouldn’t. Throughout its history, the genre has been far more than an aggressive form of music made by aggressive people. Continue reading “Four Grime Cuts That Go A Little Deeper”
Monthly Bangers makes a comeback as the UTM writers pick a handful of the most lit and intriguing tracks from the past 30(ish) days. Continue reading “Monthly Bangers: March 2017”