Tommy Tallarico, Emmanuel Fratianni, and the North Carolina Symphony have done it again! Another amazing Video Games Live event that did not disappoint. VGL is an event that is huge in some places and just starting to spread across the world! I went for the first time last year and had a blast, and that did not change this year!
What did change, as Tallarico promises each city, were the songs or visuals that accompanied them. For each city the VGL goes to, an event page is created on Facebook and he asks the most important question, “What songs and games do you want to see?”. 2013’s show will not be the same as a 2014 show, nor will 2015’s. For good or “worse”, you will get your money’s worth no matter how many years in a row you attend.
The details before the show can be almost as fun, and really adds to the VGL experience. While lacking the retro arcade games from last year (Boooooo!!), they did have an interesting game to display for the PS3’s Wand that I hadn’t seen before. It’s basically a digital version of the old egg-and-spoon race except sabotage and suicide were options! And let me tell you, that line was never empty of people waiting to get a(nother) turn.
Neither was the line to play Super Mario Kart 8! Extra Life was there to raise awareness of their awesome program to help sick kids, and I highly recommend that you check it out. It doesn’t take place until October so there’s plenty of time to get sponsors for this perfect excuse to play video games nonstop.
The first order of every Video Games Live! event is the cosplay contest, and Raleigh, North Carolina brought it this year! It was an even more unique turnout this year and even more impressive was that only a few of the contestants looked like they had anything ordered off the internet. Homemade outfits almost all around. The only complaint I might have about this contest (just in case you’re thinking of attending with hopes of winning) is that the crowd voices their vote. Which means that even if you have the most bad ass costume in the state, chances are the little kid with the Walmart Boba Fett Halloween costume is going to win. But that’s not really why you’re going, is it?
After the contest, you jump right into meeting the symphony and conductor, with Tommy sliding right in behind him, sometimes quite figuratively! This year he started with a tribute to the Castlevania series, and I cannot tell you how many chills I got listening to songs from my favorite installment, Symphony of the Night. Our show covered everything from Shadow of the Colossus, to Mega Man, Skyrim, Kingdom Hearts, and even Secret of Monkey Island. There no less than 20 different games or series covered in last night’s show. We even were privileged to get scenes and music from the upcoming title, Destiny! And I cannot tell you how amazing it was to hear several live performances from the insanely talented, Jillian Aversa.
But the most thrilling performance for me to watch was when the North Carolina Symphony tackled the very difficult, “Wind of Madness” from Resident Evil 5. Also known as the Wesker Battle Theme. My heart was pounding as I watched the entire ensemble, I honestly do not even remember glancing at the large screens more than twice. It was so intense, you actually felt the floor and air trembling with notes. Needless to say, before they could completely finish, people were on their feet. It was the perfect way to end the first half of the show.
Video Games Live is not only about the music or gaming vids, it’s also about getting the next generation into the symphony and creating an environment friendly for gamers, family and friends, and newcomers. The Guitar Hero contest was just as much fun as last year and so were the little video game skits in between segments. Tallarico even had a member of the crowd move around on stage as a human war ship and with a firing buzzer, trying to finish the first round of Space Invader.
Out of the hundred suggestions and requests you make before Video Games Live comes to your town, you just do not know all that was chosen until Tommy announces it. It’s thrilling, it’s funny, and it is a time you will remember for the rest of your life. Please! You must go to Video Games Live and see if their 2014 and 2015 schedule is going to bring them to your town. You won’t regret a single minute of it. Jillian Aversa silenced the audience last night with an emotional rendition of “Invincible”, watch the short clip below and see what you’re missing.
Once more, I cannot thank Joe Newberry and the entire North Carolina Symphony for allowing me to bring two of my favorite experiences in life together in one night! This is an amazing event and I thank you for bringing Video Games Live back to our city. Credit goes to House Photographer, Michael Zirker, for the pictures of Tommy Tallarico and Jillian Aversa. I hope to see you guys next year!
William H. Hylton is a full-time geek and lives in Raleigh, North Carolina where he’s surrounded by cats, movies, books, and (of course) games. From the first time he threw a fireball as Mario and...