Back in September I asked the video game music community “What Game has the most Music?” and quickly realized that MMOs are the juggernauts in this category. With updates and expansions spread out over several years, though, it’s never easy to keep track of all that music but MMOs.com is doing an admirable job. The site has been around since January and aims to cover every kind of MMO out there — from free-to-play RPGs all the way down to mobile puzzlers — including their soundtracks.
The Music section of their site currently represents nearly 200 games with curated SoundCloud playlists. This covers the heavy hitters like Guild Wars 2 and Final Fantasy XIV as well as DOTA, League of Legends and smaller/older titles like Pangya, Dofus, Trove, and many more. Each game also has a nice little wiki hub so you can read an overview with development details or MMOs’ content while listening. In most cases their playlists aren’t comprehensive but it’s turned out to be a a great place to start if you’ve got a specific MMO soundtrack in mind or — in my case — are just curious about what some of these games are.
It’s often hard as one who simply appreciates game music and isn’t in the industry to really know what happens behind the scenes with regards to how game music composers and game musicians are treated. I would wager that a fair share of us are relatively ignorant as to the trials and tribulations that game music writers and composers face when trying to obtain and keep a steady flow of reasonable work, and what sacrifices need to be made.
Recently the hashtag #PerformanceMatters appeared trending on Twitter in regards to the plight that video game voice actors face in the games industry in terms of fair work for fair wages and worker’s rights. The hashtag made the general gaming public aware of some of the poor conditions video game VAs face from some of the biggest names in voice acting and got people talking. It also started to raise questions about how other aspects of video games fare in terms of treatment of their respective “parts”. Internet and Youtube game reviewer John “Total Biscuit” Bain raised the question as to how video game composers might also be treated in the industry.
It’s October, which means it’s officially Halloween month. For the next five weeks, Arrangement of the Week will be featuring some of our favorite Halloween themed game music. This will of course include music from horror titles, but there will also be some selections from specific macabre themed sections of games. This week we will be starting out with an example of the latter.
Rare’s Banjo-Kazzoie has a good deal of variety to its levels. While the game contains your usual snow, dessert, and forest levels, there’s also a great Halloween themed level called Mad Monster Mansion. This level’s music has a light-hearted playfulness to it, much like the rest of the soundtrack, while still keeping it in a classic spooky horror genre. Today’s arrangement, “Malevolent Mansion,” is an electronic remix of “Mad Monster Mansion” from artists Sole Signal and Nekofrog.
The track starts at a steady pace and at first it feels like this will be a relatively mellow dance track. But once the main melody comes in, the piece launches into a more energetic interpretation. While the primary elements of this remix remain the electronic instruments, there’s also a healthy dose of orchestral instruments and accompaniment from Nekofrog’s guitar parts.
What makes this remix really enjoyable is the continuing shifts in pacing and energy. The arrangement jumps frequently between fast paced electronic rock and a less manic orchestral arrangement. This unpredictability in pacing and tone gives the impression of a wild and crazy haunted house ride. The overall result is a piece that remains surprising and fun to listen to all the way through. A perfect way to get into the Halloween spirit.
Have any favorite Halloween arrangements, remixes, or covers of your favorite game music? Feel free to share them with us in the comments below. You can check out Sole Signal and Nekofrog’s “Malevolent Mansion” at OC Remix.
Shiryu has just released an album that is a culmination of his twenty years experimenting with the music of the Wipeout series. The album is titled The Wipeout Legacy Perfect Lap Edition and is a digital release collecting six albums, and just under six hours of music! This is how he describes his journey in creating this release:
I have stated this before but it is always nice to remember: There would not be Shiryu Music if not for “Wipeout”. It was the game and it’s sequels that stirred the already ongoing pot of wanting to know how to make those sounds. This special edition is a compilation of all my previous works, including all four original releases plus an “The Outer Haven Sessions” EP. I often wonder if this is my Magnum Opus… will I ever do something as great as these tracks in the future? Or like “Wipeout” my time shinning on stage is running out and I am destined to be forgotten? Time will tell. Hope you enjoy discovering or rediscovering these tracks, each filled with fond memories of the time I made them.” – Shiryu
The album is available on Shiryu Music’s bandcamp page for 15 Euros which is a bit under $20 USD. Also available for 2 Euros, is the EP The Wipeout Legacy: The Outer Haven Sessions which is his latest Wipeout creation and a perfect compliment to The Perfect Lap Edition. I now have the perfect music for my next road trip.
Are you a fan of the music from the Wipeout series?
The majority of the conversation around Metal Gear Solid V’s music has been about the game’s licensed 80’s tracks. Set in 1984, the game’s huge environments are peppered with boomboxes at desert outposts and hostile facilities that belt out some of the most popular tracks of the decade. “Rebel Yell”, “She Blinded Me With Science” and “The Final Countdown” are just a few of the ‘Top 40’ mega hits you can find in the game. But there’s another collection of cassette tapes out in the game world full of original music, the majority of which aren’t featured on either of the game’s soundtrack releases.
These songs feel much more like the Metal Gear music we’ve come to expect. No, there’s no smoldering stealth sax from Norihiko Hibino or 60’s spy funk like Snake Eater but these tracks serve as fitting ambiance for a Metal Gear game. They sound like they could’ve come from the 80’s and yet somehow still fit the overall themes of The Phantom Pain’s main soundtrack. I really want to call out a few of these songs in particular because the original music is easily overshadowed by the licensed stuff.
Combining an edgier synth sound, a shade of New Order’s darker guitar rock and growling lyrical samples, “Behind the Drapery” could’ve come from an obscure German Industrial group you discovered on a newsgroup. Similarly themed is “Nitrogen” with its dark synthwave arrangement. It’s perfectly paced and just subtle enough to load up on Snake’s Walkman to accompany a midnight sneaking mission.
Another good sneaking track is “The Tangerine” which is closest in style to Metal Gear Solid 2’s ambient music. A simple synth melody sets the pace while a soulful horn slowly rises and falls. Add in a hint of guitar wafting by and you could close your eyes and be back on the Big Shell. It’s also nice and long and easy to set your Walkman to loop it in the game.
Especially noteworthy is “How ‘bout them zombies ey?”, which I’d boil down to an EDM hommage to Michiru Yamane’s Castlevania sound. It’s really quite an incredible amalgamation of autotuned vocal samples, synth bass and organs. It’s got multiple breakdowns and just has a wonderful, dark 80’s synth feel. More than any other track, this is the one I get stuck in my head most often.
On the lighter side, “Take the D.W.” could easily be an instrumental version of an anime theme song. Maybe that’s the idea as there are several tongue-in-cheek posters in the game along those lines. Regardless, it’s full of bright keys that pop along while a tinny synth saws out a fun melody. Similarly light is “Ride a White Horse”, a nice soft rock style piece with some touching guitar and synth movements. If this were in Snake Eater I would totally expect it to greatly refill your stamina.
These are just a few of the 25 tracks on Music Tape 1. You can take a listen to the entire selection with this playlist and don’t forget to check out the Original Soundtrack Selection and the new Vocal Tracks album, out now on iTunes. And if you came here looking for those “real songs” from the game and you read this far I’ll throw you a link too.
You may have already seen the reveal of Cartoon Network and Turbo Button’s VR action game, Adventure Time: Magic Man’s Head Games, but did you hear it? Like a good VR camera system that doesn’t nauseate everyone who sees it, music is one of those under-appreciated elements of game design. For Magic Man’s Head Games award-winning composer, Erik Desiderio (SMS Racing, This Means War!), was given free reign to take the franchise in new directions. That’s resulted in a quirky and organic theme song with players on banjo, horns, fretless electric bass, harmonica, accordion, and more. Oh, and there’s lots of whistling.
