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Video Games Live 2006

The feverish shouting and incessant babbling hushed down synchronously with the dimming lights until darkness bathed the theatre. Only the softly glowing screen up at the very front and muted spotlights kept the stage in sharp relief. The conductor, Jake Wall, leapt onto the platform and offered a flourishing bow to the audience. He lightly tapped the holder for the sheets with his baton and all the musicians assumed their positions born of relentless practice and rehearsal. Every pair of eyes, performers and audience alike, followed the tip of the baton as it gracefully rose into the air. The screen faded and bold white lines appeared; it was image instantly recognisable by those present. A furious game of Pong was being played as the orchestra performed a series of blips and bleeps in harmony with the video. This was not going to be your average classical music concert…

Welcome to Video Games Live 2006 in London!

The crowd couldn't help but titter as the performers turned a simple game of Pong into a musical medley; the minimal sounds became much more than the creators had ever intended. Suddenly the music change tempo again a distinct Russian influence permeated through: it was Tetris! As the falling bricks came crashing down faster, the tune grew more frantic. It was then, holding onto the theme of freneticism, that the images shifted to yet another classic. Space Invaders had transformed from an arcade game into an important piece in the history of music at that point! As the music became more frenzied, other classic arcade games came into focus. There was Ghosts 'n' Goblins of NES fame, followed by the Disney-esque Dragon's Lair and similarly animated Space Ace, Donkey Kong, Frogger, Gauntlet and finally Outrun… each accompanied with a composition that was far more grandiose than their humble origins. Like the early beginnings of gaming itself, this was but an appetiser teasing us of greater and more majestic events to follow.

Veteran composer and master of ceremonies, Tommy Tallarico bounced up to the stage to deliver a short yet passionate introduction to Video Games Live. Is gaming just for kids? Hell no! It is for the geeks and nerds? Overwhelming affirmative shouts from the audience…

Without further ado, he introduced one of the greatest game developers around Hideo Kojima. Despite being absent, Kojima-san offered his apologies and an invitation to enjoy ourselves via video… and it began! Moving on from the simplistic compositions a few minutes back, a stirring, nostalgic melody resonated throughout the theatre as images of Solid Snake appeared on screen. The famous MGS theme grew in timbre as the audience was treated to a video timeline of Snake from the original Metal Gear Solid game to the upcoming MGS 4. Being an ardent MGS fan, this was quite an amazing moment and particularly so when Tommy sneaked on stage in the infamous MGS Box and was followed around by a guard replete with an exclamation mark above his head!

After a short introduction from French auteur Michael Ancel, the screen exploded into colour as scenes of Beyond Good & Evil played in rapid succession accompanied by a very grand and intoxicating orchestration that teased of a work of art with more depth and subtlety than meets the eye.

There was also an extraordinary piece to honour none other than the legendary Lara Craft, Tomb Raider. The notes slowly ascended, offering grand allusions of adventure and discovery (that being the point here…) while the video footage showed Lady Croft giving Indy run for his money. I only started playing Tomb Raider recently so I can't say I found this particularly nostalgic seeing that it was trying to evoke such (although, my friend would have loved it!) but that didn't stop it from being damn good!

This concert was about the high points in videogaming history and therefore, it was appropriate to introduce the one and only Legend of Zelda at this point! Immediately rising to the grand theme of the series, there was yet again a montage chronicling the journey through time for Link. Like with MGS, hearing a well-known theme on such a magnificent scale was quite the experience!

More classics were obviously to follow and the next game in question is obviously as classic and timeless as it will ever, ever get. That's right… Mario! While the original theme is quite repetitive it's also deliciously addictive and wonderfully playful. Taking it up to the big stage there were subtle permutations that turned the flippant Mario theme into something more majestic. Like the game itself, the montage of Mario games past and present just drew you in and held you.

Before the intermission, we were treated to a composition that once heard you'll never forget: One-Winged Angel from Final Fantasy VII. While there wasn't any video for this one, it was magnificently performed. The deep Latin choruses and sombre cello chords were a fantastic combination which goes to show what an incredible track this one was to begin with.

The final gaming classic portrayed here was the Sonic the Hedgehog series. The upbeat, brisk Sonic theme was performed with a few bells and whistles added to it. Once again, there was a tableau of videos looking through the ages of Sonic from the early days to the most recent title.

The best composition in my opinion was that for Kingdom Hearts. This was the only one not to use game footage instead it dived right into the source of its inspiration and did something unforgettable. Accompanied by an outstanding and inspiring orchestration of the main theme, the videos showed some of the most memorable moments from Disney history! The scenes and the music segued together beautifully to create a truly magical experience!

Since MGS began the main portion of the event, it was only appropriate that a game of Halo's calibre end it! The choir began slowly as the Pillar of Autumn drifted slowly across the screen. Hints of the instrumental theme were slowly heard and then as the camera panned around and found Master Chief, the beginning of the end commenced with the drums and heavier instruments joining in to augment a fantastic theme. As the piece ended with the destruction of the first Halo, Tommy Tallarico rushed on stage to present surprise, surprise Halo 3. The crowd went ballistic as newly reworked version of the Halo theme reverberated throughout the amphitheatre and ended with the ominous words Finish the fight… 2007 a sentiment shared by the equally anticipated MGS4.

Surprisingly the true highlight of the night was an impromptu live performance from Martin Leung known on YouTube as the 'Video Game Pianist'. He performed beautiful renditions of ten FF pieces with am incredible version of One-Winged Angel in particular. However, when he started with the Mario theme the crowd went ballistic. He performed with a dexterity, speed and passion like no other and clapping in beat with his version of it was certainly a fantastic experience. He certainly got a rousing send-off replete with a standing ovation!

At the end, it made me realise what made this entire event so special were the memories of playing many of these games with others and I wish everyone I knew was there to enjoy this fantastic event.

This is dedicated to all my friends back in Bangladesh, my brother Faiyaz and Arif Dulabhai and all 'deshi gamers!

By Le Chupacabra

Acid Survivors Foundation

The subject Chemistry has taught me a lot of valuable and amazing facts. Like what does acid do to the skin to give one the sensation of a burn! The acid takes water away from any substance it is in contact with. So acid, especially the concentrated one when in contact with the skin quickly takes away all the water from the cells and makes the skin contract and turn blackish. The contraction of the skin is so powerful that it literally tears itself away from the surrounding skin leaving the flesh bare.

The purpose of going scientific about this is just to let you all know about it AND so that it can serve as an intro to what I am about to tell you guys. We all know about 'Acid Violence' in our country. The stats show an alarming number of over 300 acid attacks (Recorded by the ASF) every year. Many of these incidents actually happen because of ignorance. But the evil nature of Humans is another reason that we cannot overlook. The organization that has been helping these acid attack victims since 1999 is the Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF). Most of you have heard about the 'Project D Youth' competition organized by 'Djuice' and 'Project Bangladesh'. I am a participant of this project and my team name is Goblin Corp. We are trying to help the ASF by raising money for them. Please try to donate to us. It would not have to be money but you can also donate old books, clothes or anything that you might not use anymore. Spread the word in your school, colleges and if possible raise money yourselves and just mail me to collect it from you or donate those straight to the ASF. Their address is H: 12, R: 22, Block: K, Banani, Dhaka. Phone: 9880142. Visit: www.acidsurvivors.org . We will also try to sell some goodies at some selected outlets. Email me at gottahelpbd@gmail.com. Let us put our hands together and be a little more caring.

By Hitoishi Chakma


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2006 The Daily Star