Plants vs. Zombies 2: Egypt Theme on the piano

January 21, 2014 at 2:40 pm | Posted in Plants vs. Zombies piano version series | Leave a comment
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Hi you guys! So a lot of folks have been asking me whether or not I contributed any music to Plants vs. Zombies 2. To answer your question: Yes, a lot of my compositions from the original PvZ were remixed for the sequel; I also composed the music you hear during the Egypt stage. Originally I gave it a silly pun name, as I did with all the earlier tracks (“Walk like an Egyptian Zombie” heh heh)… Anyways, I hope you enjoy ^_^/

This is my *REAL* Facebook page (the others are fake)

January 19, 2014 at 3:16 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Hello all!

I’m writing today to let you guys know that I finally made my own Facebook page! A while back, it was brought to my attention that there were a lot of fake “Laura Shigihara” pages popping up after Plants vs. Zombies came out… I didn’t mind at first, but then I realized that several of them were using my pictures and pretending to be me! There was even one that had some crude material on there >_< Of course, none of those belong to me. I figured that the best thing to do (besides reporting the bad ones), was to make an official page of my own… So hopefully, it will be clear which one is real ^_^

So now, I need to ask you guys for help! I would really really appreciate if you could give the real page a “like” and let people know via Facebook, Twitter, etc. that this one is the real me! While Facebook hasn’t removed some of the folks who are pretending to be me, I think getting as many people as possible to like the real page will go a long way in communicating which one is real… Every little bit helps ^__^

laura shigihara_banner_blue

I will try my best to make the page as interesting as possible, with updates about my games, music videos, contests (I’ll probably do another Zelda Ocarina giveaway), and I’m sure there will be some bad puns and nerdy-jokes as well (ohohoh~!!).

Oh, and lastly! Here is a new video for you guys: “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” from the movie “Frozen”… I hope you enjoy ^_^/

First Day

November 19, 2013 at 11:49 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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I was really surprised that a number of folks had recognized my voice in a song I wrote for an iPhone game called High School Story. Since then a bunch of folks asked if I’d put up a video for it, so I tried my best to get that finished up today^^ This song is called, “First Day”… And I created it for my friends at Pixelberry Studios. There are some really talented writers there, and I really like some of the things they’re doing to help with education and anti-bullying (they recently partnered with They’re also fun to play board games and drink tea with.

Anyways… I hope you enjoy ^_^/

Oh, one more thing: So the reason I’m dressed up like that (yes that’s a blue wig) is because a while back the Pixelberry folks and I entered a Halloween contest all dressed as high school stereotypes (jocks, nerds, cheerleaders, goths, punks, etc.). We ended up losing to a group of people who went as Adventure Time characters, the ringleader being my artist for Rakuen, Emmy ^_^ Small world!

~Kaze no Toori Michi~

November 12, 2013 at 8:37 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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I’m so happy that after about 2 months of hiding under a rock working on Rakuen, I was finally able to post a new youtube video today! For our 2nd collaboration, Britaney and I decided to do a violin-piano-vocal cover of “Kaze no Toori Michi” from Miyazaki’s Tonari no Totoro. Hope you guys enjoy ^_^/

My new game, Rakuen

October 16, 2013 at 12:27 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 11 Comments
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Hi everyone!! I thought it was about time I filled you guys in on what I’ve been doing lately. I think some of you know that while spent most of my career as an indie video game composer/sound engineer, I was actually at EA for about 2 years as an Audio Director. I met a lot of wonderful new folks there (like the Pixelberry team for example). But after most of the original Plants vs. Zombies team was laid off, I ended up leaving the company, too.

Now that I was indie again, my goal was to finally finish up Melolune. However, after 2 years of not working on a 20 hour rpg (yes, I actually had 20 hours of playable content at that point), it was quite overwhelming picking up where I left off! I had promised myself that I wasn’t going to start anything new until Melolune was finished, but I realized that working on a smaller scale project (that I was very inspired to do) would be a great way to get back into game development. So I’m really excited to announce that for the past year, I’ve been working on a new game called Rakuen. I’m doing the programming, design, audio, and in-game pixel character art. My friend Emmy Toyonaga (an incredibly talented artist, and also a former EA employee turned indie) is creating the concept art.

