Whether you grew up with a computer in the ’80s, pirated a copy of Photoshop in the 2000s or ran a benchmark on a video card last year, you’ve come into contact with a cracktro in one form or another. Also called a Crack Intro or Loader, these screens were first appended to pirated software in the late 70s and early 80s by the groups that cracked them. They served as digital graffiti, a way for the cracking “crew” to stake their claim, brag about their accomplishments and shout out to friends and rivals.
As such they rapidly evolved into ever more elaborate feats of visual programming until some coders detached their efforts from the shadier side of things. By 1986 the movement became known as the Demoscene and would later inspire benchmarking software to find dazzling ways to tax computer hardware. The legacy of the cracktro would also be carried on beyond the 90s in the form of keygens; tiny programs that generate serial keys for pirated software.
Wrapped up in that thirty year history is the music that accompanied the illicit cracktros, trainers and keygens, some of which outmatched the games they were attached to. While crews have left their calling cards on virtually every platform, this playlist (which can’t be embedded here) by YouTuber Zeusdaz features solely the Amiga. So prolific was the cracking scene back then that even this incomplete collection clocks in at an astounding eight and a half hours. It serves as a great intro to cracktros, offers a time capsule-like glimpse into the scene and it was even captured directly from a real Amiga. No emulation from Zeusdaz! It’s also a convenient playlist to pop on for quick audio/visual party ambiance.
Tracking down the coding composers behind these tunes is an even more daunting challenge and one I’d like to dig into… someday. For now I’ll point curious parties to Wikipedia, Cracktros.org, SceneMusic and Kestra Bitworld to see how deep the cracktro hole goes. I can’t remember any by name but there are definitely some cracktros and keygens I would repeatedly load up just to listen to. What about you? Any memorable crack or trainer tunes? Do you know another good source for even more cracktro themes? Let us know below.
Disclaimer: Original Sound Version does not endorse software piracy for the sake of listening to cracktros, no matter how cool their music might be.
Brave Wave, the independent game music label, has been making more and more headlines over the last year and not just from the VGM scene. From their work in restoring Street Fighter II’s arcade soundtrack to giving veteran composers new outlets for their music, Brave Wave seems to be accelerating in quality, quantity and breadth.
But who and what is Brave Wave? Their website gives only the most basic, PR Approved overview but the full story is now coming to light. Several articles over the last year have highlighted the label, largely surrounding their work on Street Fighter II. FACT Magazine posted an extensive interview with the team and went on to name them one of the 10 labels to watch in 2016. Most recently, Jeremy Parish from USgamer posted an excellent, massive article based on his time talking with Brave Wave founder, Mohammed Taher. It’s the most revealing look at the organization I’ve seen but if that’s too much reading for you then definitely check out Wavelength.
Wavelength is Brave Wave’s own bi-weekly podcast series that just launched on January 14th. The inaugural episode features Mohammed retelling much of the label’s unplanned development alongside Associate Director and Mixing Engineer, Marco Guardia. The episode is wrangled by Brett Elston from VGMpire and after the history lesson the conversation turns to the making of the Street Fighter II album, the influx of game music on vinyl and hints at what’s coming next for both the podcast and Brave Wave.
iam8bit who has previously released some classic video game soundtrack on vinyl including Journey, Battletoads, Banjo-Kazooie, and Perfect Dark is now taking pre-orders for 4 incredible releases.
Read on for details about their releases of Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns, Dustforce, Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection, and FTL: Faster Than Light.
Prolific electronic composer, Shiryu, has had one helluva year. I’ve seen his name and new releases on almost every visit I’ve made to Bandcamp’s video game page over the months. From original works to commemorative albums and themed compilations of his existing tracks (like Age of Shmup, Age of Ninja and Age of Vampire) he’s released more music in 2015 than anyone else I’ve seen.
He’s capped it off with Melodies from Video Games Past, a 12-track commission project that spiraled to 50 songs with over 2 hours of music. Included are all-new arrangements of fan favorites including Turrican, Street Fighter, Agony, Metroid, Sonic, Axelay, F-Zero, Galaxy Force and so many more.
“If you are familiar with my precious “Shiryu’s Arcade” ten LP project, you will recognize most of these tracks, but please note they were all made from scratch for this special release. Yep, these fifty tracks are all baked fresh! Even if this was a commission LP for someone, I want to publicly state that I refused payment. I’m not making anything out of this except for the coins people give me over [on] Bandcamp.
I just want everyone who listens to it get some nostalgic goose bump and get reminded some awesome memories of simpler times. Hope you enjoy listening as much as I enjoyed making it. Happy holidays and… see in 2016?”
To further extend the holiday cheer, Shiryu’s offering up a 50% discount on all of his sprawling Bandcamp discography. Just use the promo code “shiryu_is_xmas_king” on checkout. The code is good from now through January 4th, 2016.
C418, the German composer best known for creating the soundscapes of Minecraft, has stealth/surprise launched his first new album in nearly two years, titled 148. Included in the 19 tracks are original vocal works, Minecraft remixes that had only been heard at live shows and collaborations with some darlings of the indie game scene. In the works since 2011, C418 explains the surprise release as an effort to move ahead and to re-confirm that, yes, he’s still making music.
