Best videogame vinyl and soundtracks to rock the new year

It’s funny how certain products come full circle. Vinyl records were thought to be a thing of the past, yet sales for the collector’s items are now hotter than ever. Thankfully because of this, videogame music aficionados can get their hands on an array of incredible soundtracks, that now have been beautifully pressed onto polyvinyl chloride discs. 

From personal experience, we’ve learned that collecting records and rare soundtracks is frightfully addictive, albeit a little costly at times. One harsh lesson learned is that many popular soundtracks sell out rapidly. Consequently, this leaves many of us scouring the web for that rare special edition that won’t send us bankrupt. Ah well, the girlfriend can go without a birthday present this year. Even so, the satisfaction gained by being able to cleanly listen to your favorite music tracks makes it ever the more fulfilling.

So, with that, this list has been catered to those of us that consider themselves a connoisseur of the medium, while hopefully being able to add intrigue to any curious newcomers. Late Christmas present or simply treating yourself, we’ve got you sorted. After all, you wouldn’t want to be a needle stuck in a groove this year.

Uncharted Vinyl Bundle

Uncharted vinyl bundle. Image Credit: iam8bit.

We start off with a series near and dear to our hearts – Uncharted. We wish that we held off picking up the Uncharted vinyl records individually, now that iam8bit is offering a collection which comprises the entire Uncharted legacy. In other words, Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection, Uncharted 4 Aside/Bside, and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. 

You can grab the Uncharted Vinyl Bundle from iam8bit for $90 (roughly £71 or AU$125).

Stardew Valley Complete Vinyl Soundtrack Box Set

Stardew Valley Vinyl Box Set. Image credit: Fangamer.

We all know that one person whose life was consumed by Stardew Valley for a period of time (maybe it still is). Well, now you can help contribute to their farming fantasies with this exquisite new vinyl collection. Although a Stardew Valley record released previously, this particular one includes the full 77-soundtrack for the first time ever. 

A really cool extra feature is that all four vinyl discs have been colored to match every season. On top of this, the sleeve has all-new art-work created by Kari Fry, who was the designer behind the official guidebook. Forget whale noises, Stardew Valley’s harvest themes will help anyone relax come Christmas morning. 

You can pick up the Stardew Valley Complete Vinyl Soundtrack Box Set for $59 (roughly £46 or AU$82) from Fangamer.

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night Original Videogame Soundtrack

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night Original Videogame Soundtrack. Image Credit: Mondo.

What can we say about Symphony of the Night that hasn’t been said prior? Not only is it one of the highest rated videogames of all time but it also contains one of the best gaming soundtracks ever composed. 

Partnering with Konami, Mondo has brought the Castlevania cult-hit to records. Featuring the full original mix, including the unforgettable ‘Dracula’s Castle’, these remasters come packaged with seven bonus tracks from the Sega Saturn version. There are some slick original designs used for the covers too, not to mention the choice of four different colors for the record itself. 

You can pick up the Castlevania: Symphony of the Night Soundtrack for $35 (roughly £27 or AU$48) from Mondo.  

Cuphead 4xLP Deluxe Vinyl Soundtrack

Cuphead 4xLP Deluxe Vinyl Soundtrack. Image Credit: iam8bit.

Talk about catchy tunes. If you haven’t experienced the weird and wonderful world of Cuphead, you can still appreciate the stylish mixes that Studio MDHR produced with its tribute to 1930’s cartoons. Promising a ‘thrill ride of jazz jollies and big band boisterousness’, the three-hour deluxe vinyl soundtrack will add an essence of class to any party you throw. 

Packaged in a sleek 30’s inspired folio design, this is something to display proudly. Above all, what I love most it that you can tell the band are just having the a wicked time jamming together.  

You can pick up the Cuphead 4xLP Deluxe Vinyl Soundtrack from iam8bit for $100 (roughly £79 or AU$139).

God of War Soundtrack – Vinyl/CD 

God of War Soundtrack – Vinyl. Image Credit: Amazon.

