So there once was a game called Tetris. It was a captivating and innovative puzzle game that took simple block-in-hole concepts and a few 8-bit tunes and just ran with it. There have since been dozens of varieties and variations of the game in the past 25+ years.
Then you have Globulous from Canadian indie game producer Firestarter Games. Not only does it take the basic concepts of Tetris and rev them up with 3D graphics and spherical gameplay, but the music of the game has been given the royal treatment with fresh and original sounds from Mass Effect 3 violinist Jeff Ball and Soul Calibur V composer Andrew “Zircon” Aversa. With such a team of effective melody maestros, Globulous manages to set itself apart from several of the other Tetris-clones of the gaming world with classy beats and ambient resonance.
Sit back and don’t let the colorful moving blocks distract you from enjoying the atmospheric themes of Globulous after the cut.
The game’s soundtrack is very hard to describe in words rather than passive daydreaming whilst listening (you can do that too, of course). Aversa himself does well to introduce the concepts behind the music he and Ball designed to flow within Globulous:
The soundtrack was inspired by retro classics like Secret of Mana, Final Fantasy VI and Donkey Kong Country, mixed with modern organic soundtracks such as Bastion and Machinarium. The goal was to create interesting, evolving atmospheres throughout the 45+ minute score, which get progressively more rhythmic and tense as the game increases in difficulty.
Certainly achieving the atmospheric feel that nearly ever track seems to be injected with, the individual tracks do start off slow and subdued. “Cliff Sine” begins things with slow piano work and percussion that reminds me a lot of the majority of the work on another puzzle-game, Hexic. If I had to say anything negative about the entire album, it would be right here, as the tune itself is so subdued it almost lulls you to sleep (again, much like Hexic, but that’s just me).
Thankfully, “Snow Delta” begins picking things up, and this is where the rhythm really becomes noticeable, as well as the beat with light string synths that blend well. “Vapor Radian” is probably my favorite pick of the soundtrack, with Ball’s keyboard melody breaking the tune up perfectly amongst a sea of harpsichord, putting out a dynamic sound that I can’t help but love.
Aversa really brings out the chiptune essence of oldschool puzzle games with “Stone Clockwise,” paying tribute to the originators of the genre. Conversely, Mr. Ball delivers with lounge-room beats in “Cavern Omega,” and switches from jazzy styles to more ambient melody in “Glass Lattice.”
Things really take a turn with “Rain Node,” which is another favorite of mine and my top pick among Aversa’s compositions for the soundtrack. It starts giving you that sense of urgency with the tempo being faster than most of the previous songs along with solid piano arpeggios complemented with flute samples to bring out the foreground. Break out your fast thumbs, because things have gotten real.
“Cocoon Altitude” reminds me of Sky Sanctuary Zone from Sonic & Knuckles, with its use of fading synths and airy feel to the melody when you get into the meat of the song. It starts powerfully with its keyboard work, and glides right into flute accompaniment which brings about thoughts the aforementioned speedy hedgehog game. “Thicket Prism” is where you really hear Ball’s violin and string prowess shine through as he and Aversa combine talents to make a composition that sounds straight out of a folksy-fantasy film. I honestly can’t get enough of Jeff’s violin work, and it shows up against for the duo’s other pair-up in the second half of “Aurora Magnitude” and brings things together superbly, proving the effective results of the collaboration of these two composers.
Globulous is readily available for purchase on the iPhone for a nominal fee, while the OST is up on Bandcamp and happily awaiting download for $7. For a relaxing album that’s both complex and ambient whilst toiling away at brain-teasing functions, the price will be worth it.Tags: Andrew Aversa, Firestarter Games, Globulous, Indie Games, Jeff Ball, Puzzle, Review, Reviews, Soundtrack, zircon