HMV Canada is offering 2 for $20 ( with the exchange rate roughly $14 USD) on several CDS including game soundtracks. I visited the downtown Toronto location recently and noticed the majority of game soundtracks they stocked on the Sumthing Records labelled was included in this incredible deal. HMV stands for His Master’s Voice, which is associated with the famous image associated with RCA Victor and a dog starring at a gramophone. When I hear about a sale on game music CDs it gets my attention.
You can check the store stock at a location near you using the their website. However, each store’s selection may vary and you might just have to go in person to see what is available. In order to be eligible for the sale the CD must have the Yellow 2 for $20 stickers in the above picture of the CDs I purchased. The titles I saw on sale included many titles in the Assassin’s Creed series, Borderlands, Bloodborne, Castlevania Lords of Shadow: Mirror of Fate, Metro: Last Night, Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles, and The Last of Us.
If you’re living in, or planning on travelling to Canada you may want to check on a HMV location to see if you can snag yourself some great game music. Do you own any of these great soundtracks on CD?
If you’re like I am and are really into mindscrew gaming with equally chilling music accompanying it, then I suggest you check out the indie title by Fancy Fish Games I Can’t Escape: Darkness and its soundtrack. Recently released on Youtube by the game’s composer Chase Bethea is his detailing of the game and how he went about creating the sound and music to compliment the psychological horror aspects surrounding the gameplay, which focuses on exploring and ultimately trying to escape a creepy mysterious dungeon with untold abominations potentially around every turn.
Watching the video and listening to Chase talk about how he crafted the music around how the gameplay works and trying to keep it just distracting enough for the player is fascinating and gives some interesting perspective towards how good psychological thriller gaming is constructed. Taking inspiration from games akin to I Can’t Escape: Darkness, such as Tomb Raider and Silent Hill and layering on top of those, Bethea goes into detail about how he added retro elements to the game’s score to create a unique experience.
I Can’t Escape: Darkness is currently out on Steam (Even on sale right now thanks to the Lunar New Year sale!) and something worth checking out, especially after watching this mini documentary regarding its music. It’s always fascinating going into the background of game’s music composition and the creativity the composers draw from and how it affects what they create. You can also grab the game’s music on Bethea’s Bandcamp page.
MAGFest attendees may have bathed in the percussive bliss of Rekcahdam in the past while backing up numerous performers but this year he finally has his own show. Friday night he’ll be making his main stage debut at 7pm as the second chiptune performance of the evening. But before you go, Know Your MAG.
Rekcahdam, otherwise known as Roger Hicks, was introduced to music at an early age thanks to his father’s love of jazz music and his church’s need for a drummer. By high school he was programming, composing lyrics and producing his own music. It’s a combination of passions and skills that have continued to weave together as he has worked as composer, designer and programmer on several projects.
One of the earliest was Celestial Mechanica, an action/puzzle/adventure game created with Paul Veer where he served as programmer, composer and sound designer. Shortly after he coded his own web-based, 8-bit music sequencer called Pulse Boy. He then spearheaded the 25 Year Legend project, a collaboration of indie game composers inspired by The Legend of Zelda featuring Disasterpeace, Hyperduck Soundworks, Laura Shigihara, C418 and so many more.
After composing soundtracks for Seedling, Devil’s Dare and more, programming for Lume iOS and Famaze, and serving as session drummer on Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe, he’s undertaking his biggest challenge yet. Not only is he designing, coding and composing the original game, Band Saga, he’s basically starring in it.
The ambitious 2D music/action roguelike looks even more infectious than its closest contemporary, Crypt of the Necrodancer. Beyond bopping along to the beats, everything in Band Saga generates musical elements allowing players to compose their own unique song as they play and even augment its instrumentation. After a successful Kickstarter campaign Band Saga was picked up for publishing by Playism last September and is currently in development.
Between all that he’s still found the time to make it to MAGFest and put on a show with visuals provided by ohhinaifu. There’s still time to pick up tickets and attend so head over to the MAGFest registration page to get in.
