Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Write Club -- Keep Writing!

Hey y'all. It's been a while since I've done one of these posts.

Okay, so I just wanted to go over something about writing. One of the hardest parts of keeping up with it (as you can see by my meager posting of the Hero of the Month segment) is that you just have to keep on writing. It's not a habit that always comes to you easily. The worst thing ever is sitting in front of a blank computer screen or page and wondering what the heck you're doing. There seems to be some sort of myth going around that writers are able to look at that blank page, press on through, and just write.

See, this is exactly what doesn't happen, and I think the myth trips up a lot of writers. It's like comedians. You always expect those guys to just think "okay, I have to write a comedy routine now" and then just sit down and do it. Nope. They have to have a goal in mind, a subject they want to go on about. It's exactly the same about writers. We never make something out of nothing.

So how in the world do we write? We have to be inspired. You'll be walking somewhere or you'll be washing dishes or staring at an awesome picture (maybe even a special word), and you'll just have a "DING DING DING!!" go off in your head in the form of inspiration or story. Sometimes this inspiration is only a little, and sometimes it's enough to actually start writing something with. In any case, the hard part is definitely sitting at your computer and typing up something out of your raw inspiration.

I've learned a lot through my years of fanfiction and poetry, so here's a few tips for young'uns to learn.

1. Write quickly after inspiration hits.

Not only do you not want to forget your inspiration, you also need to remember how much passion you felt for it. If you remember the idea but have stopped caring, it's going to be very hard to write on it. Maybe you have an idea for a story but really have more background than actual plot in your head. That's okay, write it down too. That way you can follow the next tip.

2. Reread what you write constantly.

While writing my Mega Man fanfiction, one of the things I more or less inadvertantly ended up doing was rereading my story. I started off on Okkusenman, a story where Bass gets out from under the thumb of Wily, and I found myself enjoying the story so much (doesn't it feel sometimes like someone else wrote your work?) that I just wanted to read it again and again. That proved a great way to maintain my passion for this story series, especially now that I'm on the fifth and last story of my Mega Man fanfiction. It reminds me of how much I wanted to write this story in the first place.

Not only that, but it helps me remember what directions I took in my first story. Sometimes in my later stories I'd wonder what to do next or what to give a character to make them more interesting, and then I'd look back at my writing and get inspired to do something or remember an old character trait that I need to show off again. It's a great way to find errors in your work or odd points that you can exploit and pretend was planned from the beginning.

So heck, reread your stories and even your notes about your works. It helps your brain get into the proper mode for your story so that when you think of your works, it will only be a natural extension of what you have already written rather than mismatched and sort of random plot additions or changes. *COUGH*R.A.Salvatore*COUGH*.

3. Love your characters and story.

One of the mistakes you can make is just get bored with what you're doing and just stop. Or maybe you carry on, but because you have lost your love for a person or even a plotline you just kind of go on with it for the sake of money or reviews or whatever. Just so you know, if you're bored by something, chances are your readers will be.

So if at any moment you feel bored, there are a few things you can do. You can stop working on that plotline and find some outside characters to write about. You can focus on that character and think about how they feel or how they got to a situation. Maybe go out and take a walk, or do the dishes (it's surprising how much work inspires my writing).

Maybe you could go listen to music that inspires you. This song Into Being from Paul Oakenfold's Another World (yeah, sometimes I listen to Oakenfold, sue me) really inspired me to write about Kerrigan from Starcraft. There are certain videos on youtube that make me want to write about the Mega Man universe, including fan-made music videos and let's plays of the games.

Really, at the end of the day you just have to remember that your characters are people. Notedly, so is your audience. Your audience wants to identify with the people from the story and be able to live your story through them. Write the story as if it's someone's life, and learn to describe things in a way that makes your readers think that even if it's only in some far off, fantasy alternate dimension, your story really could have happened.

4. Write incomplete ideas.

Yeah, basically don't forget the things that you don't know what to do with. Like maybe you're staring at a few inspirational words or ideas and you have a clue where to go, but you're not sure yet. Just write it down and wait. Sooner or later you'll get more ideas, or maybe you'll figure out how to attach that idea to one of your current stories. There will be times when particular inspiration won't be useful ever, but the more you think and the more ideas constantly pop into your head, then the better you'll be.

5. Have a vision and aim for it.

Oftentimes you'll have a key idea or image you're trying to express in a story or story series. This is the most important part of writing. Maybe your vision is to create a vast world with interesting creatures. Maybe you want to talk about a certain theme or emotion, how you feel on a particular topic. Or maybe you just want to fill your audience with a specific emotion, sharing your past or a specific hurt or glory in your life.

Let me emphasize this. If you have no vision, your story will suck. Period. This is the ironclad rule of all storytelling. For example, look at these movies that came out lately after you pretty much thought their series was over: Rocky, Rambo, Indiana Jones, Die Hard, etc. Rocky and Rambo had the advantage that Stallone seems to understand that you need a vision. Rocky Balboa was about not letting anyone tell you that you can't do something. Rambo was about the Karen rebels of Burma with the additional set of themes that show the perspectives of how different people feel about going into dangerous situations: some want to go without guns and show peace, others just want to stay away, still others believe that it's fine to let people trapped in terrible countries just rot, and finally there are those who will go in and fight.

Indiana Jones 4? All about the money and universally derided. Die Hard 4 actually tried to have a theme, one that basically says it sucks to be a hero, but this is a major failing because none of the other movies in the series have that theme, and it looks tacky and not a natural extension of the trilogy before it. Also they have a sucky villain, but that's a different topic. I mean, in the first movie Hans Gruber was hardcore. This guy in the fourth? Some idiot that you feel like you can just walk up to and slap in the face without consequence.

Better get back on topic...

For my story series on Mega Man, the idea which keeps me inspired is my objection to Keiji Inafune and the direction he took Mega Man in. I disagree with how dark the X series, the Zero series, and the ZX series ended up being. They tried to make Mega Man Legends more happy, but that game feels like it could be its own universe; it didn't really need to be a Mega Man game. Honestly, I feel like they sort of betrayed Mega Man Classic. Pretty much every game in the X and Zero series (I haven't yet seen playthroughs of ZX, I just know it's dark) makes the world worse off after the heroes save the day, and honestly that sucks. It's like saying that nothing you do in the end matters. So that's my motivation in what I wrote.

So anyway, the real key to writing is this: To write! You'll only get better if you write and read, making yourself more kin to the written word. Don't sit there in front of a blank page and wonder what you're going to do. Take the things running around your heart and mind and put them on paper! Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go eat food!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Mega Man Music --- MM6

Hey y'all.  Okay, so right away during these reviews I have to admit that I have only played the games 1-5 as a kid.  It is my desire to be fair, and to judge these according to their merits, not according to nostalgia.  So yeah, number 6 is the first of those that I didn't play.  Though, to be fair, its first release was only in Japan.  I'm really glad it came over here to America eventually, but to me it's the real beginning of Mega Man Classic's troubled period.

Let me explain.  MMs 1-3 were all weird, because Capcom had to figure out how to make the series work.  In MM4, they figured it out.  They surfed a wave of uncertainty and had a great ride.  MM5 came around, and Capcom figured out quickly that they were going to need to configure the series to not only have a good pattern, but to also be adjustable enough to be fun every time.

This wave wasn't as great a surf, but I don't blame Capcom.  MM6 was a rushed NES production which I assume was done for two reasons.  The first is obviously money, as Mega Man is a great series and they could cash in for other endeavors on the Super Nintendo.  The second was to figure out how to adjust their set formula to make the gameplay more interesting.  As much as I love MM5, the gameplay problems during the castle levels (ie the lack of challenge) made it clear that some changes needed to be made if Mega Man Classic was going to survive.

Hence MM6.  They tried some new things and definitely tried harder on the robot master designs, but in the end the rushed nature of the game made it suffer a lot of the problems of MM5.  Actually, people have said that Mega Man 6 is the easiest of the classic games.  There are several reasons for this, mainly in the very strict robot master patterns.  This to me is a huge no-no, because the reason why some of the earlier robot masters are so delightfully hard is because they have an edge of randomness and you have to figure out how to force them into their pattern.  With these guys, it's basically just watch them repeat themselves and dodge/attack accordingly.  Lame.  Especially when you throw in robot master weaknesses.

Let me actually talk good about the robot masters.  The thing that makes MM6 stand out from the others is its robot masters.  By the time this set was designed, their creator was already working on several things for the Super Nintendo, so they came out way more detailed than the NES could really handle well.  As a result, all the robot masters are very distinctive, and this is very cool.