Rakuen is a story-based adventure game about a little Boy who becomes bored with living in a hospital, and eventually asks his mother if she’ll escort him to the fantasy world from his favorite storybook. Throughout the game, the Boy begins to learn more about the patients who live around him. They each have their own secrets and struggles that are mysteriously tied to the strange hospital. In helping those around him, the Boy deals with questions about empathy, hope, and what it means to leave behind a legacy by coming to terms with his own story.

In terms of gameplay, Rakuen functions like a mix between Maniac Mansion, To the Moon, and The Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past (though without battles or fighting). The story and character design is influenced by Japanese mythology and children’s culture, as well as films like Miyazaki’s Spirited Away.

We’re hoping to release the game early 2014 for PC initially (with possible ports afterwards). But for now, you can learn more about the game and follow its progress at the official website. The soundtrack is also available for Pre-Order at Bandcamp (you can also just listen to the tracks there for free if you’d like). I really hope you enjoy the music and art we have to share so far! And if you’d like to help us spread the news, please feel free to tell folks about Rakuen, we really appreciate your support ^_^/

p.s. There will be Leebles ^o^

Radical Dreamers and Cardboard Cutouts

August 12, 2013 at 3:05 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments
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So earlier today I was trying to explain something really weird that has happened to me at least twice in my life. I’ll tell you about the one incident I remember most clearly. I was in Home Depot, walking with some friends, and I noticed a man standing in front and slightly to the right of me. I wasn’t making eye contact with him, but I was aware of his presence. And for some reason, my brain decided that he was a cardboard cutout.

At this point, we continue walking towards him, and I’m now looking directly at him trying to figure out what this cardboard cutout is advertising. “Is this a paint advertisement?” “Is this for garden supplies?” Then suddenly he moves, and I get so startled that I scream right at him! Of course, this startles him and he looks very confused. So after I catch myself, I start profusely apologizing, and awkwardly trying to explain to him that I thought he was a cardboard cutout. Then I thought, “wait, is that offensive?” So then I dive into all these weird disclaimers like, “n-not that you look like cardboard… I mean, I just, from far away you were standing so still… and I… I don’t know, I’m sorry!!” He was nice about it.

Time for a weird weird segue!! I had the pleasure of collaborating with Meine Meinung on one of my favorite video game songs (Radical Dreamers 盗めない宝石 from Chrono Cross, composed by Yasunori Mitsuda). This cover has 2 guitars, double bass, and vocals… and if you are familiar with Chrono Trigger, you should be able to pick up the nice throwback they put in the arrangement ^_^ Originally they asked if I wanted to come to their studio, but I’m not in Japan right now, so they edited me in. And I think it looks pretty cool… sort of like I’m there, and sort of like a cardboard cutout (get it? Because of my story earlier? Ah… ehhh… sorry)

For real though, these guys are awesome. If you haven’t checked them out yet, you will not be disappointed. They have some of the best video game music covers on youtube, they’re fantastic musicians, and they have a really good sense of humor ^__^ I hope you enjoy our new video!

Lament of the Highborne

July 26, 2013 at 6:16 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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Hi everyone, long time no see ^_^/

I’ve been sitting on some big news for quite a while now… A friend and I have been working on a special little game-related side project (it’s not Melolune, however it is set in the same universe). I’m hoping to be able to talk about it soon, once all the major details are set in stone. Because I’ve been spending the majority of my free time devoted to this (in addition to tackling random things that have come up in life), I’ve been a bit less frequent with my youtube uploads (and by “a bit less” I mean I haven’t posted anything in 5 months ~_~)… So I must apologize for this and say thank-you for all of the kind messages you folks have sent me via youtube and twitter asking if I was okay ^__^

Happily, I was able to complete a new video this week! It is a vocal-only cover of “Lament of the Highborne,” a hauntingly beautiful song composed by Russell Brower for World of Warcraft. I was a bit hesitant to arrange this song because the original is already so perfect (and there are so many other lovely covers out there). I thought, “what could I possibly contribute to this?” But I had fun experimenting with harmonies, and revisiting a classical singing style that I haven’t done in years. I really hope you’ll enjoy^^

Plants vs Zombies XBLA Release Party!

August 3, 2010 at 5:00 pm | Posted in Video Games | 36 Comments
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So for those of you who were wondering what the August 2nd “save the date” was all about, PopCap held a Plants vs Zombies XBLA Release Party in San Francisco on that day and it was a blast! I tried to take as many pictures as I could (I’ll post some here, but if you want to see the entire batch, you can find them here). George and I also performed “Zombies on Your Lawn,” which you can watch here. I was a little nervous at first, but I hope it’s still alright!

