You might remember hearing about 8Bit Music Power last November. The collaborative chiptune album has the distinction of being released exclusively for the Famicom console. Though not an official Nintendo product, Japanese accessory manufacturer, Columbus Circle, has matched the real deal with a gorgeous full color box and reproduction cartridge.
The 12-track album contains original songs by several Japanese game and chiptune composers under the direction of producer and illustrator, Riki. Contributors include Omodaka (Ape Escape), Masahiro Kajihara (Triggerheart Excelica), Takeaki Kunimoto (Star Soldier), Yuriko Keino (Dig Dug), Saitone, Hiroaki Sano (Triangle Heart), Nobuyuki Shioda (Summer Carnival ’92), Professor Sakamoto, Tappy (Tokimeki Memorial), Hally (Mighty Gunvolt) and Keishi Yonao (Asuka 120%). The cart’s pixelart graphics were created with the help of Hiroshi Ono, artist on some of gaming’s classic arcade titles like Pac Man, Galaga, Dig Dug and Mappy.
We’ve known the details for a while but the big news of the day is that 8Bit Music Power… is out. The first thousand cartridges produced are on sale now through Amazon Japan and Play-Asia will have them ready to ship worldwide on January 31st. Click inside to check out the full tracklist, a preview of the album and more.
Whether you grew up with a computer in the ’80s, pirated a copy of Photoshop in the 2000s or ran a benchmark on a video card last year, you’ve come into contact with a cracktro in one form or another. Also called a Crack Intro or Loader, these screens were first appended to pirated software in the late 70s and early 80s by the groups that cracked them. They served as digital graffiti, a way for the cracking “crew” to stake their claim, brag about their accomplishments and shout out to friends and rivals.
As such they rapidly evolved into ever more elaborate feats of visual programming until some coders detached their efforts from the shadier side of things. By 1986 the movement became known as the Demoscene and would later inspire benchmarking software to find dazzling ways to tax computer hardware. The legacy of the cracktro would also be carried on beyond the 90s in the form of keygens; tiny programs that generate serial keys for pirated software.
Wrapped up in that thirty year history is the music that accompanied the illicit cracktros, trainers and keygens, some of which outmatched the games they were attached to. While crews have left their calling cards on virtually every platform, this playlist (which can’t be embedded here) by YouTuber Zeusdaz features solely the Amiga. So prolific was the cracking scene back then that even this incomplete collection clocks in at an astounding eight and a half hours. It serves as a great intro to cracktros, offers a time capsule-like glimpse into the scene and it was even captured directly from a real Amiga. No emulation from Zeusdaz! It’s also a convenient playlist to pop on for quick audio/visual party ambiance.
Tracking down the coding composers behind these tunes is an even more daunting challenge and one I’d like to dig into… someday. For now I’ll point curious parties to Wikipedia, Cracktros.org, SceneMusic and Kestra Bitworld to see how deep the cracktro hole goes. I can’t remember any by name but there are definitely some cracktros and keygens I would repeatedly load up just to listen to. What about you? Any memorable crack or trainer tunes? Do you know another good source for even more cracktro themes? Let us know below.
Disclaimer: Original Sound Version does not endorse software piracy for the sake of listening to cracktros, no matter how cool their music might be.
The ZEN ALBATROSS is different from your average albatross. You see, the ancient mariner has nothin’ on him. Nor do invasive government spy agencies. Confused yet? You need to get to know ZEN ALBATROSS then. This bird is a master of cryptography, and he is also good at dodging the slings and arrows of would-be seafaring jerk wads.
My single favorite chip music album from 2010 was a double-single featuring “Mastada Gestalt” and “April 10,” both songs by ZEN ALBATROSS. Since then, we’ve heard precious little from him. Now he’s back with a new EP (almost 30 minutes long), which you can get digitally or on cassette tape via the artist’s Bandcamp page.
This new EP, “SIGINT,” is a head trip from start to finish. Interested in the finer details? Keep on reading… (more…)
Coming to you horribly later than the rest of my compatriots, I feel it still necessary to cast my vote on the VGM releases of 2015. So much came out last year that was notable that it’s hard to settle on any one thing. Fortunately, my fellow OSV writers have touched upon the best of things, so it’s a matter of following up on their fantastic lists with my own.
Keiji Yamagishi’s Retro-Active was originally planned as an overarching, three-album journey to be released across 2015. While we got the first installment on February 5th with Retro-Active Pt. 1 the follow up has taken a bit longer than expected. One year, to be exact.
Brave Wave has revealed that Retro-Active Pt. 2 will be released on February 5th, 2016 bringing listeners back to Yamagishi’s “futuristic emotional chiptunes world”. Along with new solo tracks the famed Famicom/NES composer will be teaming up with Ninja Gaiden II composer Ryuichi Nitta. The first track from the album, “Chaotic Code”, will be released on January 14th to give listeners a taste of Part 2’s sound in advance of the full album release on February 5th.
For now we’ll have to settle for the new album art above which is a continuation from Part 1. That’ll make for one sweet panorama once the final part is released. Are you excited to finally hear Retro-Active Pt. 2? Did you pick up the original album or the remix album? Let us know in the comments below.
Prolific electronic composer, Shiryu, has had one helluva year. I’ve seen his name and new releases on almost every visit I’ve made to Bandcamp’s video game page over the months. From original works to commemorative albums and themed compilations of his existing tracks (like Age of Shmup, Age of Ninja and Age of Vampire) he’s released more music in 2015 than anyone else I’ve seen.
He’s capped it off with Melodies from Video Games Past, a 12-track commission project that spiraled to 50 songs with over 2 hours of music. Included are all-new arrangements of fan favorites including Turrican, Street Fighter, Agony, Metroid, Sonic, Axelay, F-Zero, Galaxy Force and so many more.
“If you are familiar with my precious “Shiryu’s Arcade” ten LP project, you will recognize most of these tracks, but please note they were all made from scratch for this special release. Yep, these fifty tracks are all baked fresh! Even if this was a commission LP for someone, I want to publicly state that I refused payment. I’m not making anything out of this except for the coins people give me over [on] Bandcamp.
I just want everyone who listens to it get some nostalgic goose bump and get reminded some awesome memories of simpler times. Hope you enjoy listening as much as I enjoyed making it. Happy holidays and… see in 2016?”
To further extend the holiday cheer, Shiryu’s offering up a 50% discount on all of his sprawling Bandcamp discography. Just use the promo code “shiryu_is_xmas_king” on checkout. The code is good from now through January 4th, 2016.
Chiptune artist and overall talented guy Samuel “Shnabubula” Ascher-Weiss has put his entire bandcamp discography on sale for the holidays, at a discount of 90% off the total of all 18 of his albums. Having released his newest album Sued for Christmas (I’m hoping that’s not the actual reason for the sale but we don’t judge here), which features his own spin on Christmas classics, he posted the following within the album’s page:
Please do not pay for this album. Upon the suggestion of a close friend I recorded and uploaded an album that has a price so that I can get in on all of the fun of releasing my entire discography at a discount!!!!<+100 more exclamation points> – Shnabubula
His previous albums feature a bevy of chiptune music inspired by oldschool NES and SNES tunes such as SNESology, as well as composing for indie games such as Americana Dawn. You can check out his entire music library and grab yourself some fun music for the season.
Chiptune fans now have something they can put on their holiday wish list. (Or ever gift to other fans!) Chiptunes = WIN has not only released a holiday compilation album, but they’ve also teamed up with other chiptune artists and Groupees to create the Bundle of WIN combo sale.
That’s right! As of Noon Eastern today (Monday, Dec 7th), we’re presenting you with the fantastic holiday opportunity to grab not only a brand spankin’ new 10 track ChipWIN compilation, ‘Bundle of WIN‘, but also 10+ albums from all of the artists involved in the comp! And everything provided through the fantastic folks at Groupees.com!
That not enough? Alrighty then. How about we include a bundle of awesome bonuses?? The more folk give in total, the more delightful bonuses that’ll unlock for all donors! Not to mention three really cool prizes for the top three donors. Yup. All that’s in this beautiful bundle!
On top of that, how about the chance to donate a percentage of your monies to everyone’s favorite fest that’s not a con, MAGFest?? Okay then. We’ll do that too! –Brandon L Hood aka “President Hoodie”
Like with all other Chiptunes = WIN albums, all sales are reinvested into the chiptune community and future projects, and in this case will include gaming and music event MAGFest. Two dollars nets you the basic bundle of 11 albums featuring a bevy of chiptune artists such as CarboHydroM and Auxcide, with additional proceeds unlocking bonuses. The sale lasts until December 22.
[Disclaimer: The writer affirms outside friendships with the chiptune community, unbeholden to the purpose of the post. Because who doesn’t want to support more chiptunes?]
London-based partygoers recovering from this past weekend’s #SEGASaturday event have just a few days to prepare for another one. Joypad and VICE Gaming have announced Super Warehouse, a “collaborative music meets indie and retro gaming” party happening at London’s Hoxton Arches on Saturday, December 5th.