Anger. Rage. Fear. Emotion. God of War’s pure storytelling is simply in a league of its own. Following Kratos and Atreus on their perilous journey into the realms of Norse mythology, Bear McCreary really outdid himself with this magnificent soundtrack, that only heightens the adventure. 

Now you can pick up a copy of the 2018 phenomenon on both CD and Vinyl. We only wish there was a track of Kratos yelling “boy” continuously…  

The God of War Soundtrack is available as either a CD or Vinyl. The vinyl is available from Amazon for $41.06 (roughly £32 or AU$57), while the CD is available from Amazon for $11.65 (roughly £9 or AU$160).

Hero of Time Vinyl (Music from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time)

Hero of Time 2xLP (Music from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time). Image Credit: iam8bit.

20 years on from release, Ocarina of Time’s musical melodies are still considered synonymous with videogames. Opting for a minimal approach with the exterior art-work, inside this vinyl you’ll find stunning depictions of both time zones that Link visits in his quest. 

A nice added touch is the vinyl records themselves, which have been coated to represent green and purple Rupees. Koji Kondo’s triumphant orchestral was the theme music to millions of childhoods worldwide, and now sounds better than ever thanks to this newly recorded set by the 64-piece Slovak National Symphony Orchestra. 

You can pick up the Hero of Time 2xLP (Music from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time) from iam8bit for $40 (roughly £32 or AU$56).

Celeste Vinyl Soundtrack

Celeste Vinyl Soundtrack. Image Credit: Fangamer.

Scoring big at The Game Awards, Celeste left a double-prize winner after a stellar debut in early 2018. Initially selling out its original allotment, restocks are now on the way. So, if you do want the option to hear the extraordinary polyphonic tunes like never before, you’ll need to keep your eye on the prize here. 

The set comes with two crystal-clear records, that feature 19 tracks from the award-winning soundtrack. Don’t miss out. 

The Celeste Vinyl Soundtrack is available from Fangamer for $33 (roughly £26 or AU$46).

Japan Studio Vinyl Bundle 

Japan Studio Vinyl Bundle. Image Credit: iam8bit.

Part of the same deal offered for the Uncharted bundle, the Japan Studio focused collection contains soundtracks from both The Last Guardian and Shadow of the Colossus. Anyone that has explored either title will immediately remember the epic orchestral beats that preside over each world. 

Takeshi Furukawa and Kow Otani’s scores have been heralded as masterpieces in sound, with many considering the latter to be timeless.

You can grab the Japan Studio Vinyl Bundle from Fangamer for $52 (roughly £41 or AU$73).

Doom (Original Game Soundtrack) Deluxe Double Vinyl

Doom (Original Game Soundtrack) Deluxe Double Vinyl. Image Credit: Laced Records.

Hell, yes! Doom has always managed to bring the house down with its great sense of rock. Who knew shooting up demons left, right, and centre would sound so good? 

This collection offers the complete Doom 2016 soundtrack (31 tracks) on four black vinyl records, a deluxe double hard-slipcase, and four full printed deluxe inner spined sleeves. Interestingly, the music for this was cut at the world-famous Abbey Road Studios in London. 

The Doom (Original Game Soundtrack) Deluxe Double Vinyl is available from Laced Records for roughly $80 / £63 / AU$111.

Golf Story Vinyl Soundtrack

Golf Story Vinyl Soundtrack. Image Credit: Fangamer.

Can’t get time for a round of golf? No bother, Golf Story’s superb mix of laid-back composites and energetic rifts are terrific for any day spent at home. Released for the Nintendo Switch in 2017, the indie-darling can be purchased for a subpar price. 

What’s ace about this product is that the record is a striking fairway green color, while arriving with 17 toe-tapping tunes to keep you happy until the Masters. A hole-in-one indeed.

You can pick up the Golf Story Vinyl Soundtrack from Fangamer for $23 (roughly £18 or AU$32).

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Best racing games: the top racing titles that’ll rev your engine

The racing game genre has been around almost as long as there have been video games and machines to play them on. And with very good reason. What better way to experience driving fast without the risk of a big crash or a speeding ticket? 

While in the early days a blob of 8-bit pixels that vaguely resembled a Ferrari counted as realism, in the current generation we are spoiled for choice in how we get our high-speed kicks. 

