There are very few fan-made, independently-operated places on the internet these days that can say they’ve survived a decade and are still kicking. Even more so for places that dedicate themselves to the love of video game music and re-imagining favorite tunes from hundreds of games both past and present. As of today, there’s only one place that can boast that it’s survived 10 years as a full-blown competition between gaming music fans to create the most awesome and badass re-compositions of classic (and even obscure) video game tracks in a battle royale to claim superiority on a regular basis.
That place has been known as the “Dwelling of Duels“. Wanna know what it’s all been about these past years?
It seems that if you have the talent and the drive, game developers are able to go it alone these days. Jonathan Blow (Braid), Daisuke Amaya (Cave Story) and now Tom Francis with Gunpoint are all single developers that have made it to the top. The opposite almost seems to be true for game soundtracks. Famously, Jonathan Blow selected several tracks from the website Magnatune, all from different artists, and the final fantasy series has several composers on hand to write music. Tom Francis seems to have gone for the multi composer route by choosing 3 artists to write the soundtrack for his game, Gunpoint.
(Amaya is the exception, as he wrote all his own music for Cave Story.)
After the jump, I’ll let you in on who all wrote the soundtrack for this riveting new indie game, and what I thought of each composer’s work respectively. (more…)
Editor’s Note: We’d like to welcome Michael Hoffmann to our writing team! This young composer has his own blog, Video Game Notes, and has expressed interest in sharing his take on his peers’ work from time to time. He’ll also be doing some concert reporting, including a report on the recent BFIG “Boston Plays Indies” show that VGO, DJ Cutman and others performed indie game music live! We’re excited to have Michael writing on the site! He makes his debut with a review for the Monaco soundtrack. Enjoy!
When you think of music for a stealth/action game, what do you usually imagine? Perhaps some somber and serious orchestral scoring to provide a tense atmosphere. Maybe something more electronic and minimalist that builds in intensity as you delve deeper into enemy territory. Would you ever guess Ragtime music reminiscent of the silent film era? I must admit that when I loaded up the game Monaco: What’s Yours Is Mine, that was the last thing I was expecting to hear. Written by Grammy-nominated composer Austin Wintory, Monaco: What’s Yours is Mine OST provides a fresh new approach to music for the stealth/action genre.
The good folks at Joypad Records continue to attract new and interesting talent for new VGM arrangements. Surely by now y’all have heard the glory of Smooth McGroove, right?
I wanted to take a moment to highlight some new releases that I’ve been very much enjoying. First up (and pictured above) is the debut album from Videri String Quartet, entitled “Portals.” I haven’t heard a good string quartet album in awhile, so I was excited to check this one out. It features a collection of generally well-known tunes, including full medleys for a handful of popular games including The Legend of Zelda, Halo and Final Fantasy VII. It’s available on Loudr for 12.00 USD. Full disclosure: I first found out about this album from a press release written by none other than OSV’s illustrious Jayson Napolitano.
Another great little album worth checking out is the first in a series of albums from a collective calling themselves “Project Destati.” For those of you who somehow forgot, “Destati” is the name of one of the best up-tempo, intense battle themes from Yoko Shimomura’s Kingdom Hearts compositions. Project Destati intends to release a lot of music … for now, they have a 5-track, 18-minute EP out called “Awakening.” It’s available on Loudr for 3.00 USD. I learned about this one via an RPGFan news story.
There are other new albums worth checking out as well: I’ll put in my own recommendation for DJ Cutman and Spamtron’s “MeowMeow & BowWow” — which serves as an EDM-style tribute to the Game Boy classic Link’s Awakening.
Why take to Kickstarter for a third volume when the first two were industry-supported? That’s because LEVEL 3 caters to hardcore game music fans, featuring music from titles like Shadow of the Colossus, Mega Man 2, and Beyond Good & Evil, which don’t have the mainstream recognition of titles like Halo, Mario, and God of War.
With a week left for the campaign, VGL is getting closer to its goal, but it’s not quite there yet. That’s where you can help. They’re looking for a final push to take them over the top, and in addition to the impending album, the backer rewards for this campaign are pretty awesome (how about lunch with the Blizzard Entertainment audio team and a tour of the facilities?). I just pledged, and encourage game music fans out there to do the same so I can get my Shadow of the Colossus on. Oh, and there will be a remix by electronic artist BT as well (I really am excited about this!).
Chime in and let us know what you think of the effort. Will you be supporting this?
The Boston Festival of Indie Games (aka “Boston FIG” or just “BFIG”) is going to have an awesome music concert this year. On September 14th at the venue “The Middle East Downstairs,” a cavalcade of awesome musicians will be performing –live– renditions of great indie game music. Performers include:
The Video Game Orchestra
Darren Korb (composer for Bastion!)
Control Group (a band featuring Darren Korb)
deadbeatblast (on visuals, etc)
I’d personally recommend anyone in and near Boston attend the entirety of BFIG. But if you can’t make the whole convention, be sure not to miss this exciting concert! We’re not sure what all will be covered at the show, but I would be surprised if we didn’t hear music from FEZ, Super Hexagon, Bastion (obviously), and many more…
Well, it’s that time of year again (can you believe this is the sixth year OSV has done this?). To commemorate Square Enix’s presence at San Diego Comic Con, we’ve scheduled a chat with promotions manager Akio Shiraishi to talk about recent happenings and touch on what’s in store for fans in the future. Read the interviews from 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 if you dare!
