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Case Number 19944: Small Claims Court

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Video Games Live: Level 2 (Blu-Ray)

Shout! Factory // 2010 // 210 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // October 19th, 2010

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All Rise...

Judge David Johnson loves kicking back and playing some Halo on his ukulele.

The Charge

Geek barometer rising…

The Case

Take some of the most recognizable and iconic video game themes ever composed, mix in a full-blown orchestra and a guy going crazy on an electric guitar, toss in a few druids and park all of this lunacy and bombast in front of an ecstatic crowd, and my friend you got yourself a stew. A delectable nerd stew.

Not that I'm pointing that out as a guy who doesn't enjoy a ladleful of nerd stew. Oh, I do. In fact, my biggest complaint about Video Games Live is that it isn't quite nerdy enough. For some reason, the greatest video game score of all time—Yuzo Koshiro's Streets of Rage 2 arrangement—wasn't included. Hogwash!

Regardless, there is still plenty of pixel-happy grist to chew on here, covering multiple generations, from the 8-bit and 16-bit nostalgia-fueled days to the polygon-laden, near-cinematic excursions of recent releases.

Here's the line-up:
• Mario
• Zelda
• Halo
• Warcraft
• Starcraft II
• Sonic the Hedgehog
• Guitar Hero
• Chrono Cross
• Myst
• Castlevania
• God of War
• Megaman
• Civilization IV
• Advent Rising
• Mass Effect

That's a diverse playlist to be sure, but some are more welcome than others. God of War and Halo are the most pre-disposed to big-ass orchestral arrangements and they are indeed as awesome as you would think (Halo kicks off the show and features the druids). Also awesome: the treatments of the old school endeavors like Mario, Zelda and, my favorite, Sonic the Hedgehog. Granted, it's a bit weird to hear these simple tunes on steroids and I certainly prefer them in their low-res glory, but how many times do you get to hear a full choir roar, "Say-Ga!!!"

There are a few entries that were too esoteric for my taste (though serious connoisseurs of video game music might differ)—Advent Rising? Chrono Cross? Civilization IV? At least we can all agree that the presence of Guitar Hero: Aerosmith was unwanted, right? And if you're going to throw down some Guitar Hero, the only correct option is DragonForce.

The presentation is high-quality, the 1080p, 1.78:1 transfer razor-sharp. It's the equivalent of any of those reference quality concert discs you find in the big box electronics store of your choice. There's plenty of hullabaloo happening on stage and the boosted clarity transmits it all nicely. The big draw is the sound of course and the DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio is up to the effort. It's a pounding, layered mix that effectively uses all the channels, and kicks in a thumping bass when called for. Extras: a commentary track, footage from game composer party in Japan (sounds fun), game trailers, interviews with composers and game designers, a making-of segment and featurettes on Tetris and Dragon's Lair.

The Verdict

Not Guilty. Do-do-do-da-do-do…doop.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 90

Perp Profile

Studio: Shout! Factory
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
Audio Formats:
• DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
• None
Running Time: 210 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Blu-ray
• Concerts and Musicals
• Performance

Distinguishing Marks

• Commentary
• Featurettes
• Interviews
• Game Trailers


• IMDb

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