EDM and Chiptune accompaniment will be provided by FAIK, Sega Bodega, Shirobon and Slugabed with live, interactive visuals courtesy of VJ Yourself. Adding to the audio/visual mayhem of the night will be Robin Baumgarten’s uniquely physical “1D dungeon crawler”, Line Wobbler. There’ll be plenty of indie games on hand thanks to publisher Devolver Digital who will also be bringing two unreleased games to play.
For retro fans the organizers have crafted a novel, interactive way to play a huge assortment of 8, 16, and 32-bit games from Nintendo, Sega and Sony; by live request. Attendees can tweet the name of a game they’d like to play using the #superwarehouse hashtag and the Joypad staff will load it up and call it out as gameplay rotates throughout the night.
Advanced tickets are available now through Eventbrite for £11.45 and like #SEGASaturday, let us know how it was if you’re in the area and attend! For those of us not in the same town, continent or hemisphere we can, at least, grab a free half-hour mix by FAIK made exclusively for Super Warehouse. It is a wonderfully appropriate mash up of beats, drops and video game samples.
It only takes two to make a trend, right? If that phrase I just coined holds true then it’s been a trendy year for old school game composers making a return to form through the medium of Outrun-inspired mobile racing games. First it was Motohiro Kawashima — lead composer on Streets of Rage 3 — returning for the trippy PlayStation Mobile racer, Oh Deer! (also my first post on OSV). Most recently it’s Barry Leitch, composer of such classic racing games as Top Gear, Lotus Turbo Challenge 2, and the San Francisco Rush series.
Leitch has returned after years away from video game music to provide the soundtrack to — wait for it — a new Outrun-inspired mobile racing game. Horizon Chase has been out on iOS since August but it’s just come to Android which is where I discovered it and its fantastic music. Fans of Top Gear should be especially pleased both with the gameplay and soundtrack. Dodging competitors over undulating terrain and tearing through rolling corners, the music is perfect accompaniment. Leitch’s characteristic arpeggio melodies are updated with modern synths, tinny guitars and just a touch of dubstep. The pacing is perfect and the sound is both new and delightfully cracktro — err, retro.
Leitch sums it up in a recent Kill Screen article by saying, “the stuff I wrote now is the same as back then, but this is finally how I imagined it sounding in my head 20 years ago. Two decades later, you can finally get the music to sound like how you wanted it.”
It’s a bit of a shame that the races aren’t marathon length to give these songs more time to jam. Fortunately, there’s a soundtrack for that, created by Leitch himself and available in physical form from his site. With fifteen tracks and 59 minutes of music it’s one of the longest soundtracks I’ve seen for a mobile game and comes complete with full color liner notes and artwork for $20. I already picked up the game but I just might have to grab the CD as well to keep this fantastic music playing.
Back at the end of July Brave Wave announced the Generation Series that aims to remaster beloved, out of print and incomplete game music in excruciating quality. The first (and so far, only) album announced is Street Fighter II: The Definitive Soundtrack which is planned for release before the end of the year.
Since our original post Brave Wave have gone on to reveal some more details on the release. The album art has been updated (seen above), the playlist will include a staggering 100+ tracks encompassing the CPS1 and CPS2 versions of the soundtrack and the CD release will come on three discs. As previously reported, both the CD and vinyl versions will feature liner notes from original composer Yoko Shimomura and Polygon.com’s Matt Leone.
More importantly, they’ve released the eight comparison tracks embedded above that should give you an immediate appreciation for the work they’ve put into the album so far. On their vision for the new sound of Street Fighter, sound engineer Marco Guardia told Polygon, “We were trying to strike a balance between staying true to the song and it being authentic. We didn’t want to go overboard and mess with the sound to a degree that it sounds nothing like it used to.”
Take a listen for yourself and check out that Polygon article while you’re at it; there are some insights into Brave Wave’s process and the story behind the album’s origins.
GameChops has just released a follow up to Joshua Morse’s spectacular 2013 Castlevania tribute album, VLAD, appropriately titled VLAD II. Like the original, VLAD II features four tracks of EDM chiptune/jazz fusion, this time with guest guitarist, Danimal Cannon, on two tracks. You can sample all four songs in the teaser video or listen over on bandcamp and check out the track listing below.
VLAD II is out now and available to buy from Loudr.fm for a minimum price of $4; just in time to pump up your Halloween week festivities. And for a limited time you can get both VLAD albums for a minimum of $7.