However, at least in my opinion that's the only thing that's really distinctive about the game.  The first time I watched a playthrough of this game, I couldn't remember a thing about it other than some of the robot masters.  I knew it involved shortcuts and two power upgrades, and that's it.  I honestly had to watch it again to just remember anything about it.  Not much about this game makes a lasting impression compared to all the others in the series.

You might just say that I feel that way because I didn't play the game as a kid. That doesn't have anything to do with it.  Honestly, I remembered plenty about 7-10 after watching playthroughs.  MM6 tries, but it just doesn't really get outside of mediocre a lot of the time as far as gameplay goes.  The bosses are too boring, the enemies during the levels aren't as much of a challenge, and the two new powers don't really work out as well as they could because the game wasn't designed enough around them.

Let's talk about those.  Okay, so there's the jet adaptor and the power adaptor for Mega Man, and these as concepts are actually very interesting.  Rush isn't Rush jet in this game.  Instead he merges with Mega Man to become jet Mega Man or Power Mega Man.  The jet adaptor allows you to fly around for a short amount of time before you have to land.  However, once you do land, your little meter goes back up and you can fly some more.  The power adaptor lets you have a great punching ability to break blocks or deal good damage.

Honestly, these things could have been really great if the game was actually designed better for them.  The jet adaptor ends up more or less being a cheat because it's so handy, and the power adaptor has of course short range.  Actually, people probably would have loved the power adaptor if it showed bad guys bouncing off your fists as you punched them.  That would be hilarious.

Oh yeah, Beat is available.  You unlock him by fighting four of the robot masters, except these four have two different boss rooms and you have to choose the right one.  Beat, like in MM5, deals damage to enemy robots.  It's not as useful to have Beat in this game, as no boss is weak to it.  It's fun to find the pieces though. I thought that was a good idea for gameplay.  A bad idea for gameplay was to have it so there are shortcuts during the boss castle stages that enabled you to avoid most of the trouble of that castle level.  That's just a cheat right there.

I'm not going to say that the game isn't worth playing.  It's cool.  Oh yeah, maybe I should talk about the plot. Okay, up till this point the classic series has always been mildly serious, at least in the sense that Capcom never made the story cheesy on purpose.  It actually tries in several places to be very serious, like the ending themes of MM2 and 4.  If it was cheesy, it was only because the NES 8 bit format is hard to convey serious themes in.  MM6 involves a bit of deliberate cheesiness, specifically that the bad guy is obviously Wily in a costume.

So the story goes that Mr. X (Wily) is running a robot contest to see who the most powerful robot is, but then he steals the robots and uses them to try and take over the world.  Yeah.  Cheese.  I'll get to more of why this is a problem in my MM7 review, where it is more applicable.  MM6 isn't too cheesy by comparison.  Actually that plot point is really the only problem.  Up till this Capcom went more or less seriously with its work, and I'm disappointed that it felt it had to go more silly past this point.

Bah, this is supposed to be about music, no?  Let's get to it.  Overall I find MM6's soundtrack lacking.  Don't get me wrong, it's got good tracks here and there, but it just feels too mediocre.  There's no Crash Man-like or Star Man-like track that just sounds weird and out there.  Most of the robot master themes don't feel as distinctive or memorable as the general fare of the first five games went.  It felt like either they tried too hard or didn't try enough.  My guess is the first one, as there are some hits in here.

Now remember, I judge the music by what I think is quality, not by my personal favorites.  Also, I made sure to listen to this soundtrack a lot to give it a real chance and not just malign it.  I want these to be as honest as possible, and I'm not picking on this game.  I intend to be honest with all of these, not just put random ratings. I've listened to it over and over again these past weeks.  That being said, I think I can honestly tell you that MM6's music is a step down.  More than anything a lot of the robot master themes seem to blur with one another, sounding thematically alike.  As distinctive as the robot masters' designs are, their songs are just kinda there without really matching the robot master as well as it needed to.

The intro music is good.  It does remind me of a robot master contest.  It's cool.  Not epic like some, but it's a good time.  It leads pretty well into the title screen music, which I personally think is pretty nice.  Good stuff.

I don't like the password screen music that much.  It's okay, but it's just kind of there.  It's not really remarkable.  The stage select screen steps it up with music, and it's very enjoyable.  Ready to fight!

