Shift by WASD is a metal album that is a solid tribute to early PC era video games. WASD is an obvious reference to keyboard shortcuts. For me listening to the album took me back to a time that I had long forgotten about, the age of 3 and 1/2 inch floppy bootdisks, and 4X to 8X CD-Rom drives. The band’s mantra is “Console games are dead. Long live the personal computer.” If you grew up with early PC games, this is an album you will appreciate.
So come take the trip down PC game memory lane with my review of the album.
The Blake Robinson Synthetic Orchestra has just released the soundtrack to Portal Knights. Portal Knights is now available on Steam Early Access and is an action-packed crafting adventure across dozens of sandbox islands connected by ancient portals.
I have been a huge fan of the Blake Robinson’s work ever since the release of the Super Metroid Symphony and my personal favorite, The Chrono Trigger Symphony. His work on Portal Knights is nothing short of excellent and features an exceptional orchestral sound. You can sample the soundtrack above and watch the trailer to the game below.
Have you played Portal Knights? What do you think about the music?
One of the most popular posts on OSV over the past several weeks has been the article detailing the Swedish inspirations within the soundtrack to the critically acclaimed game Unravel. I have been following chatter about the soundtrack on twitter and several users have tweeted to the game maker to ask if they can buy the soundtrack, or if it is going to be coming out soon.
Twitter user iNanas asked and got a response which I’ve embedded below.
@AnanasUA We currently don’t have any plans, but we definitely hear you.
— Unravel (@unravel_game) February 17, 2016
The music was composed by Henrik Oja and Frida Johansson, and is so far one of my favorite video game soundtracks that have been released this year. If you think that the soundtrack should get an official release I would take after iNanas and tweet to Unravel‘s official twitter account to let them know!
Do you think the soundtrack to Unravel should get an official release?
Jon Everist recently tweeted that his soundtrack to Shadowrun: Dragonfall Director’s Cut will be coming to Bandcamp on March 1, 2016. You can preview the tracks that will be featured on the album below.
The game was released prior to Shadowrun: Hong Kong, but from what I’ve listened to the music is of the same calibre. You can read my review of Shadowrun:Hong Kong here, I also chose Jon Everist composer of the year for 2015.
I’m hoping that there will be physical release of album on CD. Stay tuned to OSV for further news on the album’s release. Have you played Shadowrun: Dragonfall Director’s Cut? What did you think of the music?
The Flame in the Flood is one of those indie games that feels like it’s been in perpetual development. I’ve had my eye on it since it appeared in the Fall of 2014 but I didn’t want to jump into another Early Access game and get burnt out by the time it launches. I’ve had it filed under “looks great, let’s wait” in my head but after listening to the powerful and utterly unique soundtrack this week I’m glad the full release is just weeks away.
The game is billed as a rogue-lite and feels like a distillation of the survival drama of Don’t Starve racing down a raging, flooded post-societal riverway. It’s represented in an isometric, overhead view with painterly art and moody lighting. Even from the name alone you can get a sense of poetry and of the American South which rolls right through the visuals and into this fantastic soundtrack.
This original, full length album was created by Chuck Ragan and features collaborations with The Camaraderie, The Fearless Kin and other special guests. Ragan has been plying his powerful, gravelly tone and poetic songwriting skills for decades across several musical genres. Through the mid-2000s he was singing and playing with the punk rock and post-hardcore band Hot Water Music. His solo albums lean towards acoustic and rock folk music. In 2005 he helped launch the acoustic collaborative event, The Revival Tour, featuring punk rock, bluegrass, and alt-country performers.
“I also wanted to invite and include friends to be a part of it, playing, writing or singing anything they wanted to add.”, recounts Regan about having recruited several of those fellow performers for The Flame in the Flood. “Cory Brannan, Jon Snodgrass, Adam Faucett and of course The Camaraderie are some of the very important collaborations on this recording that made the soundtrack what it is.”
The album has a cohesive story of its own that is equal parts accompaniment and counterpart to that of the game’s. “The Flame in the Flood is a collection of songs of survival,” Ragan explains.“Written from the perspective of a drifter, nomad and explorer, The Flame in the Flood will take you on a journey down that river in search of a safe haven. I feel so blessed to not only be a part of such a strong and active music community but to be able to share the stage, write with and learn from the people that I work with is such a healthy and revitalizing way to work.”
The album is available now on iTunes ($8.99) and from Amazon ($8.99 mp3, $9.98 CD). Developer, The Molasses Flood, just revealed at the NY Game Awards that The Flame in the Flood will be out of Early Access and onto full release for Xbox One, PC and Mac on February 24th.
You might remember hearing about 8Bit Music Power last November. The collaborative chiptune album has the distinction of being released exclusively for the Famicom console. Though not an official Nintendo product, Japanese accessory manufacturer, Columbus Circle, has matched the real deal with a gorgeous full color box and reproduction cartridge.
The 12-track album contains original songs by several Japanese game and chiptune composers under the direction of producer and illustrator, Riki. Contributors include Omodaka (Ape Escape), Masahiro Kajihara (Triggerheart Excelica), Takeaki Kunimoto (Star Soldier), Yuriko Keino (Dig Dug), Saitone, Hiroaki Sano (Triangle Heart), Nobuyuki Shioda (Summer Carnival ’92), Professor Sakamoto, Tappy (Tokimeki Memorial), Hally (Mighty Gunvolt) and Keishi Yonao (Asuka 120%). The cart’s pixelart graphics were created with the help of Hiroshi Ono, artist on some of gaming’s classic arcade titles like Pac Man, Galaga, Dig Dug and Mappy.
We’ve known the details for a while but the big news of the day is that 8Bit Music Power… is out. The first thousand cartridges produced are on sale now through Amazon Japan and Play-Asia will have them ready to ship worldwide on January 31st. Click inside to check out the full tracklist, a preview of the album and more.
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?
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.