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November 9, 2011 / jwaxo

Blaze (Music Spurs Memory)

The first game on this blog I haven’t been able to track down a screenshot for. I hope this will suffice.

UPDATE 02/08/2012: I had to travel 800 miles to get this screenshot. Be thankful.

I have to admit something: I once made a mistake. And not just any mistake, one about video games, and one that was in this very blog. Sure, forget a few inaccuracies in my screenshots or maybe some exaggerations for storytelling techniques; I outright made a huge boo-boo.

I forgot the name of a game.

Well, I forgot it for about five minutes. Because I have a trick for remembering things like this. It’s not a trick that I learned on purpose, and not something that I invoke on purpose (although I’ve read a bunch of study aids that suggest it), but something that I’ve known about for years:

Music helps you remember stuff.

Now, remember that huge post about video game music? You’re probably thinking to yourself “uh, duh, of course music helps you remember stuff. You play that one song from Mario Bros., of course I’m going to flashback to the days of my youth, just as you do on a bi-weekly basis.” This is true. But that’s not what I’m talking about, not exactly, because it’s only a part of the lesson learned here.

The game in question, Blaze, which I mentioned before, was a stupid little game that came with Softdisk Monthly. Our entire family played it for a very short while in ’98, in particular my sister and myself, although I distinctly remember each family member trying their hand at it for a while.

It was a basic Tetris  setup (in fact, the first Tetris-like game I had ever played), with pairs of colored “blazes” drifting slowly down a silhouette of a building. The player could move the falling blazes left or right, or rotate them as they needed to. If four blazes of one color were lined up, they would be put out in some stupid video-game logic. Your goal, as the firefighter controlling the blazes, was to put out prearranged blazes on each the building. It started out easy, with one or two blazes of the same color starting you out, and eventually starting you out with the building mostly full of blazes, requiring good luck on the colors you drew and awesome reflexes.

In other words, a Dr. Mario ripoff. I played it a lot, generally in the evening while my siblings did their hard, middle-school homework. While I played computer games, they would play the radio.

And on that radio there was one track, seemingly stuck on repeat at the radio station…

The song was Aaliyah’s “Are You That Somebody?” or, as the requesters at the radio station called it, “the Baby Song” due to the incessantly crying baby during the chorus. This song, which for some reason was written for the Dr. Doolittle remake’s soundtrack, is tied irreparably in my head to Blaze. A song that I would normally forget after two months of it being off of the radio, and a game that I played for maybe two weeks or so, are now unforgettable due to the weird ability of memory to force you to remember something. It’s not like either of those subjects come up too often, and I immediately think of the other.

“Ah, yes. ‘Are You That Somebody?’ Brings me back to when I was a boy, putting out fires on a computer…

There’s just something goofy about music and strong visuals (and maybe a little frustration) that have the amazing ability to force you to remember something, and I learned about that magic in the fourth grade.

However, like I said, it’s not like I ever applied this knowledge. It probably would have helped me a lot with my exams in college. Hmm.

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