S-S-S-Silence Breaaaaker! With seemingly no advanced notice, famed Rare composer Graeme Norgate (GoldenEye, Perfect Dark, Timesplitters) has pushed three Killer Instinct albums out to Bandcamp. The most exciting of which is the return of Remastered, Rare and Remixed, containing the first-ever stereo versions of the original Killer Instinct arcade music. It also includes five of Norgate’s original source tracks before Air Studios mixed them down for the 1995 fan favorite Killer Cuts CD. The album was originally released on Bandcamp in 2012 but was pulled offline late in 2014 until now.
Remastered, Rare and Remixed is priced at £3 ($4.35 US) but the other two albums are pay-what-you-want releases. One contains the 16 main themes from the Super NES version of the game and the other offers 14 tracks from the Game Boy rendition of Killer Instinct. From souped up arcade tracks to the sample heavy SNES version to the rarely mentioned chiptune stylings of the Game Boy, it’s quite a Killer Instinct collection for as little as $7.
If you’re not a guru of the Japanese game music scene, then you might not yet heard of the group Basiscape. The group is comprised of nine composers and sound designers and headed by Hitoshi Sakimoto (Final Fantasy XII, Valkyria Chronicles). Sakimoto created the group, along with Masaharu Iwata (Ogre Battle, Final Fantasy Tactics) and Manabu Namiki (Bloody Roar, Contra ReBirth)
Basiscape provides complete sound and music production services for all digital mediums including video games, television series, film and television commercials.
With our artists and staff carrying out projects of any scope and size, Basiscape delivers the utmost excellence in quality and creativity, while keeping with the usual tight deadlines of the industry.
The group has been responsible for a huge amount of video game soundtracks over the course of the past decade, including Odin Sphere, Muramasa: The Demon Blade, Dragon’s Crown and more. The mobile game Metal Saga: The Ark of Wastes, the fifth game in the Metal Max series, was composed by Basiscape and Yoshimi Kudo (Tekken 6). Grand Kingdom will also see its soundtrack released on June 23rd by Basiscape and composer Mitsuhiro Kaneda. Valkyria Chronicles Original Soundtrack was recently released in its full orchestral glory as well.
“Main Theme” – Valkyria Chronicles
However, they’ve been making the rounds on the indie game music scene recently. The recently launched Kickstarter for the indie rogue-like adventure game Death Story by Team Neko features a stretch goal which would bring Sakimoto and Iwata on to compose the main theme for the game, so fans can contribute to see to it the game receives a fantastic contributing score.
Don’t be surprised if you see Basiscape’s name continue to pop up in the near future, so keep an eye out for Sakimoto and his team on upcoming titles!
Last month, the fifth annual Ludomusicology conference was held at the University of Southampton in Southampton, England. If you’re not familiar with Ludomusicology, well that wouldn’t be a big surprise. Ludomusicology is a pretty new and pretty small field, and it is the academic study of video game music. Given the nature of video game music, this can include mixes of disciplines from musicology to ethnomusicology, music theory, and even audio engineering and programming. A conference is held each year where ludomusicologists share presentations on their work and offer feedback.
I attended Ludo 2016 primarily from my love of video game music and music theory. I had no paper to present, but I went and listened to learn about what people were working on and to meet them and talk with them, and came away excited for what the future of the field will bring.
A few weeks ago, Shaun posed the question of what the very first game soundtrack album you ever heard was. This got me thinking of my own past dealing with video game music and getting into “the scene”, as it were. I started thinking about the first time I started looking up game music on the internet (circa 1999-ish?), which lead to my eventual discovery of video game music *remixes*. While arranging game music had been something people had been doing for a a while prior to the internet really gaining traction, sites like Overclocked Remix & VGMix became the centralized places for potential arrangers to congregate and show off their works by the early 2000’s. The scene grew to the point musicians were challenging one anothers abilities in arrangement competitions, and thus places like Dwelling of Duels were created.
So this got my brain juices flowing in my quest to remember what my very video game music remix was. (No small task, as my memory is shite.) Having scrolled through the plethora the old arrangements I’d saved over the course of almost a decade an a half of saved remixes, I settled on two that clicked the lightbulb in my brain. I’m not sure which one came first as I’d discovered them pretty much at the same time in 2000. Back then I’d stuck to the game music I’d been limited to as a kid, which was 90% Sega Genesis titles, which some Amiga, NES and Gameboy thrown in here and there for variety.
