On April 27, 2016 composer Gareth Coker tweeted that he was going to soon announce something related to Ori and The Blind Forest’s music, I hoped it would be a physical soundtrack release and iam8bit Records posted details of the release on their website. You can read my full review of the soundtrack here if you missed it, and also check out details of the digital release of the soundtrack to Ori and The Blind Forest: The Definitive Edition.
The soundtrack to Ori and the Blind Forest swept the awards circuit this past year, with good reason. This game has it all: A charming story of friendship, breathtaking visuals that feel like living painting, and a score as lovely as it is emotionally moving. So it’s no surprise that composer Gareth Coker’s carefully crafted masterpiece is a sensory treat when emanating from a turntable – soothing, fantastical and, at times, strikingly sentimental.
Coupled with artist Aya Kakeda’s hand-painted jacket art, not only is the cuteness, charm and allure of Ori and the Blind Forest preserved, its mythology expands, tantalizing in its detailed and soulful brushwork. As with all new iam8bit vinyl releases, the audio is mastered specifically for optimal vinyl audio quality. ***Please note that you may experience additional surface noise with glow-in-the-dark vinyl. For the best audio quality, select the blue/purple edition.
The album is available for pre-orders at iam8bit’s website for $35.00 and will start shipping in Q3 2016. Will you be adding this to your vinyl LP collection?
All of the pieces that we’ve featured on Arrangement of the Week have been based on music from games on either consoles, handheld, or personal computers. However, we’ve yet to have any covers of music from mobile games. That changes today with an arrangement of Jimmy “Big Giant Circles” Hinson’s music from the mobile puzzle game Threes.
The artist for this arrangement is timaeus222 who has created an electronic remix of the Threes main theme, “Threes Is the Bees Knees,” titled “Threes ‘Reactive’.”
The remix keeps the light and upbeat tone of the original track and transforms it into a short but sweet electronic funk dance track. There’s plenty of great FM synth sounds, but there’s a nice dose of acoustic sounding guitar instruments to balance things out. The mix never sounds dense or overwhelming and it maintains a light feel even when the heavier synth elements come in.
The tone of the track shifts often thanks to the wide variety of synth instruments that take the spotlight throughout the piece’s duration. There’s plenty of synth lead instruments that get the melody, so you never find yourself getting board of hearing any particular instrument in the remix. All in all, it’s a great tribute to a soundtrack that doesn’t get enough of the attention that it deserves.
Have any favorite remixes, arrangements, or covers? Feel free to tell us about them in the comment section. You can check out “Threes ‘Reactive’” at OC ReMix.
If there’s one thing Frank Klepacki knows how to compose for, it’s real-time strategy games. He’s touched some of the biggest, best and most recent entries in the genre, the latest of which is 8-Bit Armies from former Westwood Studios members at Petroglyph Games. It’s the classic gameplay of Command & Conquer painted in vibrant voxel style over which Klepacki plies his familiar hard rock and electronic stylings to some new sounds.
Immediately obvious are the tracks that feature flourishes of chiptune but there’s a general darker and harder electronic vibe over C&C’s military rock sound throughout. Breakbeats, those chippy synth leads and just a hint of dubstep distortion play over his familiar brooding and driving bass. It adds just enough newness to the familiar feel of a classic to hit you right in the nostalgic pit of your heart.
The game is out now and available from all your favorite digital storefronts (Steam, GOG and Humble Bundle) for 10% off the asking price of $14.99. The soundtrack is also on sale at a discount over at Steam or bundled with 8-Bit Armies directly from Petroglyph Games. The 9-track album runs with just over 30 minutes of music and is priced at $3.99 including the following songs:
The Chinese-themed MMORPG REVELATION, known as “TianYu,” in it’s native China will not only be releasing soon in North America and Europe, but will soon see its soundtrack released both digitally and on CD. Composed with a distinctive Asian-flare by Neal Acree (World of Warcraft, Overwatch), the score features a cinematic tone and has earned the Global Music Award (Game Music and Original Score), the Scorecast Genius Choice Vote Award, and earned nominations for a Game Audio Network Guild Award as “Best Instrumental” by the International Film Music Critics Awards for “Best Score: Video Game.”
“The score for REVELATION called for a rich, cinematic sound but the game’s story and artwork called for a traditional Chinese palette. Orchestra blended with traditional Chinese and Japanese instruments was the natural approach and can make for some beautiful and evocative colors. Each Chinese instrument has its counterpart in the Western orchestra but brings a unique character to the overall sound. ” – Neal Acree
“Through the Gates” – REVELATION OST (Neal Acree)
Varèse Sarabande will release the REVELATION Soundtrack digitally on April 29 and on CD May 27, 2016. You can purchase both on the company’s website. You can also keep an eye out on their Twitter for additional announcements.
In September of 2010, game music arrangement community Overclocked Remix released the first installment of what was planned to be a five-part album inspired by Final Fantasy V, titled “The Fabled Warriors“. “Volume I: WIND” was released by director Shariq “DarkeSword” Ansari with nine tracks, touching upon the themes of several of the game characters. Now, five and a half years later, “Volume II: WATER” has been released.
Again featuring an additional nine tracks, the second installment features music from Darkesword himself, as well as fellow OCR arrangement artists such as Brandon Strader, Sixto Sounds and more. Ansari goes on to promise that the timeframe between this volume and the next won’t take nearly so long as the last one.
“Now that WATER is finally out, we’re going to move on to putting together Volume III: FIRE. I’ve got big plans, and while it would be irresponsible of me to promise a release date, I will say that after everything I’ve learned about running all these albums over the years, things are going to move along at a better pace. Keep an eye out, and in the meantime, enjoy The Fabled Warriors: Volume II: WATER.” – Darkesword
You can download Volume II: WATER as well as Volume I: WIND on the album’s official Overclocked Remix website.
One of my favorite game soundtracks from the Super Nintendo era is Super Metroid. While it may not have the catchy melodies of some of its peers of that day, it builds a great atmosphere for the game that’s hard to forget. For this week’s Arrangement of the Week, I found a rock cover of Super Metroid’s music that strays far from the tone of the original material.
“Dancing in the Jungle” is a rock interpretation of the “Brinstar Plant Overgrowth” track by artist Cyril the Wolf, aka Connor Pelkey. I think you’ll find he’s done something quite interesting with the Super Metroid material.
While creating a rock version of this particular track is nothing new, the lighter tone for this arrangement is something that caught me by surprise. Cyril the Wolf has created a 70s style rock cover of the music, which results in a much brighter and upbeat version of the music. Usually cover artists create something that matches the dark atmosphere of the game, but this arrangement takes the road less travelled and it stands out as a result.
The piece has an almost disco genre feel, with it’s steady drum beats and lively bass line. I particularly like the inclusion of the organ throughout the track. There’s enough variation in the guitar parts as well to keep the listener’s interest and the the arrangement is just the right length to be enjoyable without overstaying its welcome. It’s another excellent cover of one of my favorite game soundtracks.
Have any favorite Super Metroid covers, remixes, or arrangements? Feel free to share them with us in the comment section. You can check out “Dancing in the Jungle” at OC ReMix.
OSV originally brought news of Wilbert Roget II’s kickstarter campaign to fund the mastering and release of his anime inspired Beyond Libra back in November of last year. The Kickstarter campaign was a success slightly doubling its modest goal of $1500. So what is Beyond Libra? Simply described by the composer Beyond Libra is a massive collaboration album inspired by Japanese anime composers such as Yoko Kanno and Joe Hisaishi. Pop, orchestral, and world influence. The album which was 8 years in the making featuring a stunning amount of talent and songs in over 5 different languages.
So come hear my thoughts on Beyond Libra in my full review of the physical album 13 track album which was released on March 4, 2016.
It’s been a banner month for soundtracks to games that never existed. First we had Saori Kobayashi’s original album, Terra Magica, that envisions a new Panzer Dragoon and just last weekend Mitch Murder brought us MECH HUNTER OST which he describes simply as “another fictional Sega game soundtrack.”
