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.
Jake “Virt” Kaufman is shaping up to be a very busy boy these days. On top of recent additions to his amazing work on the Shovel Knight OST with the Plague of Shadows DLC, and being slated for work on indie titles [NUREN] and working alongside Michiru Yamane and Ippo Yamada for Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, another new indie project has just been announced with him attached to compose. Ghost Police is negative-space shmup title currently in development by independent game developer Steven McCarthy, and will feature an 8-bit chip music soundtrack done up by Kaufman.
“Many people don’t know this, but I actually got my start in videogames working on the Game Boy. As Ghost Police blends styles from the NES and Game Boy, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to come full circle with the NES soundtrack for Shovel Knight by writing this with the Namco 163 sound chip, an expansion that I’m familiar with and am eager to push to its limits!” – Jake Kaufman
Kaufman currently has the trailer score for the soundtrack’s Kickstarter, which is seeking $16,000 USD with various stretch goals for additional work. A copy of the Ghost Police for PC is available for the equivalent of $7.80 USD – with the soundtrack, beta access, and backers’ pixelated likenesses featured in the game at higher support levels.
Source: Scarlet Moon Productions
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.