Hyper-realistic graphics, more detailed physics than ever and higher levels of immersion – aided by the rise of VR – are all features of the top titles right now. And for those who prefer their racing to be more arcadey and over-the-top, there’s plenty out there for you too. 

It’s fair to say that we’ve come a long way since the days of Pole Position and Super Hang-On; take it from me, racing gamers have rarely had it this good. 

Let’s run down the the best racing games from each platform, as well as take a look at the other high-profile contenders currently sat on the starting grid. 

Best PS4 racing game: Gran Turismo Sport

This might be a surprising choice given the very valid criticism GT Sport received on launch for lacking content – initially it didn’t even have a true single-player campaign like previous Gran Turismo titles. 

But the series’ trademark focus on stunning graphics and realistic-feeling handling was evident right from the get-go, and over time monthly patches have beefed up the single player with new cars, tracks and GT League championships – all for the princely sum of free. 

It’s now not only a much stronger value proposition, but one of the best sim racing experiences out there – and certainly the best PS4-exclusive. 

A heavy esports focus means the online modes are very well structured and run smoothly, the single-player campaign now has a decent amount of longevity, and the game nails what every Gran Turismo game has gotten right; the sheer joy of driving.  

Best Xbox One racing game: Forza Horizon 4

Best Xbox One racing game: Forza Horizon 4

Recently reviewed on this very site, the Forza Horizon series has always trended more towards arcade thrills than Gran Turismo – and indeed the Forza Motorsport series it spun off from. 

And the fourth installment is the absolute apex of this vision of free-roaming open-world fun in fast cars. The rural British setting provides a nice variety of roads, hills, scenery and countryside to hoon around and explore in, and the game both looks and plays absolutely beautifully. 

It’s a big toybox with a vast array of cars, missions and secrets to plough through, and much like games like Test Drive Unlimited and Burnout Paradise, it’s a fabulously immersive experience that constantly finds new ways to put a big smile on your face.  

  • Read our Forza Horizon 4 review

Best Nintendo Switch racing game: Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Best Nintendo Switch racing game: Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Unfortunately the Nintendo Switch is relatively lacking for great racing games, with most being average-to-decent ports of games from other consoles or even Android systems. 

In among this field one clear winner stands out; the excellent Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. 

In itself a port of Mario Kart 8 on the previous-generation Wii U, this game doesn’t just stick a new name on an old game and knock off for lunch. 

New characters, tweaked graphics enabling 1080p/60fps output while the Switch is docked, and a reworked Battle Mode all contribute to this being a massive critical and commercial success, and one of the very best installments in the long-running Mario Kart franchise. 

There’s still few better games out there for breaking out among friends – and potentially ruining said friendships – than Mario Kart, and 8 Deluxe takes the series to new heights of colorful fun.

  • Mario Kart 8 Deluxe tips and tricks

Best PC racing game: iRacing

Best PC racing game: iRacing

For PC-exclusive sim racing games, there’s still no real competition to iRacing’s goliath. 

The monthly subscription and additional content costs means its far from the cheapest racing game on the market, but in this case you absolutely pay for what you get.

There’s excellent online play with solid matchmaking, laser-scanned real-world racetracks and the most realistic handling model possible – so much so that real race drivers use this sim to learn tracks, practice new cars and handling setups, or just to unwind between races. 

The game has been supported with consistent updates and new content, and despite being ten years old this year, there’s still nothing that comes close for the most true-to-life sim racing experience in gaming.

Honorable Mentions

DiRT Rally (PC/PS4/Xbox One)

Codemasters’ popular rally racing series, stretching back to the Colin McRae Rally games on PS1 and PS2, decided to move in a more hardcore simulation direction with this spin-off title. 

And from the moment it hit Steam Early Access in 2015, we knew we were in for something special. Put simply, there’s few more adrenaline-pumping experiences in all of gaming than belting a 500hp Group B rally car through the hills of Finland, flying through the air and inevitably smashing headlong into a tree. 

