Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Video Games Live - Oh, What A Night....

Last week, I went to one of the most amazing events I've ever experienced: Video Games Live. Some friends and co-workers told me that it was a great time and I was going to love it, but I had no idea how much fun it was going to be. I have to say that anyone who recommended VGL to me in the past was 100% correct!! I went with two friends of mine who had NO CLUE what they were in for. Both were video game fans, and both of them absolutely LOVED it. (They even took video clips which they STILL won't upload so I can see!!) So, it's not just me going off on some tangent. Normal every day folks love VGL just as much as I do. And the age range of the appeal was amazing, I saw people ranging in age from 3 to 83. One family brought their youngest in a Link costume from Legend of Zelda for the costume contest! (My guess: They were going for the Wind Waker Link.)  Of course, they won. Who's going to vote against a mini-Link?

For those of you who don't know what Video Games Live is, let me explain. At it's core, VGL is a concert. Yes, there is usually a bit of a "festival" in the hours leading up to the concert where people can play games and enter in contests, and stuff, but the point is the concert. Anyway, the producers of the show get local orchestras to play out the themes of popular video games, and display scenes from the games in accompaniment. But the show doesn't end there. They also add a live show on stage that interacts with both the scenes playing out on screen and with the music. It's a mind blowing experience to hear a full orchestra play out pieces of music that you've only come out of tv speakers coming from a video game console.

The best part is this concert isn't partisan to any specific console. VGL gave props to games all across the board like the Metal Gear Solid series (but no Snake Eaters, dammit!!), Sonic The Hedgehog, Chrono Trigger, Castlevania, Legend of Zelda, the God of War series, Resident Evil, Halo, Street Fighter 2, Final Fantasy, Super Mario, and others. They even went back to the real classics of video games: Frogger, Centipede, Asteroids, and Pac-Man all got their props.

The most surprising segment for me was for God of War. It was done so well, they started it with an intro from one of the producers of the game and then went into the intro for one of the games with that creepy old woman narrating the events of Kratos's current life. Then the orchestra came in and just swept me away in this grandiose wave of sound that was simply thrilling. In fact, I was so caught up in the music that I didn't notice a woman come on stage (despite the spotlight on her) until she started singing. That woman (by the name of Laura Intravia, look her up. Seriously, do it!) knocked me for a loop. I've never heard someone sing with that level of strength and power live. And it was for God of War! Stunning! Absolutely stunning!!!

Ms. Intravia did a couple of other bits where she showed off her flute playing talents with the themes of Legend of Zelda (and she looked SO HOTT in the Link costume! Never realized how sexy that outfit would be on a girl!) and Super Mario Bros. I did have one nitpick about the Super Mario Bros bit, though. While her flute skills were amazing, I didn't think they should have used a recording for the background music. They did have a full orchestra on stage with her... so why not USE IT? But that's just a minor detail.

My personal favorite segment was, without a doubt, Tron. Hearing an orchestra play the various themes from the game (and the movie, since the games borrowed heavily from the movie's score) literally gave me chills. So much so, that I had goosebumps all up and down my arms. It made me want to watch the new movie even MORE!! It was also amazing to see and hear the reaction the audience had to Tron. It was one of the biggest cheers of the night.

They also had a special guest, the inventor of the home video game console, Ralph Baer. This is the man that parents everywhere can blame for having to spend hundreds of dollars on video game systems every couple of years. It was cool to learn some of the early history of video games (like he invented his Brown Box System here in Nashua!!), it gave the perfect sense of scope. Especially when they set up a replica of Baer's original Brown Box and played the ORIGINAL pong. With the orchestra adding music to it for the first time! To go from that to the music of World of Warcraft really emphasized how far video games have come in the last 40 or so years.

If you ever get the chance to go to Video Games Live, you should. Even if you're not a video game fanatic (but really, who ISN'T these days?) you'll love the vibe and energy of the event. I wholeheartedly recommend it, and I'm a hermit-of-sorts!! You can see a bunch of clips of their various shows on YouTube, but they don't compare at all to being there live. I can't wait for them to come back around here, so I can go again! Seriously, do yourself a favor and check it out!


  1. Wow, sounds like it was way better than I would have expected. I thought it would be just Mario Bros and Zelda music. Now I really, really want to hear their version of the God of War music. I play those soundtracks all the way through at least once a month.

  2. It's best if you go to one of their shows, but you can find clips on YouTube for some of their performances.