Rejoice lovers of all things chiptune! The good people over at Chiptunes = WIN have released their 5th album in the main series of chiptune releases!
After what seems like an eternity of consideration, the roster for ‘Chiptunes = WIN: Volume 5‘ is complete. All judges have locked in their votes and comments and I’ve used the subsequent collective data to form the final roster. Per the usual, this was not an easy process. To be frank, it never is. And with the extraordinarily high quality of the top submissions this time, it was even tougher. Honestly, I’m just as excited for the inevitable expansion release as I am for Volume 5!
All the same, one thing at a time. ಠ‿↼ – Brandon “President Hoodie” Hood
The album features a slew of returning artists from former WIN albums such as Auxcide, Chipzel, Petriform and more, and also introduces a whole new roster of fresh artists including PROTOFLIGHT and chip-favorite artist Shirobon.
Volume 5 has an extensive 51-track list and the whole thing is available at the Name Your Price level on the community’s Bandcamp.
Hot on the heels of Lumines: Puzzle & Music is the return of another block-based rhythm puzzler, Chime Sharp. The original game launched on Xbox 360 and PC in 2010 and I’ve posted about this sequel’s development a few times over the past year. The game left Steam Early Access on July 19th and is out now with a 20% launch discount making it $11.99 through July 26th.
Just last month the team announced the artists whose songs would form the foundation of each stage’s music. Among them are several noteworthy chiptune and electronic artists like Chipzel, Magic Sword, Shirobon and Kavinsky. Are you planning on picking up Chime Sharp or daydreaming about the return of another favorite music/rhythm game? Let us know in the comments.
Rhythm RPG, The Metronomicon has quite the news to celebrate today but if you — like me until 15 minutes ago — had never heard of it, here’s a quick primer. The Metronomicon combines rhythm games and RPGs in the same way Puzzle Quest infused Match 3 gameplay with combat and quests. Similar in style to Guitar Hero and Rock Band, you’re hitting colored notes as they fall down the screen. Instead of racking up points though, you’re building up abilities and buffs across 8 different characters to whittle away the Hit Points of fantastically nonsensical enemies. Winning battles and completing quests rewards you with gear and experience points to customize your team.
All of this is set to an expanding soundtrack of licensed songs from DJ Cutman, Perturbator, J-Punch, YACHT, Shiny Toy Guns and as of today, Mega Ran, whose track “Miss Communication” will be joining the setlist. Developer Puuba also announced today that your existing Rock Band and Guitar Hero guitars will be compatible with the game as well as custom-built dance pads coming from Precision Dance Pads.
Take a look at the latest devlog above to see the shiny new dance pads in action and hear Mega Ran vibin’ along to the game. The Metronomicon is launching later in 2016 with the help of Kasedo Games and will be making its next appearance at GamesCom in Germany next month. Expect an update with some more musical announcements around the show.
The 4th of July is not usually a holiday one would expect to find a lot of VGM or chiptune albums dedicated to it. However Christopher “Mazedude” Getman decided to get in on the untapped potential of such an idea and run with it with his American Pixels tribute album to all things American video game music.
I’ve been working on an album for 5+ years now, celebrating American video game music composers by way of remix and special guest performances. (I released a free album along the same theme back in ’05, which you can learn more about here: http://www.mazedude.com/aa/) – Mazedude
The album features arrangements of several video game OSTs with American composers, including Mass Effect 2, Maniac Mansion, Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, DC Universe and more by several top-tier musicians within the VGM community such as David “Dhsu” Hsu (Bad Dudes), William Reyes (The OneUps), Sean “Ailsean” Stone (Bad Dudes, Smash Brothers) and a handful of other talented artists.
“Dragonborn Concerto” – Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Preview)
The album is currently seeking $5,000 in funding on Kickstarter to help produce the album, and has several previews of what you can expect to hear from the bevvy of tracks and musicians.
I’ve been making arrangements of game music for 15 years, mostly for free and always at a quality I could achieve with my own gear. Just this once, I want to take a project all the way, with proper mastering, I want to license it so that it can arrive at iTunes and Amazon, and even though it’s more of a bucket-list thing, I really want to be able to have the official, physical CD done right.
You can learn more about the campaign on the American Pixels official Kickstarter page, which launched today. The digital album can be backers at the $9 tier, with other tiers including a physical album, requesting special remixes by Mazedude himself, and adding your voice to the choir of the Phantasmagoria track. You can also check out Mazedude’s other works on his Bandcamp.