After a year of exhaustive work, Ninja Gaiden composer Keiji Yamagishi is back again with “Retro-Active Pt. 2”, the followup to his chart-topper debut Retro-Active Pt. 1. The new album finds him exploring various styles and genres, in addition to a special collaboration with Ninja Gaiden II composer Ryuichi Nitta. “When it comes to musical expression, I believe there’s a greater potential to be found within the chiptune genre”, says Yamagishi about his new work. “I expanded on the ideas found in Retro-Active Pt. 1, and I tried to fuse different genres in an effort to make a unique soundscape.”
You can listen to the new album which spans a total of 7 tracks below. I have listened to the whole thing already and can say that its a wonderful follow up to the first album. Stemage provided the guitar work for tracks 2, and 4 to 6. The seventh track on the album is a sweet remix of the album’s sixth track “Eastern Sky” by Saori Kobayashi, who is currently working on her next Brave Wave release TERRA MAGICIA.
Retro-Active Part 2 is available at Brave Wave’s online store as a digital download for $8 USD. What do you think of this latest release from Brave Wave Productions?
Many of the game music remixes out there focus on soundtracks from earlier console and platform generations for their source material. However, every once and a while more recent material gets a chance to shine. For this week’s Arrangement of the Week we will be looking at an electronic dance remix of a piece from Super Mario 3D World.
The source track is the “World Bowser” map theme, which has been arranged by Flexstyle and XPRTNovice. The remix, titled “Caravan Bowser” is part of a collaborative album Super Cartography Bros., which as the name implies focusses on the map music from various Super Mario Bros. games.
The track is an interesting mixture of genres. There’s your standard EDM elements present of course, but its combination with the live gypsy jazz instrument performances from XPRTNovice really helps give the track a unique sound. The rhythm guitar parts blend well with the percussion and the various solo instruments find their space in the mix without fighting against the other music elements.
The electronic instruments get their time to shine in the remix as well. At around the 1’20” mark the acoustic instruments drop out and let the synth instruments have the spotlight. The track has a wonderfully upbeat feel that is maintained throughout the track’s runtime. All in all, it’s a great blend of jazz and EDM from an unlikely source.
Have you heard any cool game music EDM remixes this week? Let us know in the comments below. You can check out the “Caravan Bowser” track and the full Super Cartography Bros. album on the album’s OC ReMix page.
MAGFest has three days of chiptune performances lined up on the main stage this year. It all culminates with a CHIP RAVE that daringly, brazenly lasts “until we are done, baby!”. Amidst that chaos of square waves and laser lights will be Chipzel. So let’s get to Know Your MAG.
Born in Northern Ireland, Niamh Houston discovered the chiptune scene around 2006 and quickly set out to explore the space in her own way with Game Boys in hand. In the following years she released several original albums and performed at Blip Festival 2011 before being contacted by Terry Cavanagh about a game jam project called Hexagon.
Later in 2012 Cavanagh would set out to recreate his game jam entry in a super way and once again contacted Chipzel about her music. Creating an original track for Super Hexagon motivated her to get much more involved with game soundtracks. After nearly two years she released her first large scale project, the 55-track score to Interstellaria which you can read much more about in our review. It took so long that she released another soundtrack in between for the twitchy neon arcade racer, Spectra.
And now she’s traveling far overseas from her home in London to perform amongst the chiptune artists on Saturday night at the MAGFest Chip Rave. Her portion of the show will be lit, animated and overscanned by the Visualist stylings of Pixelseed, aka Sean Smith from the local Baltimore area. Check her out!
Leading up to its release on February 9th, the team at Coldwood Interactive have been spinning up the hype machine for their title that surprised everyone at E3, Unravel. Revealed on the same stage where Pele relived the majesty of futbol and DICE showed off their million dollar investment in Star Wars was this tiny, sweet little yarn character helping an old lady rebuild her memories.
Introduced by Creative Director, Martin Sahlin, as a “story of love, longing and mending broken bonds” it’s no surprise that the music sounds perfectly, painfully on par. He goes on to describe it as a score to “break your heart and put it back together again” which is way more evocative a description than I could write from the clips I’ve heard so far.
To create the music the Swedish team at Coldwood turned to local musicians familiar with the locations and style that the visuals are based on. Henrik Oja and Frida Johansson collaborated to create a soundtrack that builds on traditional Swedish instruments and folk music to capture the personal story of a single family. It’s also a dynamic score that builds and swings to match the gameplay as Yarny explores the world, puzzling out predicaments by unraveling his own yarn.
