Saturday, April 18, 2015


VGM FACE OFFs are one of the funnest things for me, because you get to compare and contrast different tracks, and decide which one you like better. This blog will be A LOT more than just FACE OFFs...but it will be one of the staple features.

A lot of people tend to automatically default to the "familiar" version, and it takes something utterly extraordinary to get them to break pattern. Though much, MUCH rarer, others will default to the "novel", and the version that's new to them has to really be much worse before they'll stick with the old standby. There's not a lot I can pride myself on, but here's one area where I can. I have found in the nearly two years of doing FACE OFFs, I've had a pretty neutral bias on familiarity and novelty. My "voting record", as it were, has also been at least closer to neutral between versions on a system I prefer vs on a system that I don't than my actual biases for the systems themselves.

Anyway, I don't say any of this to brag, I say that to say that when there are very few foregone conclusions, the contests are far more interesting, which only further impels me towards FACE OFFs. These FACE OFFs are something that I've been trying to only modest effect on Facebook (where Nerd Noise Radio got its start in January 2013 - and is still going) since NNRs inception. But I've found that the Facebook medium is, shall we say, less than ideal for them, and for the multi-part focus. Hence, the advent of the Nerd Noise Radio blog!

So, for Nerd Noise Radio, we'll have three distinct types of FACE OFF- TRACK OFF, VIBE OFF, and VERSION OFF (I am totally open to a better name for this last one). Here is a description of each type, and three examples of each:


This is the simplest, most straightforward kind. This is where it's the same game, the same melody, either done on different systems (ergo, different sound hardware), or on very rare occasions, different releases on the same system. The question posed by the TRACK OFF is simple: "Which version do you like better, and why?" The majority of FACE OFFs we will do on NNR will be of this TRACK OFF variety.

Here are a few examples:

Stage 3 Jackie Chan Action Kung Fu (Turbografx16) vs Stage 3 from Jackie Chan Action Kung Fu (NES)

Elec Man's Theme from Mega Man 1 (Genesis - via Wily Wars) vs Elec Man's Theme from Mega Man 1 (NES)

Stage 3 from 1943 Kai Kaisen (Arcade) vs Stage 3 from 1943 Kai Kaisen (Turbografx16)


This is one where two (or more) completely different tracks (usually from different games) are contrasted because either the melody is incredibly similar, or the "vibe, and feel" are. This kind will be more rare, and is more difficult, because it's my subjectivity saying these tracks are kindred, perhaps vs your subjectivity saying they're not. Therefore, when doing a VIBE OFF, in addition to the questions "Which one do you like better, and why?" there are also the questions "Which one do you think pulls off the vibe better?" and most difficult of all "Do you feel like this is a valid VIBE OFF in the first place?

I mean, taking the title screen to Final Fantasy IV and comparing it to the title screen of Thunder Force IV is going to yield an invalid VIBE OFF....but what about the battle theme to Black Belt and Wily's Theme 1 from Mega Man 2? Or Blue Blue Moon from Super Adventure Island vs Dilapidated Town from Streets of Rage? Or what about BGM2 from Arnold Palmer's Tournament Golf vs the Check Mii Out parade music?

These are harder to answer...but I'm going to let you, as I'm sharing all three sets (in the stated order). So again, "Which one do you like better, and why?" "Which do you think does better with the vibe?" and "Do you feel these are valid or invalid VIBE OFFs?"

Wily's Castle 1 from Mega Man 2 (NES) vs Boss Theme from Black Belt (Mastersystem)

Blue Blue Moon from Super Adventure Island (SNES) vs Dilapidated Town from Streets of Rage (Genesis)

BGM 2 from Arnold Palmer Tournament Golf (Genesis) vs Parade from Check Mii Out Channel (Wii)


This is where you have two completely different pieces of music, generally with completely different vibes...but both belong to different versions of the same game. This will be the rarest type of all, most likely. But with a lot of Japanese games getting completely redone soundtracks when going to European gaming computer platforms, there are quite a few examples.

The questions for this kind are again "Which one do you like better, and why?", but also "which one do you think fits the game best?" If you're unfamiliar with the game, you may need to do a little YouTubing of game play videos, but it's still not hard to come to a conclusion.

Here are a few examples of "VERSION OFF" FACE OFFS (again, I'm totally open to a better name for these.)

Ancient Temple from Wolfchild (Genesis) vs Ancient Temple from Wolfchild (Super NES) - context is an old, crumbly, bug filled temple

Stage 1 from Ghouls and Ghosts (Arcade) vs Stage 1 from Ghouls and Ghosts (Amiga) - context is a graveyard during a thunderstorm with all sorts of undead baddies coming out of the ground after you, as well as large birds, killer plants, guillotines, and weather hazards

Collision Chaos Zone Present Theme from the Japanese/European versions of Sonic CD (Mega CD) vs Collision Chaos Zone Present Theme from the US (Sega CD) / PC (Windows 95) versions of Sonic CD - context is you're playing a Pinball world.

Like I said, FACE OFFs won't be all there is to the Nerd Noise Blog. I actually have all sorts of ideas for what I want to do on it...but they will be fairly regular - though I will usually just keep it to one FACE OFF per blog post. I definitely covet your feedback on which versions you like better when I do post them. I'll normally include my verdict in the blog, but I'm making an exception this time since there are so many. Maybe I'll share my verdict in the comments.

p.s. Why do I all-cap every time I say FACE OFF? It's just something we did in the very beginning. It  was meant to invoke the "SKITCHIN" shout from the game of the same name. Anyway, it's just stuck. It's the same with GEEKSPEAK.

1 comment:

  1. Okay, so sometimes you find things out the hard way. :-)

    I had said in the blog post that I would probably put my verdicts for each of these contests here in the comments section? Well, it turns out there's a character limit on these comments. I apparently blew WAAAAAAAAAY past it.

    So instead, I've turned my feedback into a new series that will run from today officially (tomorrow in practice) through a week from today treating each of these FACE OFFs individually, and with some degree of depth.

    Here's the link to part 1 - the only part without a FACE OFF: