The original PlayStation may have celebrated its 20th anniversary last December in Japan, but for me — an American teenager at the time — it’s September 9th, 1995 that I remember most fondly. Even before the console was out it was turning me on to new music. The “Hear it Now, Play it Later” demo disc I got for pre-ordering the console introduced me to the likes of Korn, Mother May I and Dag and even included uncredited tracks from Tommy Tallarico. After the launch it was a constant stream of new favorites with soundtracks in every style represented.
But just like Sony’s push to bypass 2D games and focus on the PlayStation’s polygonal power, there wasn’t a lot of classic 16-bit style music to be heard. Some developers did choose to render their music with the PlayStation sound hardware but the cool factor of “CD Quality Sound” was hard to ignore. It wasn’t exclusive to PlayStation — CD-based consoles had been around for nearly a decade in 1995 — but almost unanimously the sound was more like “real music” than the proverbial “bleeps and bloops” of the games that came before them. That was a powerful moment for gaming’s mainstream acceptance with graphics and music that leapt farther towards reality.
With that in mind it’s a little ironic to hear flagship PlayStation themes done in a chiptune style but it makes for an equally striking testament to how far things have come. That’s what Shiryu has done to commemorate the PlayStation’s 20th anniversary with the album PSXX. It’s a great listen that’s sure to touch at least one PlayStation classic you’ll recognize. I also found myself impressed with renditions of the atmospheric music from Tenchu, Resident Evil and Tomb Raider.
It’s an unexpectedly fitting way to remember the PlayStation on this anniversary of its North American debut and a great remix collection for any other day. PSXX is available now for €4 on Shiryu’s Bandcamp page. If you’d like to reminisce about the days of the PlayStation or just dream up other games you’d love to hear chiptuned, let us know in the comments.
We’re a week away from the start of the MAGClassic (formerly MAGFest 8.5), which is the organization throw-back event meant to capture the smaller and more intimate feel of earlier MAGFest events at the Hilton Alexandria Mark Center hotel in Alexandria, Virginia. Last year’s event seemed to go off well enough to facilitate a repeat event for Fest-goers who favor a smaller and less grand event than MAGFest Prime. This year has a slew of performers, some previous MAGFest staples and some being fresh faces to the event, who will be playing over the course of the three day event. The final line consists of:
The event runs from September 11th – 13th and tickets are still available, so anyone who wants to experience a more subdued MAGFest like the days of yore should think about jumping aboard that hype train.
MAGClassic might prove to be a good alternative to the main MAGFest 2016 (aka: MAGFest XIV) event for some people. Within 24-hours of opening up room reservations at the Gaylord National Harbor, the event’s epicenter, all MAGFest-block rooms sold completely out, and we’ve been informed by MAGFest staff that the initial overflow hotels have also subsequently been completely booked. Fortunately, they assure that more overflow hotels will open up soon, and there’s always the chance of cancellations that will open rooms up across all of the hotels. MAGFest hit an attendance of over 17,000 at this past year’s event, lending weight to the rapid rate of hotel reservations for the upcoming event. Pre-registration for MAG ’16 is currently open at $50 per attendee with group rates available, and price increases by the end of September. I’ve also been informed that new swag will be available for attendees to purchase, both as additions to their registration and at the event itself, and any and all donations to the event are now tax-deductable with the organization’s new non-profit status, with funds going towards improving and supporting the event and helping its staff and many volunteers.
We’ll keep everyone posted with any big MAGFest news that pops up within the next few months. Band and guest announcements should start popping up within the next month or so, and we anxiously await to see what’s in store for what might be the biggest MAGFest event yet.
Will you be attending MAGFest 2016 or MAGClassic? What would you like to see at either event? Let us know in the comments!
Back at E3 in June Konami rolled out a new trailer for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain featuring one of my favorite New Order songs, “Elegia”. The dark and brooding instrumental 80’s synth/rock track is like nothing else I’ve heard from the group and it fits the themes of Metal Gear Solid V perfectly. I suppose you could also read way into the Konami news and find some irony that the last trailer directed by Hideo Kojima is set to a song that is literally titled ‘elegy’.
Now imagine for a minute that Big Boss were to find a Game Boy in his latest adventure and, in true Metal Gear fashion, it contained an eerily prescient 8-bit stealth action game. Then surely the music in that game would be none other than this chiptune version of “Elegia” from Taylor and Sinner Fox Studios. It’s every bit as haunting as New Order’s original with minimal instrumentation, a nice crackly low end and an indeterminate array of chiptune sounds. No, this literally wouldn’t be coming out of a Game Boy or any other console I could identify.