#8 What where they thinking?  Wind Man's theme sounds more like end credits music than a robot master theme.  Were they trying to make this music sound all sad and melodramatic because they knew it was going to be the last game for the NES?  It's a pretty good song, but it really fails to be what it needs to be: Wind Man's.

#7 Yeah...I'm not sure what happened to Tomahawk Man's theme.  It just doesn't stand out that well.  This is one of those themes I had a really hard time placing to the robot master.  I find the main layer of this song to just kinda be there.  Honestly though, it's a pretty good song on its own.  It doesn't really strike the fancy, but it's okay.

#6 I like Blizzard Man's theme alright.  I'm not sure how much it conveys snow and ice, but it's alright.  It's peppy and fun.  Cute, even.

#5 Yamato Man's theme is kinda cool.  It's one of the themes in the mix that really could have stood to be more distinctive, but I enjoy it.  It feels like a Mega Man song.  I wish it could have been more creative, especially for a robot master that's said to originate in the same country as the makers of this game.  Whatever, it's fun.

#4 Knight Man's is more of a fan favorite in this game, and I see why.  I like it pretty good.  As it goes on it actually gets fairly interesting.  Good rollicking theme.

#3 Plant Man's theme is one of those themes that I constantly mix up with several others.  However, it's more of a cut above as it actually does convey some sense of flowers and wind, at least in my mind.  It's a nice theme, even a little soothing.  Cute.  The more I listen, the more I like.  Good job, here.

#2 Now Centaur's Man theme I actually really like.  This song they actually made more relaxing than the others, and that bit of uniqueness makes it stand out a lot more, something the robot master themes desperately needed.  It actually makes me think of horses in fields, conveying an idea.  It's a great song, really being what MM6 needs.

#1  The robot master deserving of the number 1 spot is definitely Flame Man.  Not only does his level have good gameplay, but this theme just kicks butt.  I love how it actually gets Arabian tones in the music even though the format is so dated.  This really tells the skill of the composer in the game, as he made a really great theme here that is distinctive and entertaining.  This is what 8 bit music is all about.

Say what you want about the robots' themes, but the boss fight song is great!  I honestly think it's my favorite boss battle theme in the entire series.  It's a crazy song that really does exactly what a boss battle should do: be awesome and crazy!  Wooo!  Get them baddies, Mega Man!  The get a weapon theme is okay.  They could have done a little more with it, but whatever, it's good stuff.

MM6!  Come on, we had to deal with this in MM5!  I thought you knew better!  Sigh.  So like the last game, there are two castles, and each castle of four levels has only one theme.  Lame!  Come on guys, at least switch it up a little!  Oh well.  At least the Mr. X theme is cool.  It's a good song, weird and fun.  I love the beginning of it especially.

The Dr. Wily theme is good too.  It's a little nostalgic...I like that.  I would like it better if they hadn't made the robot masters' themes nostalgic as well, but whatever.  This song takes me back to the good ol' NES days, and I enjoy it a lot. La la-la, la, la la la!

You know how I said the Wily boss theme was the best in the last game?  I take it back again.  This is more awesome.  I can't believe how much I like this song and the madness it shows.  It's so dang fun and really pumps you up to fight the mad scientist one more time.  Great stuffs!  Yeah!

I'm kinda irritated with the ending theme.  I mean, it's just a compilation of all the robot master themes with a couple of beats between each.  In a sense it's cool, as if you're saying goodbye to Mega Man NES, but still, to me it feel sort of like a cop out.  Especially since during the ending theme they're showing the robot masters'  patterns.  I guess it depends on how you look at it.

Actually, that song does make for a great transition into the credits theme, a sweet nostalgic song that really does say goodbye.  Crap, I love this song...it's the right way to end the Mega Man NES days.  It's such a good fun theme, as if you're saying goodbye to old friends.  Dang...I'm actually crying as I write this.  I didn't think it was that good.

Oh yeah, link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9Ug7szIvh0

So yeah, much like the game itself, the music is pretty hit or miss.  I just wish they had taken the time to be more individual with the robot master themes (and the password theme) rather than have them sound so thematically similar.  It's like they knew from the beginning that they were going to do a robot master compilation at the ending theme.

If this were the soundtrack to a movie, it would be a samurai movie where the main character has eight friends that he has to fight for some reason.  At the end of the movie they all get together to fight the real bad guy, or else the lead character remembers the former friends he fought.  It would be the kind of movie that some people really love, and other people don't get.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Mega Man Music --- MM5

Hey y'all.