Castlevania being one of my most beloved game series back then (despite only owning 2 titles, and playing others elsewhere), I remember somehow traipsing across an arrangement from Castlevania The Adventure by Mike “McVaffe” Vafeas called “Tempest Mix“. Trance and techno music appealed to me heavily back in those days, and this arrangement of “Revenge” from Castlevania Adventure hit the spot for me. It had just enough of the source to grab me and keep my head bobbing for days. This is the same reason I’d come across the other arrangement I remember as being one of the two “firsts” I’d found. Golden Axe was another penultimate title for me as a kid, so “Death Adder Trance” by OCR founder David “djpretzel” Lloyd also hit the spot in terms of appealing to my love of Golden Axe’s music, in this case level 1’s “Wilderness”, and satisfying my fixation on dance-able music. For years I’d pop both of these tracks on from my burned CDs of remix music I’d accumulated and blast them in my beat-up Buick Century.
So what was your first video game music remix? It doesn’t have to be your favorite, but the first you remember listening to ever. Were you specifically looking for arrangements from a certain game? Where’d you find it? Let us know in the comments!
The upcoming game Deus Ex: Mankind Divided will be adding some more manpower to its original soundtrack. Beyond Michael McCann (Deus Ex: Human Revolution) returning to compose for the game, award-winning artist Sascha Dikiciyan (aka Sonic Mayhem) will also be brought in to compose select tracks for the game’s score.
Dikiciyan has a sizable repertoire under his belt, having contributed to the soundtracks of games like Quake II, Borderlands 2, Mass Effect 3 and several others. He collaborates with other composers (such as Cris Velasco of Bloodborne and Battleborne) under the name Sonic Mayhem to create much of his works.
It was important for us to build upon the strong foundation of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, but also to let it stand on its own. Along the way, we realized this game was much vaster than anticipated and we made the choice to add another composer to the team. Sascha Dikiciyan’s music stood out. After talking with Sascha, it became clear that we shared the same vision and passion for what musically drives Deus Ex. ” – Steve Szczepkowski, Executive Audio Director
You can hear Dikiciyan’s work within the recent trailers for Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, which comes out in August with the soundrack to follow shortly thereafter on Sumthing Else Music Works.
Last March the French team at Midgar Studio broke their $130,000 Kickstarter goal and officially brought legendary composer Yasunori Mitsuda onto their project, Edge of Eternity. You might be able to guess by the studio’s name alone that Edge of Eternity is an indie love letter to classic Japanese RPGs.
That makes Mitsuda an especially important contributor as he’s provided the music for classics in the genre like Chrono Trigger and Xenogears as well as more modern offerings like Shadow Hearts and Soul Sacrifice.
Over a year later, Midgar Studio is ready to reveal some of the work that Mitsuda and sound designer Cedric Menendez have created with the Bratislava Symphony Orchestra in Slovakia. Above you can check out a painfully brief clip from the recording session and hear a few of Mitsuda’s 12 themes and compositions for the game.
Midgar Studio also released a longer video from the game itself. Set against Active Time Battles and glowing special effects, the music is perfectly fitting for a Square inspired RPG and does a lot to amp up the work-in-progress footage.
The soundtrack for the new indie RPG strategy sandbox game Kenshi has now dropped for your listening pleasure!
Available on Steam in early access, Kenshi is a free-roaming RPG with squad-based combat and several class types for you to group up and roam the open-world environment with your team. The soundtrack of the game is equally diverse, being composed by Kole Hicks (Pixel Privateers) and featuring some unique style in its composition.
The music system in Kenshi has been designed in such a way, that as you play through the game the engine randomly selects from a handful of different musical elements to create new compositional excerpts. It is this ambient approach and “non-player interactivity” of the music that reinforces Kenshi’s indifferent tone. – Kenshi Bandcamp Page
The music does indeed seem random in its style, but it’s not jarring or off-putting as one might think. Although the title might make one think the music would be Asian-inspired, rest assured that the soundtrack has a good blend of several styles, including a title that actually makes me think a little bit of Diablo‘s “Tristram”, which is never a bad thing.
Ryan Richko who is fairly new as a composer to the video game music scene has just composed two fun brief soundtracks to the mobile games Memory Match and Catch and Dragon Drop. I absolutely adored Ryan Richko’s work on the music for Telepath Tactics which you can read about here. Since then I have been eager to hear more, and although these two soundtracks are brief I was not disappointed.
So come read about Memory Match and Catch which is available now, and the soundtrack to Dragon Drop which is coming soon.
If you follow game music remixes at all, you’re no doubt familiar with the acapella game music arrangements from artist Smooth McGroove. He’s covered Mega Man, Super Mario, Undertale, Final Fantasy, and many more of our favorite game soundtracks. Last year a group of ten music artists collaborated to create a remix album of some of Smooth’s game arrangements, titled Smooth McGrove Remixed. Yes, it’s game arrangements of game arrangements. Cue the Inception music!
While all of the tracks on this album are worth a listen, I’ll be highlighting the track that put the collection on my radar in the first place. This particular remix comes from Ben Briggs who adapted Smooth McGroove’s cover of the “Super Mario Bros. 2 Overworld Theme.”