The track isn’t a final version either and comes from the mini-album “Quantum”, a collection of “scraps” from Taylor’s unfinished project. You can grab “New Order – Elegia(Koneko’s Chip. Ver)” along with the title track “Quantum” for as little as you want (including free) over on Bandcamp. With The Phantom Pain so close I couldn’t help but share this track and imagine how it might fit into the crazy meta-meta-verse of Metal Gear Solid.
The latest in a slew of content being released by Random: aka. Mega Ran leading up to the released of his new album RNDM features a music video with geek rock band D&D Sluggers, as well as 3D animation recreations by artist Benjamin Sutherland of classic game environments such as Mega Man 2, Sonic the Hedgehog and Super Mario World.
The new album and several package bundles drops on September 15th and will include 16 tracks, as well as a bonus track of the credits to the (eventual) game Mighty no.9 featuring a collaboration with Castlevania composer Michiru Yamane.
The music label Ubiktune has recently released a new chip album by artist Fluidvolt called Clay Memory. The album features a compilation of over 300 instruments organized into soundfonts, and based around the style of the GBA game, Mother 3.
After Bregalad created his fantastic program GBA Mus Riper, it’s been possible to dump Mother 3‘s sounds into a massive soundfont of 1668(!) instruments. – Fluidvolt
Condensing the soundfont by weeding out unneeded instruments and splitting others, Fluidvolt managed to create soundfonts with which he used to create his album, and will be featuring them bundled in with purchase.
You can find more information on the album on Ubiktune’s release announcement. The album is currently available on Fluidvolt’s Bandcamp for whatever price you deem fit. If you’re a fan of the music of Mother 3, or of Fluidvolt’s previous album, Reflections of a Dancing Leaf, then Clay Memory is worth checking out.
The classic, simple sounds of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) from the era of 8-bit video game music are for many, including myself, very nostalgic and heartwarming. This is where it all began! Video games have come so far from these original beeps and boops; now there are live orchestras performing this music, sometimes in the game itself, and they even tour around the world to perform. Many people love these sounds and music for the memories they hold, but even so, they may not want to listen to them regularly when they’re not playing these games. And if you play an original NES tune for anyone who doesn’t have similar cherished memories of sitting around playing video games while their mothers begged them to go outside, they’ll probably cringe at the cacophony of fake, electronic noise that you’re subjecting them to. Chances are they will be bewildered that anyone would enjoy such a thing or find value in it, even if they’re too polite to say so.
I am one of the folks who believes that there is a lot to be admired about the music from the 8-bit era of video games, and I believe that there is a lot that contemporary composers can learn from this body of work. If you listen closely, you can hear how composers writing for the NES learned to treat these sounds as instruments, not just sounds, and how they managed to create music, instead of just noise.
Just released on Steam on July 17, 2015 Interstellaria is a real time space-exploration sim and crew management game where you can command a fleet of vessels wandering the galaxy for adventure and profit. “Every star and planet holds untold riches and dangers. Each encounter will require skills in trading, diplomacy, and combat. Allocate power to engines, charge all weapons, and take on the worst the galaxy has to handle.”
The music for the game was written by the very talented Niamh Houston, known as Chipzel and is available for purchase on bandcamp. Since its release many supporters have given it rave reviews:
This ost is a gem on its own. The varied musical themes take you on a roundtrip across the galaxy. Favorite track: Sakari. – Supporter, Niels VermeulenThe soundtrack for Interstellaria is, well, STELLAR. Seriously. It’s like FTL and Super Hexagon had a baby, and it is awesome. Also, it was ridiculously hard to choose between Xiwang and Annihilation as a “favorite track”, seriously. Favorite track: Xiwang. – Supporter, Blazing Glaceon
My only experience with Chipzel’s music was the track “Menacing Wonders” he provided for Brave Wave’s hit album In Flux.
I’m still listening to the album but so far my favorite track is the final track on the album “Somnolence” which has a scratching vinyl lullaby sound.
The album is available now on bandcamp for 5 pounds, just under $8.00 US. The soundtrack can also be purchased as a DLC with the game on Steam. Have you played Intersellaria and experienced Chipzel’s music in the game? Let us know what you think!
If you’re a fan of the Chiptunes = WIN nation and albums, then you’ll be happy to learn that their fourth album has officially been released!
Chiptunes = WIN: Volume 4 continues the tradition started three years ago by Brandon “President Hoodie” Hood to create a community of chiptune artists and enthusiasts that are able to gather, create and critique the art of making chip music.