You know, after writing reviews for all those other Mega Man games, I was starting to feel a little depressed.  Mega Man 5 really was the downturning of the series in certain ways, and honestly, it's my favorite game.  I remember playing and enjoying this series as a kid, and it means a lot to me.  Charge Man was the first robot master I ever defeated without Game Genie (who remembers Game Genie?).

So I just posted on the fourth game, and then I started listening to five's soundtrack.  That brought me out of the funk I was in, because whatever you want to say about the game, the music was definitely not one of its faults.  It pwns, doing a great job being what MM music is supposed to be. 

Oh no, all 5's flaws are in gameplay.  The plot is great, making it look like Proto Man actually kidnapped Dr. Light and held him hostage.  Of course Wily's behind it all in the end, but it's still a great plot.  The graphics also rock, and it's a fun good time for all.

Trouble is, by MM4 the classic series was all figured out.  That became trouble for the game because it then had to concentrate on making more unique gaming features for the robot master stages.  This might have been easier if Capcom hadn't been in such a rush.  MM5 (and 6) came out in the latter days of the NES, when the Super Nintendo was rising and becoming the thing (and no console has ever truly beaten the SNES in awesomeness).  I guess maybe Capcom wanted to make money so that they could move on to SNES games and still have some cash flow coming in while they work.

They did try.  I'll give 'em that.  One of the things they did wrong was make the Mega Buster's charged shot more powerful, and also larger in size.  This makes it too easy to kill bad guys.  Even worse, the weapons from the robot masters weren't great.  Crystal Man's was too random, Stone Man's couldn't hardly hit anything, Gyro and Napalm Man's were unwieldly, Gravity Man's wasn't strong enough, Wave's couldn't hit very high, and using Charge Man's was more likely to get yourself hurt than a baddie.  Star Man's shield was okay.  You're better off just going on as your normal Mega Man self in the end though.

The real doom of this game was the Proto Man and Wily Castle stages.  If these alone had been improved, then the whole game would have been much better.  Trouble is, there were a lot of great stage gimmicks during the robot master parts, but none of these gimmicks (or anything particularly interesting) were used in the castle stages.  Actually, at one point they reused the gimmick from Dust Man's stage in MM4, but you know...how about something new? 

The bosses in the Proto Man castle were extremely uncreative.  What happened to the big mammoth baddies in the other games?  Come on...

Bah, let's get on to some positive things.  First of all, they did try very interesting gimmicks for a lot of the stages.  Gravity Man's stage could have been developed more to be more challenging, but having gravity switched up and down was a great idea.  Everyone who played this game remembers the crystal drop segment of doom.  Then there's the Wave Man bubble ride that Splash Woman copied (in a better way), and Wave Man also had a fun jet ski segment.

So that's the problem with the gameplay.  They come up with good ideas, but they just didn't bring them out enough to be the right level of challenging (besides the crystal drop, which was fine as it was).  If they had just taken these same gimmicks and used them in the Proto Castle (Wily's castle should have its own gimmicks). It was a good game just done too fast.

However, gameplay is the one downside to the game, and this by no means ruins it.  The graphics are perfect 8-bit fare, the plot is good, and the music is definitely awesome.  Seriously, I love this soundtrack.  It's my favorite soundtrack.  I won't call it the best, but it's definitely the closest to my heart.  I was thinking about all the other games, and you know what?  You can talk all the crap you want to about MM5, but its music owns, and forget you if you don't agree!

Alright, so I'll tell you what I'm talking about. MM5's music is not out to be more epic, or more party, or darker than any other Mega Man soundtrack.  It's just out there being itself: relaxed, fun, and just good to sit and listen to.  Honestly, I don't even have to play the game.  I could just listen to this stuff on its own because it's so darn good.  It's actual music, not just vgm fare.  Not to talk down about other MM soundtracks, it's just that there's video games out there with music it's just weird to listen to if you're not playing the game.  You know what I'm saying?

So anyway, the introduction starts out a little dramatic, giving the apparent betrayal of Proto Man a proper and suprising sound.  The title theme is just awesome.  It's powerful and even a little sad.  It's like Mega Man's saying "Proto Man....why? I....I'll do what I have to!" 