“I was a huge fan of the show before being contacted about this project,” notes composer Erik Desiderio. “I especially enjoyed the first episode with Magic Man, who acts as the primary antagonist for this game. The playful nature of the Adventure Time universe afforded me the opportunity to work with some of my frequent collaborators and incorporate lots of fun instruments. Somehow, though, despite their various talents, everyone insisted that they be able to whistle on the soundtrack. I had no choice but to comply and join in myself!”
The results can be seen and heard above in a new music video featuring the theme song to the game. The video is a live action mosaic of the performers alongside footage from the game which is available for free on the Samsung Gear VR store. The game itself takes inspiration from classic 3D platformers like Banjo-Kazooie with Jake even riding in Finn’s backpack. The player observes the action through the VR headset from a third-person perspective where Jake’s stretchy limbs help ease some of the jerky, nauseating camera movements that VR users frequently run into.
Check it out!
Another highly anticipated album, Seiken Densetsu/Legend of Mana Arrangement Album: Promise featuring arrangements of music by Yoko Shimomura will be released on September 30, 2015.
Square Enix Music has posted samples of all the albums 12 tracks which you can listen to here. The translated English track list is as follows:
|01||Hometown of Domina|
|02||To the Sea|
|04||Legend of Mana|
|07||Singing Wind, Journey’s Path|
|08||Tango Appassionata – As the Heart Wills|
|09||Such Cruel Fate|
|10||Seven Shades of Life – Bejeweled City in Ruins|
|11||Nostalgic Song Reprise – Finale|
|12||Song of MANA|
From what I’ve heard of the samples, the majority of the music has a soul bossa nova sound to it. The album is available for pre-order from Square Enix Music. Is this an album you’re looking forward to?
New from GameChops this past week is the second release from electronic artist, Doni, following his 2013 Mario RPG remix EP, Goombette. His latest release, Button Masher Remastered, is a full length album that pays tribute to the video game music of the 8 and 16-bit eras as well as the styles of electronic music popular at the time. The ten tracks feature console and handheld favorites reworked in the styles of deep house, techno, chill-out and more. Here’s the full tracklist:
01. Try Hard (Donkey Kong Country 2 – Stickerbrush Symphony)
02. Icy Strings (Secret of Mana – A Bell is Tolling)
03. Midnight Mass (Pokemon Red/Blue – Lavender Town)
04. Mario’s Garage (Super Mario Kart – Rainbow Road)
05. Deep Freeze Shuffle (StarTropics 2 – Ice Age)
06. Hard to Choose (Mega Man 3 – Stage Select)
07. Impending Something (Marble Madness – Stage 2)
08. Staring Off (Final Fantasy X – Mt. Gagazet)
09. The Bubbledrone (Mega Man 2 – Bubble Man)
10. Nostalgic Tides (Chrono Cross – Dream of a Shore)
You can sample some of the tracks and hear both “Try Hard” and “Icy Strings” in their entirety with the playlist embedded above. When you’re ready for the full album you can grab it on iTunes, Google Play and Loudr for $7. If you chip in $10 or more on Loudr you’ll also get the Goombette EP.
In this 11th edition of Game Soundtracks for Your Soul, like Spinal Tap I’m turning things up to 11. What I mean by this is I am looking back at some game music that at the time took game music to the next level.
There are some tracks that once you heard them you knew that what you were about to play was going to be the next level of gaming. So turn your speakers or headphones up to 11 (if you can) and come listen to some of the video game music tracks that for me, took the genre to places I never thought possible.
