Today’s Arrangement of the Week track led me to the discovery of an odd game from the late NES era. Kabuki: Quantum Fighter was a game released by HAL in 1990. The 2D side-scroller stars a character who enters a computer system to fight an evil virus as a kabuki warrior. Your character’s primary attack consists of whipping his hair at the enemies. The game has a bizarre premise, but features an interesting soundtrack by Masaki Hashimoto and Takahiro Wakuta.
Naturally, a game this obscure hasn’t received much attention, especially in the game music remix department. However, a few arrangements do in fact exist. The arrangement for this week comes from Aureolius with a cover of “Round 1” titled “USB Mindlink.”
The original track had a very repetitive set of beats and rhythmic motifs, so it really feels like a perfect fit for this techno arrangement. Aureolius’s approach with the material is pretty straight forward. The repeating bass motive establishes itself before being joined by a heavy kick and clap rhythm combo. The arrangement continues building up until around the 1’30” mark, at which point the piece drops out a majority of the instruments.
There are some nice little melodic moments, such as the flute-like lead that enters at 2’33” and actually remains in the mix as the music returns to the primary music riff. There are some cool atmospheric effects as well, which become especially noticeable in the quieter sections. Overall, a well done arrangement of a relatively unknown piece of game music.
Have you had a chance to listen to any remixes, arrangements, or covers of obscure videogame music? Let us know in the comment section below. You can listen to and download “USB Mindlink” by Aureolius on OC ReMix.
There are some games that are so difficult, they are nearly impossible to finish. But there’s always something that keeps you coming back for more punishment as you try to get further, or finish the game. There are also games that your friends love, and you absolutely hate because you’re either terrible at them or just don’t see the appeal. Sometimes though if the music is great it makes it easier to get back in the game.
In this edition of Game Soundtracks For Your Soul I’m heading back to the 90′s to look at the music of two games. One was a game a played for countless hours on the Super Nintendo and I still consider to be very difficult to complete. The other is a PC game that I played with a friend using the magic powers of my 14.4K modem. This is my look back at the music of SeaQuest DSV on SNES, and Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness/Beyond the Dark Portal on the PC.
We’ve covered a lot of classic game tunes on Arrangement of the Week. Today we’re going to switch it up and take a look at a remix of an indie game soundtrack. If you’ve payed attention to the independent games world, you’ll have undoubtably heard of the space strategy game FTL (Faster Than Light). The game’s electronic centric score was composed by Ben Prunty, who has since then worked on a handful of other sci-fi games like Star Crawlers and Gravity Ghost.
This week’s selection is a rock arrangement of “Space Cruise,” the main title theme for FTL. The artist for this arrangement is Little V, aka James Mills. In addition to creating rock arrangements, he also reviews guitar and music gear. Be sure to check that out on his YouTube page if you have the chance.
When I first saw that this was a rock remix, I was honestly expecting to hear a very heavy rock mix. However this arrangement is surprisingly light in terms of its tone. The piece opens up with mellow electronic pads, along with some clean electric guitar chords and arpeggios. Light drum beats and an electric bass also come in, building up the mix but still maintaining the ambient rock tone. At the 0’55” mark the first instance of a distorted guitar comes into play, adding a more metal sound to the arrangement.
Even at its bigger and heavier rock moments, the ambient synth textures still play a role. They blend quite well with the electric guitars and help connect the rock sections with the quieter moments. There’s a nice little break at around 2’17”, where the electronic pads and the guitar play out some more chilled out tones, before returning to the main theme. Overall it’s a great arrangement, creating a unique combination of ambient synth textures with the more aggressive sounds of heavy metal.
Have you heard any cool arrangements, covers, or remixes of FTL’s music? Tell us about them in the comment section below. You can check out Little V’s “Faster Than Rock” on Soundcloud, OC ReMix, and on YouTube.
Today’s Arrangement of the Week features music from one of my favorite handheld titles, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. The music from the game, composed by Yoshiaki Koizumi and Kensuke Tanabe, has had a fair share of remixes and arrangements. Today we will be focussing on an orchestral arrangement of “Tal Tal Heights,” easily one of the game’s most well known themes.
The artist for this arrangement is Raymusicification, aka Imco de Gier, who has been cranking out orchestral arrangements of game tunes for the past few years on YouTube and Soundcloud. A good chunk of them cover music from the Rayman, Super Mario, and Legend of Zelda series. But today, I’ll be taking a look at the arrangement simply titled “Tal Tal Heights – Orchestral Remix.”
As with many of the orchestral arrangements that are covered in this series, this one is produced with the use of sample libraries, rather than live instruments. A full set of orchestral instruments are used in this piece. A healthy dose of strings, brass, percussion, and woodwinds are featured throughout the mix, helping evoke a sense of adventure and grandeur in the tune. I actually like that the strings take on an accompaniment role in this piece, letting the woodwinds and harp handle a majority the melodic material.