There were 3 areas at the venue: The main courtyard had a makeshift stage and a delicious buffet-style dinner.

All the cooks there were wearing PvZ aprons, and unfortuntely for the plants they were serving Cornpults

They also had one of those giant pictures where people could put there heads through it in order to look like Bobsled Zombies. What are these called anyway? I see them all the time at carnivals and amusement parks, but I have no idea what their actual name is.

George Fan

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Laura Shigihara dances with zombies

Indoors they set up a gaming station with several large monitors and Xbox consoles so that people could come and try out the new game (some people were glued to their consoles for literally 2.5 hours)… there were benches and folks could hang out here to warm up (since it was really cold outside).

People test out versus mode for the first time

Lindsey Kurz, Tod Semple, Rich Werner, George Fan

laura shigihara in game room
Laura Shigihara in the game room

The last area was a small covered space between the courtyard and game station… there was a bar here where you could order PvZ-themed drinks like “Fermented Plant Matter” or Crazy Dave’s special “Zombie” drink. The PvZ artist (Rich Werner) also had a table set up where he drew personalized plants and zombies for people.

Infamous Brain Ooze

Some of Rich Werner’s sketches

Drink menu

laura shigihara, crazy dave, george fan
Laura Shigihara, the “real” Crazy Dave, and George Fan pose outside the game room

As for the game itself, I really think they did a great job with the conversion. At first I had no idea how the control scheme would work; going from the mouse to the iPhone or iPad was a simple transition, but I figured mapping controls to an Xbox controller would be a much bigger challenge. Basically, the player uses the analog stick to move the cursor around. Rather than clicking on sun, you roll the cursor over the sun in order to pick it up. Pressing the R-trigger will magnetize the sunshine allowing it to be automatically collected. You can use the right and left bumpers in order to scroll through the seed packets, and you press A to select them. It’s surprisingly intuitive and easy to pick up.

By far my favorite part of this version is the “versus mode.” You can play as either the plants or the zombies. The zombies’ goal is the same as in the original game: you want to break through the plant defenses and get to the house. The plants’ goal is to destroy a certain number of gravestone targets, while battling the onslaught of undead that the zombie player sends towards you. While it was still in development, I spent several hours playtesting this mode with George. Despite the fact that the game wasn’t even balanced yet, I could not stop playing because it was so addictive. There’s something incredibly fun about being able to place zombies… especially large ones like the Gargantuar.

The co-op mode is also worth checking out; especially if you’re trying to get less competitive friends or family members to join in. Players can help each other out by “buttering” zombies in order to hold them in place. This mode also encourages players to talk with one another in order to come up with strategies for the more difficult levels. And of course, there is no shortage of fun mini-games in addition to the original adventure mode… so even though this isn’t a sequel, it has so much new material that it kind of feels like one 😛

Anyways, thanks to Popcap for putting on such a fun event! We had a great time 🙂

When we were young… a post mortem on live action role playing

May 12, 2010 at 8:57 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 24 Comments
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When I first heard about L.A.R.P. (live action role playing) I was under the impression that it was just a bunch of crazy nerds going out into the woods and throwing fake lightning bolts at each other. I was so amused by this that I even talked George into renting a L.A.R.P. documentary called Monster Camp, which actually ended up being a very entertaining and insightful film. I say “insightful” because the director, through the examples of the people he followed, delved heavily into the concept of escapism. There was a lady who said she larped to escape the reality of being in a wheel chair, a single father who was addicted to World of Warcraft, a software programmer at Xerox, and many others. I was surprised at the wide variety of people who attended these events. For some of them, larping was just a healthy activity where they could get away for a weekend and hang out with friends… for others, it was just another drug helping them avoid neglected responsibilities in their real lives.

The other concept the film touched upon was one that I’d been curious about for quite some time: being able to enjoy make-believe as if you were a kid again. I remember going out into the backyard with my friend and our younger sisters and just playing for hours. I remember we pretended that we lived on an island, and we’d invent various scenarios. One time we said that “bad guys” were going to invade the island and we’d have to prepare traps and other defenses… Another time we decided that winter was coming so we gathered “supplies” and fortified our shelter. We had this tree in our yard that was slowly dying, it was hollow at the top and rainwater collected there. It wasn’t just water though, it had magical powers of restoration that could cure my sister when she got some mysterious island sickness. We didn’t make her drink it of course, but we climbed to the top of the tree just to obtain the water so she could pretend to drink it; after which she was immediately healed. We played this for hours… I even put Megaman 2 on hold so that we could play… and my NES-time was severely limited back then, so that was a BIG DEAL.