The password screen theme is a nice tune.  It's not annoying, and it does exactly what it needs to do by urging the player to go ahead and input the password.  I like it.  The screen select theme is also good...man...I can't believe how much I love that song.

Robot Masters!  Whoohoo!  Remember that these are in order of quality, not my personal favorite.

#8 One of the robot masters with a fun level was Gyro Man, who had his elevators of doom with death spikes on them.  I wish they had more of them in the game.  But anyway, his music is good.  It's a little too mellow and dragging in my opinion.  It's a perfectly good song, but it's not as evocative as the others.  Chillin' in the clouds...

#7 Wave Man's music is nice and relaxing.  It's about just cruising along in the water, just going on and enjoying everything.  Honestly, it's really too happy to be a robot master theme, but you know what?  I dang well like it.  It would be awesome if the sun in the background set while you're on the jet ski segment.

#6 I really like Star Man's theme.  It's perfectly reminiscent of space, stars, science fiction, and machinery.  Like Crash Man's theme in MM2, it serves as the randomly wonky piece of the game.  I can just see the little jet mets now, cruising in space.  Honestly, I think this level in particular was perfect.  Hard, but well designed.  And the music was exactly what it needed to be.

#5 Charge Man's music is great.  I seriously need to write lyrics to it.  Words come to mind as if it's a song about a guy asking a girl to run off on a train with him to go have adventures or something.  It's be so great in a movie...

#4 Now, one of the robot masters, Stone Man, is in a long line of Guts Man rip offs (Hard Man, Concrete Man, etc), but his theme is awesome.  It's intense without forgetting how to be an MM song, and it keeps you going during his level, easily the longest in the game. 

#3 This is how you know I'm trying to go by quality and not play favorites.  Crystal Man isn't coming in at first, though he's my favorite robot master with my favorite theme of all time.  His theme has an intense beginning, with a very dramatic middle, and an ending that sounds as if it's mocking Mega Man.  Seriously, this is good stuff.  Weird and dramatic, just how I like.  I can still remember hearing this as a kid and trying my hardest to remember it over the years.  Praise God for youtube.

#2 Gravity Man's theme is just what you expect a robot with a unique power to have.  It's fun and just a little wonky, with a nice mechanical layer to it.  It represents the true spirit of what an MM song should be.  It makes me want to play a video game.

#1 Was number 1 really going to be any different?  It's all about Napalm Man.  Seriously.  This guy's music is just so dang Vietnam, just like the game designers intended.  Honestly, this makes me think of shopping in California (you also await lyrics, Napalm Man theme...), but it's such a happy and yet equally fierce tone that well, it's a true masterpiece.  So it wins.

This soundtrack also has a great boss battle theme.  It's one of the favorites, and it's really good.  It's a fun theme with perfect melodic layering.  The "get a weapon" bit is simple, but to me it sounds like a really great background for a rap. 

One of the things I will never forgive MM5 for is for having two castles (Proto Man's and Wily's) but each castle of four levels only gets one theme.  That's stupid.  Four levels of the same song?  The other games castles had two songs each.  What gives?  Luckly, the theme for Proto Man's castle is a great song and is probably the most well liked track from this entire game. 

Wily's castle theme is also really good, I think.  It's dramatic, enjoyable, and dang does it bring back those memories.  It's great, sending you off to Wily guns blazing.  If only you didn't have to hear it four darn levels in a row.

The game over theme wasn't really that much of a theme in this game.  Ah well, didn't need to be.

Y'know how I said MM4's Wily battle music was the best in series?  I take it back, this is.  Honestly, this is is such a powerful theme here.  I enjoy it so darn much.  The ending theme is so much dang fun too.  It's the perfect ending for a fun game where you find out your brother really didn't kidnap your dad after all and just might be a good guy.  I remember downloading the MM5 soundtrack once (before I freaked out about legality) and I would just listen to this song over and over because it's just so darn happy.

That's the thing about this whole set of music.  It's happy, good times.  It's not trying to go anywhere outside of itself, and I love the honesty.  This is definitely my favorite soundtrack ever, and if it were the soundtrack to a movie, it would be one of those movies where the protagonists are a group of friends roadtripping through California.  Some bad guy is doing something evil and the only people that can stop him are the not particularly smart but still well meaning roadtrippers.  It's like a group of friends just doing what they can to stop an evil they never really believed could exist.

Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZoURky2zdoc

Fun stuffs!