Category: Non-Video Games Related


In my recent pick-up video, I had mentioned I found this unusual soundtrack: Music from the Xbox Video Game NHL Rivals 2004. Before I get into it any further, I should explain this soundtrack’s existence. Let’s go back a decade, as we talk about Microsoft’s failed attempt at a Sports game brand called “XSN Sports.”

Back in the day, Microsoft tried to make their own Sports franchise against EA and Sega. (This was before Take-Two bought Visual Concepts from Sega.) In 2003, they introduced XSN Sports as their flagship sports game brand. Under this banner, Microsoft’s sport-focused games featured tournaments and leagues that players could make in-game to share on the respective website. The games included NFL Fever 2004, Links 2004, and Rallisport Challenge 2. Alas, they couldn’t make a dent in the competition, and the XSN Sports brand was folded one year later. The XSN service was later shut down in 2006, presumably to shift focus onto the then-new Xbox 360.

As a promotional tie-in, they released the first in the “XSN Sports Soundtrack CD Series,” featuring various songs that come from the game’s soundtrack. However, despite saying “Volume 1” on the cover, there was never a Volume 2, which is funny in retrospect.

The soundtrack CD also comes with a bonus DVD, featuring some NHL highlights from the 2002-03 NHL season, some Wayne Gretsky promos, and DVD-ROM features of the game’s cinematics, trailers, and some wallpaper. Not much to say about all this, it’s a hockey game after all. My experience with hockey games begin and end at Blades of Steel.

Licensed soundtracks are hardly new, sports games have been doing this for a long time. Hell, bands used to be hyped for having a song in the new Madden game. What makes this special is the song selection, which seems unusual for a hockey game. Then again, I don’t watch hockey, so maybe this fits in some weird way. Let’s go track-by-track, shall we?

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I remember when I got a second hand Sega CD off a classmate back in freshman year of High School. I was bored in a class and was looking at Sega CDs on eBay, and my friend offered his for $15. It came with the pack-in title Tomcat Alley as well as the abysmal Double Switch, which was a Night Trap-esque game by Digital Pictures starring the late Corey Haim, Blondie’s Deborah Harry, and R. Lee Ermey. It honestly isn’t that great, and can be beaten easily in an hour. Trust me, go watch this longplay of the game instead, it’s better than wasting money on this tripe.

I wonder if Corey Haim was on drugs when he signed up to do this. Hell, everyone involved had to be on drugs if they thought this was a good idea!

While I was perusing for some other Sega CD games when I had stumbled upon this little gem: Rock Paintings, a CD+G sampler featuring a multitude of Warner Records artists — Chris Isaak, Fleetwood Mac, Jimi Hendrix, Information Society and Little Feat. While it’s advertised as a Sega CD product, any console that supports CD+G — from the Philips CD-i to Sega’s successor CD console the Saturn — can run this. Hell, if you got a karaoke machine lying around, it’ll probably play this disc too.

I originally thought this was just a silly little CD compilation, but it’s so much more.

Oh good, I can learn things while listening to music. Thanks, Information Society!

CD+G is a short-lived media format used to show graphics on your television while listening to music CDs. The concept was that you’d hook up a CD+G enabled device into your television set, insert any supported CD+G disc, then listen to the music with video playing in the background. The only music company that bothered to care about the technology was Warner Records, as a gamut of their offerings from 1989-1992 feature the CD+G tech. The Rock Paintings sampler features two tracks from each artist above, with embedded CD+G tracks for each, plus a blank track for disc information. They looked like tacky screensavers for the most part, except the Information Society portion being somewhat informative and goofy (as seen above), and Hendrix’s Smash Hits, which is amazing in itself:

Not pictured: The flashing colors that played during this Hendrix montage. Great for stoners, bad for epileptics.

Alas, the CD+G died a short death but still has this remnant to live on. Warner Records did multiple CD+G sampler compilations, even one for the CD-i, so they thought this was worth a try even if many people didn’t get to use it as intended and looking tacky even by early 90s standards. Rock Paintings also came with a second, non-CD+G disc titled Hot Hits, which featured a sampling of other artists on the Warner label. Most of them are a bunch of unknowns — The Wolfgang Press, Saigon Kick, Throwing Muses — while the rest are artists with minor hits but bizarre track choices. For example, They Might Be Giants is featured on the compilation, but they used a song from Apollo 18 called “Mammal.” Of all the songs from that album they could’ve chose, they chose the worst track of the bunch. (I guess executives wouldn’t have approved of a compilation having a song titled “The Statue Got Me High.”)

While doing my 15 minutes of research, I found out there is actually a site dedicated to chronicling all the CD+G media ever released. It’s called The CD+G Museum, and it’s worth a look into the weird history that was CD+G technology. Now I wanna find those CD+G versions of classic Beethoven and Holst music, as well as Smash Hits so I can Experience Hendrix the way it was meant to be experienced: on a Sega CD in mono audio.

When I started doing this blog, I wanted to specifically cover goofy stuff about video games. But today we’re breaking the chain. We’re going rogue, and not in a political sense. Oh, we’ll still be talking about games, board games to be exact. Well, the closest thing to a board game, anyway.

Remember Trivial Pursuit? Yeah, that board game where you’re given ridiculously hard trivia questions about history stuff and maybe a question or two on something you actually know? Considered a game of strong intellect, it’s been degenerated to having at least 5-6 special editions each year dedicated to various TV shows and movies. I can totally understand making one on Saturday Night Live, but is there seriously enough content to make a Rolling Stones Trivial Pursuit? (I wonder how many questions mention their heavy drug and sex habits)

Back in the 80s, before Hasbro acquired Trivial Pursuit and thought it was a good idea to make one based off Lord of the Rings and Nickelodeon shows, there weren’t as many spinoffs of the game. Most of them were based off subject matter like the 20s, movies, Disney, and even several kids editions. You might have seen these and many others at your local thrift store, as Trivial Pursuit seems to be a common thrift store dumping ground, next to other board games like bad licensed TV show games and that one incomplete copy of 1970s-era Monopoly with mysterious stains on it. But what I saw was something I hadn’t seen before, and I couldn’t resist snatching it up.

This is the Trivial Pursuit “Pocket Player Set”: Boob Tube edition. It’s a travel version of Trivial Pursuit. This makes about as much sense as making a travel version of Hungry Hungry Hippos. I believe this is the only attempt by Selchow & Righter — the original Trivial Pursuit rights holders — to actually make a travel version, because I had never seen anything like this before or since.

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