MAGFest, the annual gathering for people who love video games, music, and video game music, took place at its usual spot in National Harbor earlier this year. Though the festival’s musical offerings tend toward electronic fare, there are some musicians keeping the tradition of acoustic music alive.
Among these musicians is the Videri String Quartet. The Boston-based ensemble took center stage twice over the MAGFest weekend to perform tasteful arrangements of music from games like Chrono Trigger, Donkey Kong, and Journey. After their shows were over, I sat down to chat with three integral members of the group: Roselie Samter (Viola), Lizzie Jones (Violin), and David Peacock (Arranger). Lounging on the beds of their hotel room, exhausted but still reveling in the thrill of the festival, the three begin to tell me the story of their group: their mission, history, and where they’re headed next.
For some time now I have been meaning to write about the soundtrack to Titan Souls. The music was composed by David Fenn, who has also composed the music for the mobile game Telepaint! and the platformer Leaf Me Alone. If you’re not familiar with Titan Souls, it is a challenging game where the player must battle numerous large bosses armed solely with a bow and arrow while trying to avoid a one hit sudden death.
Visually it reminded me of The Legend of Zelda and Shadow of the Colossus and what really makes the game special is David Fenn’s musical score. Its use of instrumentation creates at times a sense of awe and mystery as you traverse it’s ancient environments. The music also can be adrenaline inducing with it’s excellent use of percussion and electric guitar.
Read on for our interview with David Fenn where he talks about scoring Titan Souls, and gives some insight into his musical method.
It’s been just over a week since MAGFest 2017 and a great deal of decompressing was required to be able to properly sum up this year’s experience. I was fortunate enough to see more performances than I normally would (thanks to a willingness to be dragged around), and therefore think I have a pretty good account of just how well this year’s prime Music and Gaming Festival went.
From the main stage to the underground to the secret shows, this year’s MAGFest was a solid lineup and featured a bit of everything to tickle your fancy.
With 2016 nearly over, it’s time for our tradition of highlighting our favorite game music of the year. For me, there was a lot of great material in this year’s releases. For whatever reason, I ended up listening to a lot more of the music coming from the indie game section of the industry. There were definitely soundtracks from bigger games that caught my curiosity, like Doom and Dark Souls III, but the music that I kept coming back to listen to were from this year’s smaller titles. (more…)
This year was not a very good one for me in terms of a whole lot of gaming. I couldn’t tell you if it was the drudgery of the year in general or what, but the cloud of 2016 hung over me a fair amount and as such I didn’t get too much under my belt in terms of playing anything. Fortunately I did get some exposure to awesome video game music overall; enough so to cast my votes on what I think stood out this year in terms of original game soundtracks and VGM arrangement albums.
It’s short and sweet, but I think they’re worthy of their titles.
You might find it disconcerting to read that I, as a video game music writer, didn’t find that much music in 2016 that set my heart on fire. While I penned nearly 90 posts for OSV and heard loads of great music there were only a handful of albums I’ve stuck to with a passion. I’d be hard pressed to sort out a Top Ten list but thankfully the OSVOSTOTYs are a much simpler and personal selection.
So click on in, dear readers, and find out what music from 2016 was special enough (and weird enough) to penetrate my curmudgeonly old hide.
In terms of video game music I think a lot of us were first introduced to Loudr by way of their annual Game Music Bundles. The group has become one of the go-to sources for clearing cover song licensing quickly and affordably but their digital storefront was never a great place for discoverability. As such, Loudr announced in March that it would be passing its sales business over to CD Baby and has just confirmed some important end-of-life dates for customers.
Check the full article inside for the dates, details and some tips on a few deals.
I love writing about soundtracks I’m excited for, and usually do it following E3 every year. You can read my most recent list of most anticipated soundtrack following E3 2016 here.
This past year I’ve learned about a number of soundtracks that are in the works, and I’ve collected a list of them for you. I know 2016 isn’t over yet but let me know what you think, and please let me know about all of the great upcoming album’s I’ve missed!
Who doesn’t appreciate a good viking story? How about one that’s a little less on the fantastic side and a bit more realistic? Well, that’s what you get with Burly Men at Sea.