This time talk about the remaster versions of the Final Fantasy IV, V, and VI soundtracks, what the plans are for vinyl and the SQ series, what’s with the recent use of the Blu-ray format for music, whether we’ll see anymore FFXI music, and I pitch them on an idea for a new NieR CD.
With an interest in chip tune music must come a certain desire to figure out the best reproduction of those chip tune sounds. Having a synthesizer myself, I always thought creating a chip tune piece was as simple as using a square wave coming out of my analog SH-201. Everyone has a different method, but this was my approach. Despite different approaches, there is a tremendous difference in the sounds produced from any sound chip, let alone those in video game consoles and handheld devices.
For instance, the timbre of a C64 square wave sounds way different than an NES square wave. They are both square waves, yet the aesthetics that make up the sound drastically differs for each system. If you were going to create an NES based chip tune, it wouldn’t help to emulate chip sounds from a C64, or in my case, my analog SH-201. How can someone spot the difference? Inverse Phase, Mr. MAGFest, as some call him, often teaches people the differences, so they could be armed with an applicable sound palette before creating their own chip tunes. Today, I’ll go over some of these differences thanks to a lecture by Inverse Phase titled Music from Old Sound Chips.
Richard McDonald, who has recently joined us as a contributing writer for OSV, has informed me of an indie game he is writing the music for … granted it gets funded, crowdsourcing style. Tales n’ Tactics is a strategy game for PC that I think the developers, Arcane Wrench Entertainment, can explain better than I can:
Tales n’ Tactics is an old-school turn-based strategy game in which you control up to four champions, which is either Human, Elf, Dwarf, Orc, Undead or Demon, in a quest for victory. Conquer towns, clear dungeons or just explore the randomly generated maps. Each game can be won by completing certain objectives which are generated randomly for you or that you have chosen yourself in the beginning of a game. You can play either alone or with your friends, on one computer via hot seat-mode or online! All this is presented in cozy, retro graphics with fitting “old-school” music.
Tales n’ Tactics is utilizing Indiegogo as their crowdsourcing platform. To that end, Richard has released 2 preview tracks on his Soundcloud account to help promote the campaign:
The “Human City Theme” preview is piano-heavy and has a lot of great 20th century impressionist style to it (i.e. — it sounds like Masashi Hamauzu, SaGa Frontier II etc).
You can check out the Indiegogo campaign HERE. They’re doing a flex-funding campaign, so the goal does not have to be reached for funds to be released. Support starts with as little as $4, and rewards start with the soundtrack alone for $7, the game alone for $8, the game and soundtrack for $13, and (of course) some crazy rewards for high-dollar contributions. You guys know how these things go. If you’re at all interested, please support, and thank you!
Harmonix Studios, of Rock Band and Dance Central fame, have demoed Fantasia: Music Evolved, a new music game at E3 based on the Fantasia franchise. With an apparent shift away from the Rock Band ‘plastic instruments’ approach, the game follows your body’s movements, more like Dance Central but without actually dancing. From the video interview above, created by the excellent Game Trailers website, you appear to conduct the music with hand gestures and broad body movements, almost like interpretive dance, by using the Xbox One kinect. This is a refreshing change for me as I have no interest in ‘plucking’ away at a fake guitar, and I can’t dance.
During the initial unveiling of the game a few weeks back, I was worried by the announcement that the game would include pop and rock music. As a fan of the original Fantasia film I was initially appalled at this seemingly blatant attempt to pander to the majority, while missing out on an opportunity to innovate and push the genre in new audiences. After watching the video from Game Trailers, I now feel that the studio has successfully managed to please everyone while at the same time draw in new players.
Well, as of now, it’s only a book. The full title, Journey Sheet Music Selections from the Original Video Game Soundtrack, features six arrangements by Laura Intravia (a masterful arranger and performer who worked on four tracks of OCRemix’s Final Fantasy VI: Balance & Ruin), including the beloved theme Apotheosis. The sheet music has been published by Alfred Music (I myself was taught piano on Alfred books, so I’m already partial to them). Head here for details including tracklist and how to buy. The book will cost you about $15.
As for an accompanying CD recording of this sheet music? No concrete details yet, though a recent chat with composer Austin Wintory via Facebook reveals his intention to do a recording and publish a Piano Collection album:
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to place my order for the book and see if I still have the chops to play Laura’s intricate piano solo arrangements…
Seekers of Adoulin is the latest expansion for the long-running MMORPG Final Fantasy XI; the music, as with the four previous expansions, is composed by Naoshi Mizuta. I have to admit, Naoshi Mizuta is relatively unknown to me. Looking though his discography, I realize that I’ve not played any games where he is the sole composer (Street Fighter Alpha, Parasite Eve II, etc) and he hasn’t stood out for me when collaborating with Final Fantasy veterans Nobuo Uematsu and Masashi Hamauzu. So this review will be based entirely on the soundtrack, without any context of how the music worked in the game.