“It just has been plaguing me for too long. I think that you can’t be happy with anything if you’ve stared at it too close for too long. Which is why I decided to stealth release it without any announcement. I’ve had incredibly unproductive years recently, and a lot of it had to do with being burnt out and partly being somewhat depressed. This album didn’t really help my psyche either. By releasing this, right now, I hope I can get to a clean slate and start beginning work on new stuff. And, of course, maybe it stops making everyone worried that I stopped composing altogether.”
He goes on to describe the album as “highly energetic and full of house and Drum & Bass tunes”. Sampling it this morning I can say it’s definitely more upbeat than Minecraft and the collaborations between Disasterpeace, Baiyon, Big Giant Circles and Laura Shigihara add variety to the overall sound. 148 is available now from Bandcamp, iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, or Google Play.
If you’re still on the fence about GameChop’s latest release — bLiNd’s Chozo Legacy tribute to Super Metroid — and our own review hasn’t swayed you, maybe some free tracks will. GameChop has just released Chozo Legacy: Free Missions on Bandcamp offering four tracks from the full album for whatever price you’d like to pay, including $0.00. The four songs are embedded below and when you’re ready for more you can pick up the full album for $10 on Loudr.
I have listened to the Shadowrun :Hong Kong at least 5 times since I received a digital copy to review. The soundtrack spans 28 tracks and is spread across 2 CDs in its physical release.
The music itself is very melodic, uses a variety of instruments combined with unique sounds, and overall presents a very engaging listening experience. Read on to see my thoughts about what I loved so much about this soundtrack and hear some must listen tracks.
A new crowdfunding campaign has been debuted by the composer of of Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris, Star Wars: The Old Republic and others. Wilbert Roget has taken to Kickstarter to help fund his original album, Beyond Libra, which is inspired by anime composers and features several cultural influences.
As a composer for games, I’ve always been influenced by classic Japanese anime and video game scores, with musicians like Yoko Kanno and Jo Hisaishi being some of my biggest inspirations. I’ve always wanted to write music for animation, and so 8 years ago, I embarked on an ambitious album project: I’d write an entire soundtrack for a show that existed only in my imagination, with commissioned artwork to accompany the music and an interplanetary adventure story to bind it all together.
Beyond Libra is a very diverse soundtrack, with songs ranging from j-pop to orchestral, dulcet small ensemble works, and uplifting afrobeat. There is no single “sound” for the album as a whole, but instead, a great variety of genres support the characters’ adventure across several planets and civilizations. – Wil Roget
The album will feature several additional musicians, including Jillian Aversa (Halo, Soul Calibur 5, VideoGamesLive), Offiong Bassey (featured on NPR Radio and The Boston Globe), Raj Ramayya (Cowboy Bebop, Wolf’s Rain) and others. It will also include the Yale Women’s Slavic Chorus and several other cultural ensembles. The current goal is $1,500 for the 45-minute album and some stretch goals to help improve mixing and increase tracks and more.
Beyond Libra – Kickstarter
Back when I was writing that review of the Super Chibi Knight soundtrack I happened upon a similarly titled, but totally unrelated track on Bandcamp called “Super Chibi Robo”. With the release of his latest adventure in Chibi-Robo: Zip Lash for the 3DS I figured it was finally time to post about it. Because how crazy is it that a non-nerdcore, comedy duo from Boston would latch onto an overlooked GameCube game and make a song about it five years after its release?
It isn’t just the context that surprised me, the song is really quite good. It outlines many of the game’s bizarre characters and their even more bizarre goals in detail that only a true Chibi fan could compose. Musically, it’s quite different with a dark synth and guitar duo backed up by crisp percussion programming and a tinny vocal filter. To me it feels like an homage to the sounds of the 80’s but regardless of influence or inspiration it sounds great.
Give it a listen and let us know what you think about the song or Chibi-Robo in general in the comments.
Let it never be lamented that the beloved composers of our childhood fade into obscurity with the modern age of gaming. Having not too long ago been slated to work on Unraveled: Tale of the Shipbreakers Daughter, Secret of Mana composer Hiroki Kikuta is now attached to two other promising indie games currently in fund-raising mode.
The first is PIXEL NOIR, where Kikuta will be working alongside the game’s audio composer Kunal Majmudar to help shape the sound of the gritty RPG.”
Kikuta-san has been an inspiration to me throughout my life. From the first few notes of ‘Fear of the Heavens’ and watching the birds fly past the Mana Tree, I knew I was playing something truly special with Secret of Mana. I’m left completely breathless at this opportunity to work with one of my heroes.” – Kunal Majmudar
“When I was first approached by the team at SWDTech Games, I was deeply impressed by the unique world and vision that they shared in creating PIXEL NOIR. My mind immediately began racing as to how PIXEL NOIR might sound, and I’m looking forward to collaborating with their talented team!” –Hiroki Kikuta
PIXEL NOIR has currently been funded on their Kickstarter, but is seeking stretch funding in order to hit additional goals for added content.
Kikuta’s other project that is still seeking base funding is Indivisible by Lab Zero (Skullgirls). Also an RPG of the fantasy genre in the vein of Valkyrie Profile with Asian mythos tied in, Indivisible will see Kikuta helm its entire soundtrack.
Indivisible is currently seeking the hefty sum of $1.5M base funding with over a month to go. You can check out the entire game’s information on their IndieGogo page.
Source: SDWtechgames; IndieGogo
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.
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?