Welcome to the first OSV review of the monthly video game music arrangement competition Dwelling of Duels (DoD). This competition has a few major rules: each song must be (unless otherwise specified) greater in length than two minutes and the primary instrument(s) (there must be at least one) be live-played. Backing tracks that are sequenced are permitted.
Having recently celebrated it’s 10th anniversary and still going strong, there should be no shortage of material to get down and dirty with. The structure of the content may change from time to time but for this first article, let’s hit it with a review of each song.
Also worth noting: if you tend to listen to only the top 3 songs or so, you’re missing out on some incredible music! (you’re also “doing it wrong.”)
Having said that, here we go!
, Dwelling of Duels
, Quantum Shot
One of the things that’s been a growing issue for me with Triple A games is the method in which orchestral music is used. There’s been a tendency in recent years to have the music of these games mimic the scores of big budget hollywood movies. The approach certainly works for certain types of games, but the pervasiveness of this trend has gotten to the point of being cliche. I’m all for dark, dramatic, and symphonic music finding an audience through games. The problem for me has been that it has become an over-saturated genre.
Luckily, a few soundtracks have come out that spice up the tonal palate of their orchestral music. One such soundtrack from this past generation was the Rayman Origins OST. While it was orchestral and had some dramatic moments, it also had a signature sound. Written by composers Christophe Heral and Billy Martin, the soundtrack was lively, eclectic, and was the breath of fresh air that the orchestral soundtrack genre needed. It wasn’t long before the game’s sequel, Rayman Legends, came about and both composers returned for the second round. In this review I’ll be looking at the Rayman Legends OST and examining how they’ve improved things and how well the music works with the game. Read on to find out more. (more…)
Tags: Billy Martin
, Christophe Heral
, Rayman Legends
If you happen to be one of the lucky people able to swipe a badge for PAX East next month in Boston, you probably know it’s a big deal to spend your time wisely at such a huge event. Why not take in a panel dedicated to music composers and their craft?
“Maestros of Video Games” panel will feature a bunch of notable game composers from across several well known titles and genres such as Garry Schyman (Bioshock Infitnite, Dante’s Inferno, Destroy All Humans), Cris Valesco (Mass Effect 3, Borderlands, God of War series), Peter McConnell (Broken Age, Psychonauts, Sly Cooper series) and several more and they share their experiences in the industry and their works on some of the biggest franchises in gaming.
The panel will be on Saturday, April 12th at 12:30pm in the Condor Theatre. Be sure to check it out!
Tags: Billy Martin
, Cris Valesco
, Garry Schyman
, Mark Morgan
, PAX East 2014
, Peter McConnell
, Tom Salta
The team behind the fantastic World 1-2 and World 1-2: Encore collaboration albums, has just announced the release date for their next compilation album, IN FLUX, set to debut on March 4, 2014. The album, overseen by Mega Man and upcoming Might no.9 composer Manami Matsumae, will feature a diverse selection of music genres from chip music to electronica to metal from a menagerie of notable composers and artists such as Saori Kobayashi (of Panzer Dragoon Saga), Keiji Yamagishi (of Ninja Gaiden) and Akira Yamaoka (of Silent Hill) from Japan; Stemage (of Metroid Metal), Tim McCord (of Evanescence) and several more!
Brave Wave Productions president and IN FLUX director Mohammed Taher comments,
“Instead of replicating what we did with World 1-2, we went in a new and inventive direction: having the Japanese and Western composers collaborate. The album isn’t exclusive to this idea, but we have a number of tracks where it’s this eccentric mix of more than one composer contributing significantly to a track, leaping over the language gap and creating music that matters.”
The album will retail for $10 on Bandcamp with a limited edition digipak for $15, and $12 on iTunes. The physical copies have been pressed in limited quantities and will be available to purchase in person at Bit Summit MMXIV in Kyoto, Japan in March 7-9, as well as online at: http://store.bravewave.net
Tags: Bit Summit
, Brave Wave Productions
, IN FLUX
, Manami Matsumae
, World 1-2
Castlevania has gone through the gauntlet of interpretations and variations throughout its near-30 year tenure, and its music has always been a huge part of that diversity. From the upbeat catchy 8-bit bleeps of the NES titles to the haunting atmosphere of Super Castlevania 4; from the pop-oriented tunes of Rondo of Blood/Dracula X to the orchestral and symphonic tones used in Symphony of the Night and Lament of Innocence. To say the series had a menagerie of different styles of music would be an understatement, but somehow the music always seemed to work for the game it was composed for.
