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.
For this week’s Arrangement of the Week, I’m going to take a trip down memory lane. Most of you probably remember your first game experience, or at least the experience that left a strong impression. For me the first Sonic the Hedgehog on the Sega Genesis was that game. The original soundtrack by Masato Nakamura always gives me a good nostalgia hit, so I decided to select an arrangement of its soundtrack for this week’s post.
Today’s selection comes from artist Rexy and is titled “Flicky’s Night Out.” The piece is an arrangement of “Star Light Zone” from the original Sonic the Hedgehog game, with some instances of “Green Hill Zone” thrown into the mix. Flicky, if you didn’t know, is a reference to a bird protagonist in Sega’s 1984 arcade game, titled Flicky. The blue bird makes appearances in many of the Sonic the Hedgehog games.
The piece starts off with a simple set of bell synths and light percussion, but quickly ramps up into an energetic dance arrangement. The rhythmic guitar strums, drums, and catchy bass line provide a great grove, but what really sells this mix is the flute lead synth that soars above the rest of the instruments. The entire arrangement evokes a wonderfully upbeat, celebratory mood. It’s definitely a good reflection of the mood I’m in when I finally get to the Star Light Zone.
The flute lead takes a break for some violin solos and a few references to the “Green Hill Zone” at around 1’20” before returning to the original “Star Light Zone” material at 2’14.” The flute lead also makes one last appearance before the final wind down of the piece. Overall, a fun, energetic, and uplifting arrangement of Masato Nakamura’s original music.
Have you listened to any interesting game music remixes, arrangements, or covers recently? Let us know in the comments below. You can listen to and download “Flick’s Night Out” on OC ReMix.
Remember Chime? It was a nice music puzzle game originally released on Xbox Live Arcade in 2010. It featured the same sweeping time bar and glowing visuals as Lumines but focused more on Tetris-style pieces rather than colored squares. It was neat but I always felt at odds with the game. While I wanted to chill with the music and add layers to it as I played, that relentless bar and the unavoidable junk pieces made me rush, stress and frequently fail.
I’m happy to say that’s one of the first concerns addressed in the Kickstarter video for Chime Sharp. Headed up by Ste Curran, one of the creators of Chime, the goals for the sequel are simple; “a prettier version of the game that everyone loves, distilled, with extra game modes and all new music.” The pretty graphics are already largely in place but adding new modes and music is why they’ve turned to Kickstarter.
Music licensing is hard, especially when your game needs to rip up the songs and let the player piece them together. There’s already new music in place but with backer support the team hopes to add the likes of Daft Punk, Magic Sword, George & Jonathan, and Chipzel to build their “dream soundtrack”. Backers also give them time (and a test market) to experiment with new ways to play and, most important of all, prove to their publisher that there’s an audience ready for more Chime.
With 32 days to go they’re already nearly at their goal so Chime Sharp looks all but certain. The target launch is planned for August 2015 on PC, Mac and Linux but there’s plenty of time for stretch goals that could result in console ports and more features. You can see and hear more about the game and even play a browser based demo at the official Chime Sharp site.
There’s been a lot of excitement about the remake of Square Enix’s Final Fantasy VII. I myself am cautiously optimistic about the game, but I’m still quite excited. To help celebrate the announcement of the long requested remake, I thought we’d take a look at a Final Fantasy VII cover for this week’s Arrangement of the Week.
There are of course tons of covers, remixes, and arrangements of Nobuo Uematsu’s original soundtrack. With so much to choose from, it was definitely hard to pick out a favorite. This week’s arrangement is called “Still More Fighting” and comes to us from guitarist Brian Autumn. The cover is of the Final Fantasy VII boss fight theme, “Fight On!” aka “Those Who Fight Further.”
The video does a great job of showing off Brian’s skills at electric guitar and bass, and features footage from one of Final Fantasy VII’s boss fights. Oddly enough, it’s not a boss that actually uses “Fight On!” for its battle music. While it’s very common to find rock guitar arrangements of this piece, this arrangement goes beyond being a pure guitar cover, with inclusion of organ, synths, and string pads. It all fits well with the style of the original piece and with the original game footage. Uematsu’s battle themes do have a strong rock influence, particularly in Final Fantasy VII, so this cover stays very true to the original in terms of tone.
The source material is broken up by occasional but brief deviations and improvisations. For example, at around 1’30” he launches into an impressive series of rapid arpeggios on the lead guitar. My favorite moment though is the sudden switch to an orchestral arrangement at 2’30” for the summon in the battle. It’s a cool switch up that, in addition to matching the battle on screen, gives the cover a little more variety.
This was a nice little find from Brian Autumn. This actually appears to be his only videogame music cover, and an excellent one at that. If you’d like to listen to or download a copy of “Still More Fighting” that doesn’t include the video’s battle sound effects, you can do so at the artist’s Soundcloud page.
Have you heard any interesting new arrangements, remixes, or covers this week? Let us know in the comments below.
In this edition of Game Soundtracks For Your Soul I am looking back at two personal favorite Sony Playstation soundtracks from the PSOne, and PS3. The first soundtrack is on Sony Playstation was composed by Noriyuki Asakura, and whenever I hear the main theme I find myself air plucking. The second soundtrack from Playstation 3 was composed by Joe Hisaishi and is stunning orchestral masterpiece, but my favorite themes in the game may not be what you expect.
These are my thoughts on the music from Tenchu: Stealth Assassins and Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch.
If you’re one of the older members of our generation, you probably know what vinyl is. For the younger kids, vinyl is the older brother of the CD (compact disk) – that physical medium that predates your fancy MP3 players and iPhones. (Man, I’m old.) They’re also commonly referred to as “records”.
So now that you have had the history lesson, you might not be aware that vinyl has not exactly gone the way of the dinosaur. What used to be a neat hobby for collectors of older-style medium has seemed to have a resurgence within the past few years, and one of the things that seems to be included within this return to a simpler time of music-listening is video game music.