Groupees’ Chiptune + Charity Bundle returns for the 10th time this Summer to spread music and money to benefit the Children’s Cancer Association’s MyMusic Rx program. For a minimum of $2 you’ll get ten chiptune albums and soundtracks featuring Jake “virt” Kaufman, tiasu, ToyCompany, DJ Cutman, Jamatar, coda, bignic, Please Lose Battle, BigGiantCircles and Kubbi.
Highlights this time around are the entire Retro City Rampage soundtrack from “virt”, “Norrin Radd” and “Freaky DNA” and an exclusive EP album from DJ Cutman featuring original music. Mystery albums are added as donations hit $1,000 levels so there’s more bonus music to come, the first of which will be the ToyCompany album Playroom Vol.2.
The chiptune-rock duo of Marshall Art are celebrating their 5th anniversary of their band formation, and passing the awesome onto you!
On July 1st, the compilation album Gallery will be released on digital retailers and will feature music from Marshall Art’s entire 2011-2016 discography, which includes covers of game music such as Undertale, Chrono Trigger, Donkey Kong Country 3 and a whole lot more including more obscure game covers from Shura no Mon and non-vgm compositions. If you’re not familiar with Marshall Art, their work of NES-style chiptunes layer with guitar rock has included collaborations with several other artists and inclusion on tribute albums such as Danse Macabre and Chronicles of Time. They’ve also been a staple within the chiptune community and performed at several MAGFests as well as 8static Fest to high praise.
“Battle Theme 1” – Shura no Mon (Marshall Art)
The new release will also have 25 limited edition, hand-painted cassettes available to the most eager of fans to purchase for their collection.
“We wanted to give these songs a proper physical release. I’m a huge fan of unique, hand-crafted merch items. This compilation made for a good opportunity to make an album that is an art piece on its own.” – Jeffrey Roberts, Marshall Art
The 13-track Gallery album spans 60 minutes worth of game music covers and other works, and can be purchased digitally tomorrow July 1st on Loudr and Amazon MP3, while the limited edition cassette tapes will go on sale the same day at noon on Marshall Art’s music website.
The gaming and music event RE:Play is returning this year to Houston, Texas on July 2nd for another round of, well, gaming and music fun!
An event created in Houston, TX that centers around the love of gaming and the music it inspires combined. It is designed to be an outlet for game developers and musicians to perform and showcase their material, as well as fans to celebrate their love of gaming!
This time around, RE:Play has partnered with Lazybit Collective and will be featuring new games and arcades for your gaming pleasure. They also will be featuring a new lineup of musical guests and performers to tantalize your earmeats. The performer lineup is:
The event is currently $15 per ticket for the early bird pre-order, and more information can be found on their website.
When we last checked in with Chime Sharp it was racing towards its Kickstarter goal last July. Having been fully funded the game was launched on Steam Early Access in November and will see its final release on Steam by the end of this month. Today, publisher Chilled Mouse and Chime co-creator, Ste Curran, have announced the full list of artists whose music will be at the core of the game’s fifteen stages. The list looks to hit a good mix between electronic and acoustic styles with contributions from the following artists:
For those that don’t remember the 2010 original, the team sums it up perfectly as a “crossover between a music sequencer and Tetris”. Utilizing a sweeping time bar Chime hits that same hypnotic, rhythmic euphoria as the classic music puzzler Lumines as players slot pieces into formations to clear them from the screen in time with the music.
Chime Sharp offers new modes, new music and a sharp (whoops, didn’t see that coming) new visual presentation to bring its classic gameplay up to date.
Sometimes you stumble upon a fascinating fandom, dip a tentative toe into their murky waters and then seize up in uncertainty, unsure if you’re ready for the plunge. Maybe it’s the world of Persona or a MOBA but for me it was Fire Pro Wrestling. A couple years ago I picked up Fire Pro Wrestling Returns because it was a PlayStation 2 game with sprites and that seemed uncommon. I’d heard the name and seen some scuzzy VHS dubs of Japanese wrestling in the 90’s but that was all the exposure I had. Bewildered by the game’s complex mechanics I turned to the internet and that’s when my toe hit the chilly surface of the Fire Pro waters.