The first Lords of Shadow game took a different approach with its style of music. Mercurysteam and director Dave Cox had put Oscar Araujo (Animated film Ed Cid) at the helm of incorporating a different kind of soundtrack for the different kind of Castlevania game they were making. As Jayson summed up in his review of the first game’s soundtrack, the new direction being taken was fresh and some tracks were interesting, but in the end it was too big a departure from previous series titles to make it feel like it was really a Castlevania game and was instead simply its own stand-alone Lords of Shadow soundtrack. Indeed, it was a subject of much debate in the Castlevania fan community whether the music of the game helped or hindered its attempt at being both a Castlevania title and also its own creature. The sub-series’ interquel, Mirror of Fate, didn’t do much to quell the arguments.
With this kind of contention as well as Mercurysteam’s assurance that Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 would have many of the shortcomings of the first game tweaked, does this third game in the series manage to capture the old feel of past Castlevanias? Or does it again fall short of its potential?
, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2
, Oscar Araujo
, Videogame Soundtracks
New work from Sam “Shnabubula” Ascher-Weiss came out today, and it’s quite a listen! The soundtrack for the game based off of the webshow Continue?” features a delightful mixture of chiptunes and comes at the even more delightful Name-Your-Price structure on Bandcamp. The 11-track album is exactly what you would expect a Contra-styled soundtrack to sound like, complete with high-energy pieces such as “Whirlpool Battle” and “Alien War-Machines”.
If you like some Shnabubula in your life and need some awesome chiptunes for your ride into work tomorrow, why not grab Continue? Philly Under Fire‘s OST and enjoy some great oldschool jams?
, Continue? Phill Under Fire
, Samuel Ascher-Weiss
Every so often a game concept comes along that grabs our attention. A new music game called Circuits has done just that. Developed by the studio Digital Tentacle, Circuits is a puzzle game that asks you to reconstruct a piece of music. In the gameplay video shown below, composer David Garcia walks the viewer through an early level of the game. Different nodes of the circuits represent patterns, rhythms, and instrument melodies that make up the piece of music. Essentially, each node is a piece of the puzzle. The task of the player is to assemble each node in the correct spot on the circuit board to reproduce the full and finished piece. You not only have to worry about the order of the music’s individual elements, you must also make sure you repeat the nodes the correct number of times.
From the looks of it, a lot of the game will rely on the player’s listening abilities, in addition to their puzzle solving skills. The game was recently Greenlit by members of the Steam community and will hopefully make progress to an eventual release on the platform. The game was also released recently on the iPad. It’s definitely an interesting game concept. Hopefully it can find an audience in the puzzle and music game crowd.
, David Garcia
, Digital Tentacle
With the help of Kickstarter, another chiptune album has been brought into existence. Most people probably know Jimmy Hinson (a.k.a Big Giant Circles) and his music from games like Mass Effect 2 and Call of Duty Black Ops 2. It might surprise some people that in addition to the game music he writes, he also composes chiptunes. This latest album, The Glory Days, is a new collection of original pieces written by Hinson. The Glory Days was funded through a very successful Kickstarter campaign that far exceeded its original goal. Not only did the Kickstarter hit the goal of $5,000, but every single stretch goal was met as well. The Kickstarter receiving over $60,000 in pledges, allowing Big Giant Circles to hire several remixers and fellow game composers to help construct an extra remix album for release at a later date.