Think of it as the Dark Souls of the racing game genre; it’s very difficult, and you probably will crash a lot, but it’s relentlessly fun nonetheless and the sense of satisfaction from negotiating a stage without hitting a tree or falling off a cliff is unparalleled. A sequel is on the way in early 2019, and to say we’re excited is a real understatement.

F1 2018 (PC/PS4/Xbox One)

Speaking of Codemasters, they have enjoyed a fruitful run with the official Formula 1 license since 2009, and their latest installment is another fantastic step forward. 

Given how unbelievably fast real F1 cars are, managing to balance realistic-feeling physics with being accessible to players of all skill levels and control types is a major achievement in itself. 

Alongside this comes one of the deepest career mode experiences in all of sports gaming, with car development and team relationship trees making things feel more like an RPG than a regular sports game. 

The level of depth and replay-ability in this title is astounding, and absolutely makes it worth your time – and that’s without diving into the variety of classic F1 cars also available in the game. For unleashing your inner Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button or Nigel Mansell, this is the perfect game. 

  • Read our F1 2018 review

Project CARS 2 (PC/PS4/Xbox One)

The first Project CARS was a very ambitious attempt to make the most realistic and deep sim racing title ever seen across all platforms, and whilst Slightly Mad Studios didn’t quite hit the mark first time out, the sequel gets very close to that grandiose vision. 

A monstrous amount of cars, tracks and game mode combines with a tweaked career mode and most importantly, a refined physics engine that makes the game far easier to play on both controller and steering wheel. 

A fabulous sense of speed, gorgeous lighting and day-to-night transitions and a great attention to detail with atmospheric effects make PCARS 2 possibly the most visceral sim racing experience on consoles and PC. 

Assetto Corsa (PC/PS4/Xbox One)

With PCARS 2 going for head-crushing depth, Assetto Corsa offers a more streamlined and accessible alternative without sacrificing the simulation physics. 

It’s a much easier experience to jump into, and while the roster of cars and circuits is much smaller than PCARS 2, there’s still a very interesting selection available – and even the most terrifying Le Mans prototypes and Grand Prix cars feel satisfying to drive right out the gate. 

A more structured career mode progression and challenge curve also help add to this game’s more user-friendly appeal, and in many ways both it and PCARS 2 complement each other. 

Get both if you can, but should you be newer to more simulation-based racing games, start with AC first to get you up and running. Meantime, a sequel – Assetto Corsa Competizione – just dropped on Steam Early Access, and it already looks like Kunos Simulazioni are on to take a giant step forward over the original. 

The best PlayStation Classic prices and deals in January 2019

In an attempt to emulate the successes of Nintendo’s NES Classic Mini and SNES Classic Mini, Sony unveiled the PlayStation Classic – a mini retro console that arrived just in time for Christmas.

Looking, playing and presumably smelling exactly the same as the original Sony PlayStation, the Classic is 45% smaller than the original and comes pre-loaded with 20 games, playable in their original format.

The full lineup of games has now been announced and it includes some absolute classics including Grand Theft Auto, Destruction Derby, Final Fantasy VII, Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil and Tekken 3 – full list below!

The PlayStation Classic released on December 3 and comes with two replica controllers in the box, along with an HDMI cable and a USB cable. It needs a USB AC adapter for power though, and this isn’t included in the box so you’ll need to get one of those separately, or use the 5V charger from a phone or tablet.

The launch price of the PlayStation Classic was $99.99 in the US, £89.99 in the UK and $149.99 in Australia, but we can do better than that for you as you’ve probably seen above. The original PlayStation was the first console in history to sell more than 100 million units and to this day is still the second best selling console of all time behind only the PlayStation 2 in the history books. So there are a lot of people out there who hold this console close to their hearts and will jump at the chance of taking a stroll down memory lane.

PlayStation Classic: full list of games

  • Battle Arena Toshinden
  • Cool Boarders 2
  • Destruction Derby
  • Final Fantasy VII
  • Grand Theft Auto
  • Intelligent Qub
  •  Jumping Flash
  • Metal Gear Solid
  • Mr Driller
  • Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee
  • Rayman
  • Resident Evil Director’s Cut
  • Revelations: Persona
  • Ridge Racer Type 4
  • Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo
  • Syphon Filter
  • Tekken 3
  • Tom Clancy’s Rainbow 6
  • Twisted Metal, Wild Arms

Apple’s iPhone sales shortfall could cost it $9 billion in revenue

Apple isn’t selling as many iPhones as it had previously forecast, according to revised first quarter projections, and it’s a big enough shortfall to lower its revenue estimates by billions of dollars.