First appearing in 1989 and with a library of 30+ titles steeped in the mystery of Japanese Pro Wrestling — saying nothing of the fan communities that have grown around them — I found myself frozen. “It wasn’t a lake,” I repeated the words of Alan Wake, “it was an ocean.” I shied away and haven’t invested myself in the game since but every now and then I think about the series. So when I was perusing Bandcamp last week and saw Fire Pro M: Volume One I couldn’t help but take a tentative look inside.
The album is a re-release of a 2009 collaboration from various Fire Pro communities and boldly states that it’s “for Japanese wrestling game enthusiasts by Japanese wrestling game enthusiasts”. Despite that warning and the numerous names I’d not heard of — SonnyBone, Jason Blackhart, DJKM, RapidFire, Wackydeli, R’lyeh Liberation Front, OctoberRaven, Wonderland — I continued listening. I don’t think I understand Fire Pro any better but I’ve now spent more time with this album than any of the games in the franchise and think it’s worth a listen: fan, fanatic or not.
If there’s one thing Frank Klepacki knows how to compose for, it’s real-time strategy games. He’s touched some of the biggest, best and most recent entries in the genre, the latest of which is 8-Bit Armies from former Westwood Studios members at Petroglyph Games. It’s the classic gameplay of Command & Conquer painted in vibrant voxel style over which Klepacki plies his familiar hard rock and electronic stylings to some new sounds.
Immediately obvious are the tracks that feature flourishes of chiptune but there’s a general darker and harder electronic vibe over C&C’s military rock sound throughout. Breakbeats, those chippy synth leads and just a hint of dubstep distortion play over his familiar brooding and driving bass. It adds just enough newness to the familiar feel of a classic to hit you right in the nostalgic pit of your heart.
The game is out now and available from all your favorite digital storefronts (Steam, GOG and Humble Bundle) for 10% off the asking price of $14.99. The soundtrack is also on sale at a discount over at Steam or bundled with 8-Bit Armies directly from Petroglyph Games. The 9-track album runs with just over 30 minutes of music and is priced at $3.99 including the following songs:
Charlotte Seeker is an upcoming game from Bearcowboy that has narrowly dodged some some of its own setbacks just like the bullet-weaving heroine. After an unsuccessful Kickstarter in 2014 and a slipped release in 2015, the tiny team has forged ahead through Steam Greenlight and are now aiming to launch in Q2 of this year.
Described as a 16 bit-inspired, lo-fi melange of twin stick shooters and roguelikes, Charlotte Seeker wears its influences on its sleeve. Bearcowboy sites The Binding of Isaac, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and Resogun as inspiration behind its brand of mesmerizing “bullet heck” gameplay and vibrant pixelart visuals. Accompanying that is Spencer Riedel’s soundtrack that’s full of boppin’ chiptune interwoven with modern synths all chopped up with break beats, acoustic drums and thick bass. Just how the action puts its own spin on familiar gameplay, the music also mixes old and new. The combination evokes some very specific old console sounds — at least for me — while peppering everything with fresh melodies and unexpected rhythms.
The first track, “Menu Theme”, was designed to ease players into both the listening and playing experience. This is as calm as the album gets and it opens with pulsing bass and a deconstruction of the game’s main theme that wafts in and out as the layers build. Things drop out around 2:00 into a muffled drum beat that finally ushers us into the proper tune with dueling voices of tinny and grungy synths. It’s a perfect introductory track and things only get more interesting from there.
The next track, “Pistons”, sings with the same high synth voice but gets a whole new feel to evoke the engine room that it accompanies. Riedel adds a hint of Latin influence that can be heard in the opening percussion and the crisp syncopated drum and cymbal throughout. Just about halfway through a wonderful guitar solo leaps into the mix and is matched by the main synth. The pair lead us right into a breakdown of chippy drums before a new guitar solo wraps around for one final, glorious refrain. The song gets a great remix later in the album on the track “Turbines” where it accompanies a boss battle with double speed, grungier guitars and layers of extra harmonies.
Between “Pistons” and “Turbines” is the funky track “Cogs” which Riedel says is a “love letter to two early game music memories” from Spyro the Dragon and the Sega Genesis. Sure enough, the plodding little melody at the beginning reminds me of Spyro’s earliest adventures but quickly picks up speed with fast synth melodies. These are punctuated through the rest of the song by both shrill and crunchy sounds that thoroughly remind me of the Genesis’ unique sound.