“Volume 4?? VOLUME 4!! 3+ years after the first comp and we’re still having a blast! Thus onward & upward it goes! ^_^ \m|♥♥♥♥|m/ “ -President Hoodie
The current incarnation features a whopping 51 tracks featuring a plethora of new and old chiptune artists, including CarboHydroM, Auxcide, Phonetic Hero and a ton more. The whole album was mastered by DJ Cutman, with all proceeds staying internal and going towards the production of future albums. This fourth full edition is the 12th album in the Chiptunes = WIN library, all of which serve as compilations from the chip community and beyond.
Chiptunes = WIN: Volume 4 is at a name-your-price purchase level, with a special limited bundle pack available at $25 for the diehard enthusiast. You can learn more about Chiptunes = WIN and join in the chip madness on the community’s blog.
Is it time to load up on some chiptune albums? Groupees has launched their seventh Chiptune + Charity bundle and for as little as $3 you can nab ten albums from Bignic, Shirobon, Monomer, Glenntai, Zalza, MisfitChris, MmcM, Note!, Zabutom and Xyce. There are also some bonuses to be had, the first of which is a live streaming performance by Glenntai for those who buy the bundle. The second bonus (yet to be unlocked) is a live performance by Zabutom.
I’m always up for more music from Bignic but I admit, I’m not familiar with many of the other groups. The samples sound pretty good, though, especially Monomer and Shirobon. What about you? Any favorites in this bundle or are you stumbling into this with me?
The passing of Nintendo president and CEO Satoru Iwata has hit a lot of gaming fans hard, but has also inspired a plethora of dedications and tributes to the man who was known by so many as a kind man and the heart of Nintendo Japan. One of those dedications comes from none other than Metroid composer Hirokazu “Hip” Tanaka, who has created his own fitting memorial to the late Iwata in his own unique way; a cheerful chiptune piece to reflect the equally cheerful nature of the man who touched the lives of so many gamers of our generation.
Rest in Peace, Mr. Iwata. You’ve had an impact on all the facets of the gaming community and will be greatly missed.
With each new streaming music service that launches I always have a poke around to see what they consider to be popular video game fare. The results are usually spectacularly disappointing. A handful of Halo. Some licensed rock and rap tracks that featured in a Tony Hawk game. A playlist of pop music from Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. Now that Songza has been folded into Google Play Music, and with a time consuming project unfolding at work, I decided to have a poke around.
I wish I could tell you what I typed in to find it but at the hands of Google’s search algorithm I was deposited in front of the Aperture Science Psychoacoustic Laboratories station. True to its name there’s plenty of Portal 2’s excellent soundtrack in store but it also serves as a good sampling of the modern video game music scene. If it weren’t for a few tracks from Mass Effect and Portal I’d even call this the Indie Video Game Music station.
There’s a good mix of albums and artists here with a focus on atmospheric EDM stuff. Fez, Minecraft, Frozen Synapse and Sword & Sworcery mingle with the peppier sounds of PPPPPP, Super Hexagon and Scott Pilgrim: The Game. Every now and then you get a nice acoustic/orchestral break with Bastion, The Banner Saga, Thomas Was Alone and Trine 2. Rounding out the mix is a helping of original tracks from artists including Anamanaguchi, Big Giant Circles and Chipzel.
It’s been a nice backdrop for my work lately and I really appreciate that it never goes to extremes causing me to scramble for the skip button. Did I mention it’s free, streaming and available from your Android or iOS device? Check it out the next time you find yourself itching for a new playlist.
If you’re a fan of nerdcore hip-hop artist Mega Ran and have been waiting with baited breath for the release of Mighty No.9, then this will be a double-score!
Random Beats has released “Your Favorite Song” from Mega Ran’s upcoming album, RNDM. The new album is set to release on September 15 of this year and will feature “Mighty!,” a collaboration with the fantastic Mega Man composer Manami Matsumae which will be featured during the credits of Mighty No. 9. As if that wasn’t enough, there will also be an additional collaboration with Castlevania composer Michiru Yamane.
“This is a dream come true. “I’ve been working hard to land a videogame placement, and for this one to be the one, with a game and creator that I’m so close to, so inspired by, this is such a storybook tale. I’m really fortunate and I hope this is the first of many.”
- Mega Ran Press Release
You can pre-order RNDM on Bandcamp get in on the giveaway while the getting is good. You can also follow Mega Ran’s collaboration with Mighty No. 9 on the Random Beats website.
RNDM – Bandcamp
Random Beats – Website