Burly Men at Sea, developed by husband-and-wife team Brain&Brain, is described as “A folktale about a trio of large, bearded fishermen who step away from the ordinary to seek adventure.”
The indie adventure game isn’t your typical viking romp, however. It’s a tale you craft from the story choices presented to you, or rather the Beard Brothers, based on something as simple as a chart stuffed in a bottle you happen across that starts the whole thing in motion. The game surrounds itself with stylist art and a subtle soundtrack that appeals to the wayfarer in all of us.
The music, done by Chicago studio Plied Sound, is simplistic yet appropriate for the equally simple and charming construction of the game. Plied, whose work includes commercials and sound design for companies like Apple and Google, make their first foray into game music composition and uses their previous experience with stylistic sound design to bring the story of the Bearded Bros to life.
“Adventurous Deeds” – Burly Men at Sea (Plied Sound)
Brian&Brian along with Plied Sound went the way of making it so all of the sound effects in the game is comprised of vocalizations. While sound effects are emphasized over the background music, the soundtrack is no less captivating in its creativity. Acoustic guitar and individual flute work highlight a good amount of the music featured in the game, with other more native-sounding instrumentation being featured to bring about a sense of an adventure on the not-so-high seas. While a good portion of the music features a unique classical take on northern European music, some of the more creative sounds featured in the game’s music invoked the slightest bit of a Scandinavian twist on some of the sound from Katamari Damacy with a bit of a Disney cartoon flavor thrown in for good measure. This is a compliment to Plied Sound, as in a world of indie music, it’s never a bad thing to be a bit different.
“Maelstrom!” – Burly Men at Sea (Plied Sound)
The vocalizations woven within the game’s sound to help emphasize the music truly help to bring a folklorish-tint to the overall sound of the soundtrack as a whole. It captivates the player as they venture through the storybook settings and basic gameplay without getting too heavy or clashing with the feel of the game.
Burly Men at Sea is currently available on Steam and the Humble Store, as well as for mobile platforms, with the Maestro Beard Edition netting you the game’s soundtrack alongside the game. You can also pick up the soundtrack separate on Bandcamp.
I’ve been playing a lot of Dragon Quest Builders lately and while the music is delightful — especially for fans of the series with loads of rearranged themes from previous titles — it’s kind of killing me. Most sandbox crafting/survival games follow in the Minecraft mold with minimal and atmospheric soundscapes, if they incorporate music at all. Spending hours meticulously placing blocks and scavenging for resources doesn’t require a galant fanfare or sugary melodies with short loops. Without the distraction of life-threatening combat these tunes have quickly invaded my consciousness and I find them banging around in my head for hours after I’ve stopped playing.
I know what you’re going to say, “Shawn, just turn the volume down”, and in any other game that would totally work. But, you see, for unfathomable reasons you can only turn the music in Dragon Quest Builders down, never off. It’s kind of become a sticking point for some of us on the game’s subreddit and the only consolation I can think of is to ask for similar stories from our dear readers here at OSV.
Are there any soundtracks that started out great but quickly got on your nerves? A town tune or shop music that sent you running for the overworld map? Maybe a main menu theme that you left idling for too long? Share your pain in the comments below.
We have a special team-up between OSV and VGMO for the return of the podcast! (One that will likely continue moving forward.) To celebrate the Halloween season, I talk with their Oliver Jia and go into a complete nerd-out about all things Castlevania!
Special thanks to the VGMO crew for allowing me in on the podcast, and for their editing and mastering. You can check out the podcast notes here – VGMO Podcast Episode 6: Castlevania
You can also download the episode on their iTunes to listen on the go!
Happy Halloween (to those who subscribe to the holiday)! We’ve shared some of our personal favorites over the past weeks and years and now we want to hear some of your own. Truly terrifying or playfully macabre. Squirming out of ancient PC sound hardware or freshly
released deceased. Or anywhere in between.
Share some of your favorite spooky game music in the comments below and if you need a little inspiration here are a few of our recent and popular Halloween themed features: