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Monumental and “Mana”-esque: Offspring Fling Soundtrack (Review)

May 15, 2012 | | 1 Comment Share thison Facebook Monumental and “Mana”-esque: Offspring Fling Soundtrack (Review)on Twitter

Kyle Pulver’s latest creation, Offspring Fling, is an insanely cute (and fun!) puzzle-platformer built using FlashPunk.

In the past, Kyle has worked with composer Alec Holowka (who is himself an indie game developer as well). Holowka returns to help with Offspring Fling, and the results are… well, they’re downright magical.

After the jump you’ll learn why you should pick up this album, why I think Holowka has the power to channel Yoko Shimomura, and the inevitable bandcamp embed!

The soundtrack opens with the aptly titled “Mother’s Day.” This lively, bouncy title screen music sets the tone for the game, and the soundtrack, with a lovely melody and a diverse array of synth instruments. There are those beautiful bowed strings, the orchestra bells, the “oom-pah” brass, the generic “wind ensemble” voicing, and so much more. With this opening track, you’ll begin to catch that Shimomura vibe. Think “Mushroom Forest” from Super Mario RPG… I think you’ll see where I’m coming from.

But from here, the Shimomura-ness of it all is well kept within the confines of Legend of Mana. I don’t think the parallels are intentional: in many ways, it’s just the choice in instrument voicing, and probably similar sound banks used in the synths for the strings and woodwinds. But it’s also the driving rhythm and interesting chord structures and melodic patterns. Listen to “Adventure Time,” or “This is the Day,” and tell me you don’t detect hints of “Cave Painting” or “Memory of Running” from Shimomura’s seminal work in the Seiken Densetsu series. In fact, I just compared them back-to-back, and while they are definitely different songs, the similarities are uncanny.

My favorite track on the album is right in the middle. Track 7, “Snow Problem,” manages to harness the entire Seiken Densetsu spirit. The opening sounds like some of Hiroki Kikuta’s best work from Secret of Mana, then the rest of the song carries on the Shimomura Legend of Mana vibe. It’s an absolutely brilliant bit of music; it is every bit as good as the legendary works I’d cited before.

I’m sure there were nights that Holowka was just tearing his hair out, frustrated that he couldn’t get this music the way he wanted it. All creatives have those dark nights of the soul. But it’s hard to believe that such frustration could then result in such a perfectly condensed package of levity and luminescence. This is “feel-good” music, but not in a sugary way. It won’t let you down. It doesn’t have a bad after-taste or side effects. And the music flows together so well, with no silence between the tracks. You’re getting 35 minutes of unadulterated goodness. At $5, it’s priced to sell. It’s a bargain. And it’s so wholly different from Holowka’s work in Aquaria, I’m somewhat surprised we’re talking about the same guy.

One final, meandering point. Jack Wall, are you reading this? Because VGL, or some other organization, or *someone,* needs to start an indie VGM live concert series. And it absolutely must have an ensemble performing live versions of Offspring Fling music. This puzzle platformer is *lucky* to have such brilliant music, and gamers would be blessed to be able to hear something like this live. I’ve dropped the idea to people before, but after listening to this soundtrack, I’m adamant. We need live classical music for indie game music. It needs to happen.

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