While this is a remix by Ben Briggs, McGroove’s vocal performances remain the focal point for a majority of the track. The source tune itself was already upbeat and energetic, but the combination of McGroove’s interpretation and the chiptune sounds and drum beats from Briggs brings up that energy even more. There are some other fun sonic touches like the use of the New Super Mario Bros. vocal pads and Mario voice clips that add to the charm as well.
Ben Briggs brings in some melodic musings of his own to the remix, including references to other Mario games like Paper Mario and the original Super Mario Brothers. As the track progresses the synth instruments start to take over more of the remix, with some instances of the original vocals dropping out completely. It’s a fun mashup of styles and this remix along with the others on the Smooth McGroove Remixed album are worth checking out if you haven’t already.
You can check out the full Smooth McGroove Remixed album on the GameChops page and you can of course find Smooth McGroove’s own acappella arrangements on his YouTube channel and on Loudr. Additionally, you can find more remixes from Ben Briggs on his Bandcamp page.
You may or may not know this, but I am a huge Turrican II fan, so it thrills me to see that the game’s composer, Chris Huelsbeck, has launched a follow-up crowdfunding campaign to his Turrican Soundtrack Anthology from a few years ago that focuses specifically on turning the music of Turrican II into a new orchestral album.
Turrican II: The Orchestral Album celebrates the 25th anniversary of the game’s launch on the Commodore Amiga in 1991 by proposing the creation of an entire new music album comprised of orchestral arrangements of some the most iconic music from the game, recorded by the FILMharmonic Orchestra Prague and produced by Thomas Böcker, Roger Wanamo and Jonne Valtonen at Merregnon Studios, along with Huelsbeck himself.
Turrican II – The Orchestral Album will feature nearly an hour of completely new, never before heard, orchestral arrangements of some of the most popular pieces of music from Turrican II. Tracks planned for the album include The Final Fight, Freedom, The Great Bath, Concerto for Lasers and Enemies and The Desert Rocks. We will be revealing more tracks as the project progresses. Depending on the campaign’s success, all backers will get to hear Turrican II’s orchestral beauty from December this year. – Kickstarter
On top of the new music, there’s also a bunch of new artwork created specifically for the album, which will be features as high-quality prints available in a handful of the tiers in the campaign. This is on top of the album itself, which is available in digital format at the $15 tier, physical CD at the $30 tier and in a 2-record vinyl release for the $65 tier. (Along with everything from lower tiers.)
The campaign is currently about halfway through meeting it’s basic funding goal of $75,000 with half of a month still to go, so fans (like me) of the Turrican Soundtrack Anthology and Huelsbeck’s other albums such as Symphonic Shades should keep their eyes on this.
If you haven’t had a chance to check out A Fox In Space yet, you can watch it below. It is an impressive fan-made animated parody based on Nintendo’s Starfox created by Matthew Gafford. The music for the original SNES FX chip enchanced cartridge was composed by Hajime Hirasawa, and the creators of the unofficial animated series have created some wonderful arrangements of the classic themes from the original game. The playlist has been available on YouTube for a while but it’s worth checking out. The intro music reminded me a bit of Yoko Kanno’s work on Cowboy Bebop, but really it’s just some smooth jazz at work – all performed by the show’s creator Matthew Gafford.
You can watch the excellent first 13 minutes of A Fox In Space here:
You can follow all the latest news about the series including upcoming episodes and music on the show’s tumblr.
What do you think of the music in A Fox From Space? Is there a theme from the video game series you would like to hear get a jazzy arrangement in a future episode?
I’ll be taking over the Arrangement of the Week segment for this week, and it’s apt timing. Recently in my random arrangement-diving that happens every so often when I’ve had a nice glass of whiskey and some free time, I came afoul a track from Samuel “Shnabubula” Ascher-Weiss that I’d never heard before. I certainly wasn’t looking for his material, but rather searching out any rare gems from my beloved Castlevania series.
Shnabubula’s 2003 arrangement “Mucho Dollar Care a Junk CIA” comes from Akumajou Dracula for the Sharp X68000, much better known in North America as Castlevania Chronicles re-released for the Playstation and one of the more obscure of the series titles. Here, the track in question is one of my favorites of that game in particular; the dungeon theme “Etude for the Killer”, which is an odd track to begin with that I can only possibly describe best as ‘cheerfully creepy’.
The arrangement takes an already odd tune and turns it on it’s head, but in a tasteful way. Piano, acoustic guitar and woodwinds construct a melody that softens the unnerving undertones of the original tune and bring it to a more playful tone while still sticking to the source music. The result is an interesting piece that flows well, and while not particularly dynamic, still exhibits a lot of personality apart from that which was already very unique from “Etude for the Killer”. I can appreciate that Shnab took the time to give the track a bit of attention with his own flair, even if it might not be for everyone.