You can listen to some of the music and hear more about the soundtrack in the video below.
Koichi Sugiyama may not be a familiar name to a lot of gamers in the West, but he is a very well known figure in Japan. He is the man behind the music of the Dragon Quest series (originally released as Dragon Warrior in the West), which despite having only achieved an overall modest success in the United States, is very popular in Japan. Koichi Sugiyama’s style for the music that he writes for the Dragon Quest games is very unique, and it has been a significant influence on other video game music composers as well. I’ll be going through some of his work on the primary games of the Dragon Quest series and taking a look at what makes his music uniquely his, and how his style has changed over the course of the series.
Jon Everist, who has composed the music for Shadowrun: Hong Kong and my choice for the composer of the year in 2015 has just released six tracks from his score to the upcoming Indie Game Necropolis. Necropolis is a gorgeous looking game of brutal combat and survival, set in a magical deathtrap that shifts and reconstructs itself around you. It’s tag line is: “Will you find the exit, or die trying?” I have listened to all six tracks and have to say that I can’t wait to hear the rest of the score, it’s dark, intriguing, and at times mesmerizing. My personal favorite track so far is the groovy “Official PAXEast Trailer Music”.
You can watch the trailer to the game which is made by HarebrainedSchemes below which reminds me a bit of Dark Souls meets The Legend of Zelda: The Windwaker.
Jon Everist has more of his music available on his Soundcloud page which I recommend you check out. I exchanged emails with Jon Everist after I bought his Shadowrun: Hong Kong CD Soundtrack, he said that his next big project is scoring the music to Battletech and working with a 66 piece orchestra. You can follow the status of both of this upcoming games on the HarebrainedSchemes website.
What do you think of the first six tracks from Necropolis?
Battletoads is one of those games that lives in infamy for a few things, such as its ridiculous speed bike challenge and it’s simplistically catchy pause music. That last one you can chalk up to composer David Wise, who worked his magic on the 1991 beat ’em up. Recently, the video series “Rare Revealed” goes through recalling the history of game developer Rare, and includes talking with Wise about his time working on composing for games, including Battletoads.
It also includes him treating the viewer to an impromptu piano performance of the Battletoads Theme at 3:32.
Definitely a fun video to watch if your a fan of Battletoads, Wise or just learning about Rare’s history through gaming. You can check out the rest of the Rare Revealed/Replay videos on their Youtube channel.
For this week’s installment of Arrangement of the Week, we’re returning to another cover of a track from Ys III: Wanderers from Ys. The game’s soundtrack exists in a few variations thanks to its availability on a number of platforms with different sound chips. Much of the music lends itself well to rock interpretations, as is the case for this cover of “Steeling the Will to Fight.”
The artist for this arrangement is Ansgaros who created a high energy metal interpretation of the track called “Fire Still Burns in My Frozen Heart.”
For the opening sections of this cover, Ansgaros actually sticks relatively close to the marching pace and tone that is set in the original track. But after about a minute, he starts kicking things into high gear. There’s plenty of inhumanely fast drums, some energetic guitar parts, and a decent amount of synth strings that balance well against the rest of the instruments.
One of the things that makes this arrangement work well is that there are occasional breaks between the more intense guitar and drum sections. These contrasting segments transition back and forth rather well, so the cover never sounds disjointed or jarring. These calmer sections also give the listener some breathing room in between the more high-energy guitar sections. Overall, an excellent metal arrangement of music from Ys III: Wanderers from Ys.
Have you heard any good metal covers of game music? Let us know in the comments below. You can check out and download Ansgaros’s “Fire Still Burns in My Frozen Heart” on OC Remix.
It’s been a while since I first posted about Wailing Heights, a macabre musical adventure game from Outsider Games. Since their reveal announcement back in September the team has moved into the Top 30 on Steam Greenlight. To celebrate the game’s ongoing coverage and positive reaction they’ve released a new trailer featuring the 60’s stylings of The Deadbeats.
The Deadbeats are the world renowned band that Frances Finklestein to manage back when he had a body. In the land of Wailing Heights he finds himself doing the “body-hop” to jump from hipster vampire to Motown zombie, all in the search for a way to reunite with his body.