What made this arrangement stick out to me was that it’s a very light arrangement. It’s not bogged down with a heavy string and brass presence that plagues so many modern orchestral pieces. This is helped by the brass and percussion being very low key, merely helping punctuate the rhythm. The fact that instruments like the harp and xylophone often become the melodic focus on the track helps keep the piece light hearted and upbeat. Overall a pleasant and fun arrangement to listen to.
Have any favorite arrangements, remixes, or covers of music from The Legend of Zelda series? Let us know in the comments below. You can check out Raymusicification’s “Tal Tal Heights – Orchestral Remix” on Soundcloud and on YouTube.
Last month, I took a look at the recent prevalence of video game music being released on vinyl records. The idea that older game music is being re-released onto a audio medium that was on its way out by the time the NES was dominating the gaming market was a fascinating concept, and I wanted to look deeper into it.
I was fortunate to be contacted by the fine people of Data Discs, who pride themselves as being the first record label solely dedicated to releasing video game soundtracks to vinyl. Having recently released licensed record OSTs for Streets of Rage and Shenmue, I was curious to learn more about this business and what goes into the process of getting classic game soundtracks onto a classic format such as vinyl, and they were gracious enough to answer some of my questions.
There are some game music tracks that get much more attention than others from the game music arrangement/remix community. This seems to be particularly true of David Wise’s “Aquatic Ambience” from Donkey Kong Country. It’s not hard to see why it’s such a popular pick for reinterpretations. The original piece is, true to its title, ambient but also has a great melody that works beautifully over the textures and sustained music elements. So today I will be talking about one of my favorite arrangements of this piece.
Today’s Arrangement of the Week comes from artists Martin “Mordi” Lande, with Michael Gibs assisting on electric guitar. Their arrangement of “Aquatic Ambience” is titled “A Hint of Blue.”
The piece starts off quietly with a set of mellow synth pads, a panning synth arpeggio, and a few notes from a piano. Then at around 0’52” the piece builds up a little to the main melody on a gentle synth lead, with some light percussion added in. The mix continues to build a little at a time. Some vocals come in, the drums get a little heavier, and more synth textures add to the ambient chord progression. Despite the continuing inclusion of these new elements, the arrangement never loses its calming tone.
At around 2’34” the piece relaxes back down to the lighter synth pad elements. The more complex mix comes back though with Michael Gibs’s lead guitar taking the melody at 3’03.” The lead synth sounds actually trade off with the guitar every once and a while. Even when the guitar is taking spotlight, the mix still maintains this light and relaxing feeling. The combination of all these elements creates an enjoyable and interesting listening experience.
I think my favorite part of this arrangement is the way it winds down. At around the 5’00” mark the piece removes the percussion and guitar, allowing the focus to shift to the piano and strings. There are also some great touches like an echoing bell pad that further adds to the piece’s ambient tone. Definitely one of my favorite interpretations of “Aquatic Ambience.”
Do you have any favorite remixes, arrangements, or covers of “Aquatic Ambience”? Let us know in the comment section. You can listen to and download “A Hint of Blue” on OC ReMix.
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.
Ah, the kung fu flick. That amazing period in the 1970’s when a revolution in Chinese cinema barged its way into America. Over the decades it’s congealed in the global consciousness to also include funk, blaxsploitation and hip hop characteristics. It is from this muddled soup that several games have sipped their inspiration and one of the latest is Kings of Kung Fu. The setup is clever with Hollywood stuntman, Red Ronin (the game’s Sho’nuff stand-in), holding a fighting tournament amongst his fellow stuntfolk for a starring role. It’s a great conceit to bring lookalikes from the history of kung fu together in a one-on-one fighter. After the jump I’ll dig into the funkiest part of the game, it’s soundtrack.
Rhythm games are an interesting genre in the gaming world. The titles can often feature wildly different mechanics or provide game changing twists on familiar formula’s. One of the more popular entries emerged back in 2008 with Dylan Fitterer’s puzzle/rhythm hybrid Audiosurf. The game had a simple premise. Use the music in the player’s existing music library to generate three lane block highway patterns, similar to the note lanes of Amplitude or Rock Band, and challenge the player to collect and form clusters of three or more of the same color blocks with a spaceship avatar. After over half a decade, a sequel to the original game is finally out in the form of Audiosurf 2.