The Glory Days is a sequel to Hinson’s first album of original music, Impostor Nostalgia. This original album was a collection of music written by Hinson and featured several music remixers and composers. The concept behind Impostor Nostalgia was that while the music mimicked the sound and energy of chiptunes from older videogames, the music itself was original work that was never featured in any game, past or present. It was a cool experiment and generated some excellent new tunes. This time around, Hinson is flying solo with this sequel album, The Glory Days. Like the first album, this one aims to celebrate the sound of older game tunes while enhancing it with modern synth and electronic sounds that weren’t available years ago. Does Big Giant Circles pull this off on this second solo album? Read more to find out. (more…)
Tags: Austin Wintory
, Big Giant Circles
, Chip Music
, Danny Baranowsky
, Impostor Nostalgia
, Jimmy Hinson
, The Glory Days
, Videogame music
If you’re a fan of MMORPGs and the music associated with them, this might just tickle your fancy. The Korean game Monarch: Heroes of a New Age features a gorgeous orchestral soundtrack and an accompanying arrangement album that is sure to please fans of sweeping score and memorable melodies.
Korean composer Goomin “Nauts” Nam, who composed for games like the drink mixing sim game Bar Oasis, has put together a fantastic and diverse assortment of music to accompany the fantasy MMORPG. If that’s not enough, the arrangement album, Monarch: Heroes of a New Age Arrangements & Variations, features an equally diverse cast of guest arrangers including Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater composer Norihiko Hibino and pianist AYAKI, as well as arrangements from Dale North and Joshua Morse. (more…)
, Dale North
, Goomin Nam
, Joshua Morse
, Norihiko Hibino
, Original Soundtrack
With the popularity of indie games and their soundtracks growing, there has also been a surge in arrangements and remixes of these works. In fact there have been a few new arrangers who focus on indie soundtracks specifically. One of these emerging artists is Brent Kennedy. His previous albums include arrangements for Danny Baranowsky’s music for Binding of Isaac and Super Meat Boy. Kennedy’s specialty is solo piano arrangements. His writing style can be best described as impressionist (think Debussy or Ravel) with a small dose of minimalist writing thrown in the mix. The covered tracks can vary from energetic and climactic to calm and relaxing. In this latest album, he once again demonstrates a similar musical range.
Unlike his previous work, this newest arrange album, titled Indie Game Rhapsodies, takes a sampling of different indie game soundtracks. The composers covered include Big Giant Circles, Alec Holowka, Jeff Ball, and Austin Wintory. The soundtracks being drawn from are an eclectic selection. Some are chiptune soundtracks, while others are originally orchestral. Kennedy takes each of these selections and transforms them into relaxing and mesmerizing solo piano pieces. The result is a collection of tracks that showcases some excellent game music, while presenting a more classical take on the material. (more…)
Tags: Alec Holowka
, Arrange Album
, Austin Wintory
, Ben Prunty
, Big Giant Circles
, Brent Kennedy
, Danny Baranowsky
, Game Music
, Grant Kirkhope
, HyperDuck SoundWorks
, Ian McKinney
, Indie Music
, Jeff Ball
, Josh Whelchel
, Magnus Palsson
At this year’s D.I.C.E. Summit, composer Austin Wintory gave a talk titled “Music’s Rising Tides”. In his presentation, Wintory discusses the emergence of technology that has allowed for the democratization of music writing and distribution. He strikes a very optimistic tone about the ability of creators to put their work out onto the internet and have it recognized. Among examples, he cites his own positive experience with releasing the soundtrack to Journey and his interactions with people who shared the album on Youtube.
Part of what he is encouraged by is the lowering of financial barriers for writing music. To help illustrate his point, he composes a piece of music on stage, using only a laptop computer and a midi keyboard. Making music that is commercially viable is something that has become accessible to more people in recent years, and Wintory sees this as a positive development for the art.
It’s an excellent talk from an experienced member of the videogame and music world. What do you think of the presentation? Do you agree that the ease of access to music making is a positive thing, or is it causing the market to be over-saturated with too much noise?
Tags: Austin Wintory
, D.I.C.E. Summit
, Game Music
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There are plenty of chip music makers out there these days. I have respect for all of them — it’s difficult work, to be sure. But one person I especially admire is Chipzel. She broke onto the scene when she wrote the three-track OST for Super Hexagon. But she has plenty of original works out there too.
The latest among them is Spectra, released in September 2013. This full-length album was created entirely in LSDJ, so it’s pure Game Boy goodness. The nature of this album? I think the headline gives it away, but if you want a detailed report, as well as where you can pick up the album, keep reading!
, Game Boy