If you’re a fan of Jesper Kyd, Assassin’s Creed or Ubisoft’s game soundtracks and you love physical goods, you’ve got reason to celebrate today. Video game music label, Sumthing Else, has announced a multi-title deal with Ubisoft to bring a number of their game soundtracks to CD and vinyl, starting with Assassin’s Creed. Available as of September 25th, the run kicks off with five huge soundtracks:
Assassin’s Creed Original Game Soundtrack by Jesper Kyd
Assassin’s Creed II Original Game Soundtrack (2-CD) by Jesper Kyd
Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood Original Game Soundtrack by Jesper Kyd
Assassin’s Creed Revelations The Complete Recordings (3-CD) by Jesper Kyd and Lorne Balfe
Assassin’s Creed III Original Soundtrack by Lorne Balfe
The remaining titles in the series — Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag (with a separate Sea Shanty album) and Assassin’s Creed Unity Volumes 1 & 2 — will be published in October on CD and select titles on vinyl. While the big focus is on Assassin’s Creed, the deal also covers an array of Ubisoft franchises including Far Cry, Prince of Persia, Rayman and Splinter Cell, all coming soon with details to be announced.
Which Ubisoft albums are you most excited for? I’d personally love to own a Prince of Persia: Sands of Time album and, of course, almost anything from Rayman.
Sometimes you read the description of an arrangement and wonder how on earth it could possibly work. When I first discovered today’s arrangement, I was skeptical about hearing a metal cover of a Kirby Super Star track. When I think of the music of Kirby games, I usually imagine something bright, energetic, and upbeat. However, I usually like to give something an opportunity to surprise me and today’s arrangement has done just that.
“The Savior of Dreamland” is an orchestral metal arrangement of “Coliseum Battle” by frequent OC Remix contributor Sixto Sounds. Sixto has a reputation for creating some truly impressive arrangements of videogame tunes. The original track plays in the Arena mode of Kirby Super Star, which is that game’s boss rush mode. It’s all about battling big baddies, so perhaps the match up of metal in this arrangement isn’t as far fetched as I’d initially thought.
The piece starts of quietly with a lone guitar, but charges up straight into distorted guitar riffs of the main chord progression. A lead guitar comes in with the melody and for a while it sounds like this will be a straight forward electric guitar cover. However, at 1’31” brass and strings enter in to join the rhythm guitar as harmonic back-up. The affect of this is a metal arrangement that has a strong flamenco flavor to it. Quite an appropriate tone for music from a battle arena. You can almost picture Kirby as a bull fighter entering the ring to face his opponents.
The orchestral instruments don’t take a back seat for this arrangement either. At 2’30” a trumpet takes over the melody for the guitar. Eventually the piece returns to a mostly electric guitar mix, with Sixto Sounds performing some impressive lead solo work before concluding the arrangement. An impressive interpretation, that surprisingly finds a way to stay true to the source material and delivers an excellent listening experience.
Have you discovered any surprising metal interpretations of your favorite game music? Let us know in the comments below. You can check out Sixto Sounds’ “The Savior of Dream Land” on OC Remix.
I don’t normally go for point and click adventure games but Wailing Heights is combining a lot of stuff I like. Graphic novel styled artwork, a monster village filled with vegan werewolves and hipster vampires, and the promise of a musical adventure in both gameplay and story.
You wake up in Wailing Heights’ prison as Frances Finklestein, former manager of the greatest 60’s rock band, and have to find a way to escape this purgatory. You’re quickly introduced to the “body-hop”, a musical mechanic that lets you jump between characters and escape your cell, but you still have to find a way to free your own body. Given that this is an adventure game it’s not going to be as easy as simply finding a key.
Exploring the Heights, interacting with characters and “borrowing” their unique abilities, you’ll explore a story created by Kevin Beimers (Hector: Badge of Carnage, Schrodinger’s Cat) realized through that gorgeous comic art style. But the music, critical as it is to the experience, is still a bit of a mystery. You can get an idea of the vibe they’re going for in the announcement trailer above but exactly how it all figures into the gameplay is still a secret. It sounds great, though, and very much a unique soundtrack for an adventure game if it holds to this style.