The track “Thorns” maintains the album’s signature sounds with high synths and crunchy drums but takes a stylistic turn towards surf rock. The simple bass and lead synths at the beginning initially remind me of the Game Boy Advance hardware but once the choppy drum samples and guitar jump in it feels wonderfully unique. Another mid-track break simmers back down to the main synth before exploding with even choppier breakbeat drums and a cacophonous swell of melodies.
“Nettles” is spot on boss battle music from the get-go with its descending run and jumpy synth melody. It’s punctuated by droning backing sounds that also remind me of the Game Boy Advance and more punchy, syncopated drumming. Midway through is one of those great musical flourishes that always inspires me to make brash, boneheaded attacks when I’m playing a game. In this case it’s another out-of-nowhere descending run of main and bass synths that pops back into full swing just before the loop point.
The layers of synths in “Squids” all have that wonderful tremolo waver that calls to mind Amiga cracktros I’ve posted about before. It’s a unique sound for what is one of the game’s desert levels and it gets stronger after the intro when the pounding drums thump in. At the midpoint a pair of scratchy, abrasive synths pipe up adding to the harsh and chaotic sound of the track.
“Wind” is another song set in the game’s desert environment that opens with plucky synths and remind me of the NES. Before you have time to place the sound though, that crunchy guitar and percussion, with a nonstop cowbell, crash onto the scene, repeating the synth line. The contrast of chiptune and acoustic instruments is particularly strong here as the two voices take turns in the lead while those persistent drums move everything along at a great speed.
Setting the stage for one of the game’s wintery levels, “Snow” opens with fast drum and bass percussion and a low end synth that is quickly joined by a sawing guitar. The slippery sensation of ice and cold comes from the dual pair of frantic and twinkly synth leads. The pair echo trembling arpeggios back and forth and right on through the thumping bass break at the midpoint and back around for a final loop.
“Frostbite” is the tune used in the game’s trailer and, fittingly enough, it was the first thing I heard when I started this review. While this edited version now accompanies a boss battle and appears almost at the end of the album I’ve come to think of it as the game’s theme. It incorporates all the sounds we’ve heard elsewhere and has a bombastic sound that’s perfect for a theme song. The opening bass synth is backed up by chippy percussion that reminds me a bit of Bionic Commando on the NES. Seconds later the familiar high synth voice and acoustic drums burst in with a brash staccato theme that swells with the scratchy background synths of a Genesis game. The whole thing crescendos into a solo by that familiar high synth, echoed back by yet higher voices before flowing into a quick loop.
The final track I want to highlight is “Credits”. Calling back to the tune established on the very first track, and the game’s main menu screen, it’s a great wraparound with enough variety to sound familiar but new. The increases in speed and pitch give the song that triumphant “you beat the game” vibe and the bass keeps your head bopping along.
The rest of the album is honestly just as good as the tracks I picked to explore. In fact, it was hard not to write up every single song because they all have something unique worth hearing. The full album even throws in an extra eight tracks of demo tunes, alternate takes and unused material that are fun to explore after hearing the main playlist a few times. Accompanying the game or on its own, Charlotte Seeker – Games on Cassette is a wonderful, re-listenable aural spectacle. If you’re love of chiptune is waning or if you’re just looking for something fresh and exhilarating I definitely suggest taking a listen.
The best kinds of April Fool’s gags are the ones that wind up becoming real things. The Mega Man tie and the Tauntaun sleeping bag spring to mind but this year’s gag-to-grab is VGM NXC 001. Released by GameChops, the 17-track album is the work of “international video game remixing super group” Party Members. The guilty parties behind the music include DJ Cutman, Ben Briggs, Mega Flare, Grimecraft, RoBKTA, DJ Mykah, Ralfington and many more.
Leading up to the release several of the artists renounced their chiptune and electronic heritage in favor of nightcore, the increasingly misinterpreted act of speeding up electronic tracks close to 200 beats per minute. However you feel about the sub-genre the album is worth a listen offering spastic remixes from Final Fantasy, Cave Story, Undertale, Animal Crossing, Katamari Damacy and more.
VGM NXC 001 is available on Bandcamp for whatever price you want to pay or you can listen on SoundCloud or check out the entire album in this hyper-bouncy YouTube video. Did you come across any other noteworthy April Fool’s game music or remixes over the weekend? Let us know in the comments below.