In middle school, I was talking with my friend Tara who still had a sister in elementary school. At some point we were like, “hey, remember when we used to make stuff up?” We both agreed that it was the most fun thing in the world, and then questioned why we hadn’t done it lately. “Would we still enjoy it?” we wondered… so we went into the yard with her sister and attempted to make up scenarios and play as we did just a few years prior… but it just wasn’t fun anymore. It was a sad realization; for both of us I think.

After that, I never had fun playing like that again. I had forgotten how.

But after watching Monster Camp it suddenly occurred to me… these people whom I had been imitating in jest, who go out into the woods dressed as elves and mages, throwing lightning bolts and using healing potions… these people remember how. They remember how to have fun playing like we did as kids. And at that point, I became intrigued with live action role playing. I became intrigued with the adults who were actually able to suspend reality in order to relive that fantasy that all children experience and invariably forget once they grow up.

So I decided to write a LARP. Well, not a real one… there was no battle system or throwing of lightning bolts… but there was a story with characters who had latent conflicts, a central objective, a giant feast with plastic gold goblets, and a handful of mini-games. Oh, and one of our characters had to pretend that he was raised by bears.

As this was the first time I’d ever run an event of this nature, I found that there were definitely some kinks that I’d want to iron out if I ever did this again (especially in terms of how late everyone ended up having to stay awake). But beyond that, I was amazed by how many people came dressed in creative costumes, got into their characters, and seemed to actually have a good time. I don’t think we quite reached the level of “suspending reality” in the way that the people from Monster Camp did, but that’s okay. For now I’m just focused on creating an environment where people can come and have fun, play games, and goof around for a few hours.

Perhaps someday though, I will remember.

laura shigihara, george fan, dylan librande
me (yes, Laura Shigihara loves head ornaments, haha), “Emperor” George, and Dylan

We were all wearing our costumes when we went outside in the middle of the night to do an “Alchemy Relay” that culminated in dropping mentos into diet coke.

Preparing the mentos…

The players were discussing clues… (At Norolond, who left behind a black pouch with a ninja star, bay leaf, and black sea salt inside?)

Dan (the Imperial doctor), Lindsey (the head of the Economic Council), General Tod (head of the Military Council), and Zita (head of the Dragon Riders)

Theresa… she holds an annual robot fighting competition called “Theresa’s Mech Wars”

I think the plastic gold goblets were my favorite part.

One good natured Siberian Lynx

May 4, 2010 at 11:41 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 23 Comments
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So a few weeks back George took me to a place called “Vision Quest” for my birthday. It’s basically a big animal reserve; a lot of the animals there had been abused or abandoned at a young age, but were later rescued and brought there to live. There’s also a few animals who have done work for Hollywood, either starring in films or acting as models for animators.

As part of our tour, we got to hang out with a Siberian Lynx. Amazingly, she’s about the size of a Golden Lab, and she’s incredibly easy going and friendly. Her trainers explained that she was bottle fed and socialized with humans early on… additionally, she’s just remarkably good natured for a Siberian Lynx. I love how she’s sticking out her tongue in this picture

George Fan, Laura Shigihara, Siberian Lynx

And this one…

I was under the impression that this type of wildcat wouldn’t purr, but she purred just like a domestic cat… only louder… and she continued to purr the entire time we saw her.

She kind of went nuts on the grass… she couldn’t stop eating it. All the domestic cats I’ve known have been the same way… my first cat loved eating grass.
George Fan, Laura Shigihara, Siberian Lynx

Besides hanging out with a Lynx, we also bathed an elephant… it was like washing a really really big car that occasionally looked back at you with giant onyx eyes. The elephants all hang out in this wide open area occupied by a zebra and a couple ostriches. One of the ostriches decided to dance for George…

I was a bit disappointed to find out that he wasn’t actually trying to woo George with a mating dance… we later learned that it was a territorial dance meant to warn us. He also might have been showing off to the lady ostrich as if to say, “This is my territory, I will protect us!”

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