I never played the original game back when it was released, so this sequel will be my first time with the series. Because of that, this review will be an examination of Audiosurf 2 on its own merits and I will not be comparing it to its predecessor. While I’m aware that many of the modes and mechanics have been carried over to this latest title, you’ll only be getting my perspective on how they work in this game. With all that said, let’s take a look at Audiosurf 2. (more…)
For the sequel to a Flash game created by a 30-something guy and his 8-year-old daughter, you may not expect the music of Super Chibi Knight to be much of anything. From that description, you may not expect the game to be anything either but it promises a nostalgic mix of platforming and action/RPG in the pre-64 Legend of Zelda style. A new wrinkle is the sorcerer/beastmaster dynamic which changes how Super Chibi Knight plays, which areas you’ll see and how the game winds up. It’s super expanded from the original Chibi Knight and looking at this tracklist makes that extra apparent.
Returning composer, Brian Allen Holmes, has created an immense collection of 74 tracks for Super Chibi Knight. Most were designed as loops for the game so many of the tracks are short and fade out just as I started to get into them. It’s an unfortunate concession but understandable even for a digital release when there’s so much excellent music to cover. So grab your sword and shield and let’s explore this album.
This week, we’re going to look at music from a more recent game. One of the newer releases that I’ve been playing through is From Software’s action horror title Bloodborne. When music does make an entrance it’s usually when you fight against one of the game’s many bosses. Even though the game’s only been out for a few months, there’s already a healthy supply of arrangements coming out from the game music community.
Today’s Arrangement of the Week is an orchestral arrangement from Alex Roe. Alex has in fact created a four track arrangement album titled Bloodborne Remixes. There’s even one track in the style of a Castlevania tune. They are all excellent interpretations, but today I will be focussing on the track “Moonlit Beast.” The arrangement is a combination of the “Cleric Beast,” from Bloodborne’s first boss; “Dark Reality,” from King’s Field IV; and the first movement of Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata.”
The music from Bloodborne and King’s Field IV blend very well together, owing partially to the fact that both pieces were composed by Tsukasa Saitoh. The opening starts off with Beethoven’s familiar “Moonlight Sonata” movement, but soon starts morphing to become accompaniment for “Cleric Beast” and “Dark Reality.” The arrangement moves fluidly between the two themes and maintains the foreboding mood of the original soundtracks. The constant and insistent rhythm in the accompaniment strings really helps maintain a sense of tension throughout the piece. The “Moonlight Sonata” material more or less acts as a bookend for the beginning and ending of the track.
Despite having to rely on orchestral samples, the arrangement still sounds great. I particularly like the use of woodwinds for some of the melodic motifs. It helps distinguish the arrangement’s sound from the original “Cleric Beast” piece, which is significantly more string, choir, and brass heavy. With all that said, it’s an interesting combination of pieces, that make for an eerie but enjoyable listening experience.
Were there any new game music arrangements, remixes, or covers that caught your attention this week? Let us know in the comment section below. You can download and listen to “Moonlit Beast” and Alex Roe’s other Bloodborne arrangements on his Bandcamp site.
There’s never a bad day to listen to NieR! With the recent unveiling of NieR: New Project at E3 it seems extra appropriate today to check out a new music video created and performed by vocalist Jillian Aversa and percussionist Doug Perry. The duo have performed “Song of the Ancients” on the international stages of Video Games Live but now, with the help of director Lando Donoho, they have created their own moody and atmospheric music video to go along with it.
“Song of the Ancients” is an incredible piece no matter how you perform it but the arrangement here is made even more soulful by the accompaniment of Perry’s vibraphone and layered percussion. The video and song are made available today by OverClocked Records and marks their first foray into the official licensing of video game music singles.
“I’m very excited to see OverClocked Records taking a big step towards focusing on licensed VGM arrangements,” comments OverClocked ReMix founder David Lloyd. “Jill and Doug have done a fantastic job capturing the magic of NieR with this transporting and beautiful arrangement and video. As the first arranged VGM single on the OverClocked Records label, the bar has certainly been set high!”
The video was fittingly filmed at the National Harbor during MAGFest, Maryland’s annual game music convention. The sculpture The Awakening serves as a simple and brooding backdrop that draws viewers into the mysterious world of NieR.
“We decided to shoot the music video in front of an enormous statue of a man ‘drowning’ in the sand nearby,” reflects Aversa. “Doug wore all black (including a mask painted on his face) and I created my own ghostly white ensemble.”
“We thought the statue was very reminiscent of NieR,” adds Doug Perry. “Like a relic of this once-great civilization that had fallen victim to the passage of time. Wheeling my vibraphone down the streets of National Harbor in the freezing cold made for quite an amusing scene, though!”
You can watch the video embedded above or over on Jillian Aversa’s YouTube channel and download the single directly from OverClocked Records. If all this has sparked your interest in NieR, or rekindled your old passion, be sure to check out our extensive coverage of the game and its stellar soundtrack.