The company lowered its guidance by $9 billion (about £$7.14b, AU$12.9b), going from a projected high of $93 billion (about £74b, AU$133b) to a new estimate of $84 billion (about £67b, AU$120b).

The blame? “Lower than anticipated iPhone revenue, primarily in Greater China,” according to a letter by Apple CEO Tim Cook. He cited the slowing of the Chinese economy and US-China trade tensions.

Apple stock was briefly halted and the share price fell over 10 points in after hours trading. If there’s any good news, it’s that Cook noted that categories outside of the iPhone, including Mac, iPad wearables and services, actually grew by 19%.

Other reason for iPhone weakness

It’s not all China. Other factors for weak iPhone performance include the strength of the US dollar and Apple’s temporarily price cut for its replacement battery service in older iPhones. That deal ended on December 31.

Cook also cited the fact that there are fewer carrier subsidies in a CNBC interview. In the US, for example, a new iPhone isn’t $199 on contract anymore. That changed a while ago, but it’s just hitting some new upgraders for the first time.

“There aren’t as many subsidies as their used to be from a carrier point of view,” said Cook. “That didn’t all happen yesterday, but if you were out of the market for two to three years and you come back, it looks like that to you.”

The next official Apple earning conference call is expected to happen toward the end of this month, on Tuesday, January 29. We’ll have the final numbers and more words from Cook and company then.

  • Without iOS 12.1.2 on iPad, some users can’t import iCloud backups

Without iOS 12.1.2 on iPad, some users can’t import iCloud backups

Getting started with the new iPad 9.7 and iPad Pro is hitting a technical snag, according to some frustrated users and verified by our own testing.

It’s impossible to import existing backup data on an updated iPhone through iCloud or iTunes, because Apple hasn’t updated the iPad to iOS 12.1.2 yet. This is especially maddening for brand new iPad owners who only have iPhone data to import.

The latest version of the iPhone operating system is iOS 12.1.2, a minor tweak aimed at solving eSIM issues and other iOS 12 problems. The latest version of the iPad, meanwhile, is stuck at iOS 12.1.1.

The iPad doesn’t need the phone-focused iOS 12.1.2 update… Only it does because now you can’t import iCloud or iTunes backups from an iPhone into a new iPad if you’ve already updated to iOS 12.1.2 on the phone.

Apple confirmed this to us:

“You’re correct. You would not be able to restore a backup from an iOS version later than what’s currently installed,” according to Apple Support in a Twitter direct message to TechRadar.

The fact that Apple nags you to update to iOS 12.1.2 on the phone and now defaults to auto-updates means that many iPhone owners who bought a new iPad are likely to have iOS 12.1.2 on their phone already without knowing it.

What to do if you’re really stuck

We tested this problem out on three different iPads, including a new iPad owner who didn’t have any iCloud backups besides those from their iPhone. They didn’t own an iPad previously, and bought the new iPad 9.7 due to the deeply discounted price over the holidays. A lot of novice users may be in the same boat.

They weren’t able to load up apps, photos, and messages from the get-go. Importing all of your old data between devices right from the start via iCloud is one of the best features Apple’s mobile operating system has going for it.

We did find a loophole that eventually solved this frustrating problem, but it required tapping into our $99 (about £79, AU$142) Apple Developer tool kit. We updated the iPad to the iOS 12.1.3 developer beta, leapfrogging the iOS 12.1.2 iPhone version, and we were then able to complete the iPhone data import to the iPad that way.

That’s obviously not a solution for everyone. Most people will have to wait for Apple to launch an iPad software update to match the iPhone software version number. Until then, they can set up their newly unwrapped iPad as a new device and re-download everything manually.

  • Coming next week: CES 2019 predictions for the big tech event