The Swedish composer, who provided the soundtrack for the deeply 80’s short film Kung Fury, has imagined us an anime inspired, cyberpunk Sega CD game that never happened. From the album art and track titles alone it’s easy to picture something similar to Snatcher or Bubblegum Crisis. Sexy ladies in cyber gear fighting blue-gray robot monsters and all that.
The 6-track album is painfully short, giving you just enough of an 80’s electro/Sega/funk hit to leave you wanting more. From “Fighters” that thumps along in the bassy range of the Genesis to “Runners” with its delightful 80’s synth melody and echoing electric bass refrain. Short as it may be we’re even treated to a plucky “Bonus Stage” tune and a soulful, minimal finale that surely accompanies a graphic of our battle-worn cybergirls standing haggard and triumphant over an evil computer.
~ Thanks for your playing
I’m surprised to find myself a little hurt over this mini album. It’s so perfectly evocative of the era and the games that I love, it feels like I suddenly discovered a game from my childhood that I can never play. Don’t let that surprise reaction put you off of MECH HUNTER OST, though, because it’s a great listen and it’s also free (or pay-what-you-want) over on Bandcamp.
Charlotte Seeker is an upcoming game from Bearcowboy that has narrowly dodged some some of its own setbacks just like the bullet-weaving heroine. After an unsuccessful Kickstarter in 2014 and a slipped release in 2015, the tiny team has forged ahead through Steam Greenlight and are now aiming to launch in Q2 of this year.
Described as a 16 bit-inspired, lo-fi melange of twin stick shooters and roguelikes, Charlotte Seeker wears its influences on its sleeve. Bearcowboy sites The Binding of Isaac, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and Resogun as inspiration behind its brand of mesmerizing “bullet heck” gameplay and vibrant pixelart visuals. Accompanying that is Spencer Riedel’s soundtrack that’s full of boppin’ chiptune interwoven with modern synths all chopped up with break beats, acoustic drums and thick bass. Just how the action puts its own spin on familiar gameplay, the music also mixes old and new. The combination evokes some very specific old console sounds — at least for me — while peppering everything with fresh melodies and unexpected rhythms.
The first track, “Menu Theme”, was designed to ease players into both the listening and playing experience. This is as calm as the album gets and it opens with pulsing bass and a deconstruction of the game’s main theme that wafts in and out as the layers build. Things drop out around 2:00 into a muffled drum beat that finally ushers us into the proper tune with dueling voices of tinny and grungy synths. It’s a perfect introductory track and things only get more interesting from there.
The next track, “Pistons”, sings with the same high synth voice but gets a whole new feel to evoke the engine room that it accompanies. Riedel adds a hint of Latin influence that can be heard in the opening percussion and the crisp syncopated drum and cymbal throughout. Just about halfway through a wonderful guitar solo leaps into the mix and is matched by the main synth. The pair lead us right into a breakdown of chippy drums before a new guitar solo wraps around for one final, glorious refrain. The song gets a great remix later in the album on the track “Turbines” where it accompanies a boss battle with double speed, grungier guitars and layers of extra harmonies.
Between “Pistons” and “Turbines” is the funky track “Cogs” which Riedel says is a “love letter to two early game music memories” from Spyro the Dragon and the Sega Genesis. Sure enough, the plodding little melody at the beginning reminds me of Spyro’s earliest adventures but quickly picks up speed with fast synth melodies. These are punctuated through the rest of the song by both shrill and crunchy sounds that thoroughly remind me of the Genesis’ unique sound.
The track “Thorns” maintains the album’s signature sounds with high synths and crunchy drums but takes a stylistic turn towards surf rock. The simple bass and lead synths at the beginning initially remind me of the Game Boy Advance hardware but once the choppy drum samples and guitar jump in it feels wonderfully unique. Another mid-track break simmers back down to the main synth before exploding with even choppier breakbeat drums and a cacophonous swell of melodies.
“Nettles” is spot on boss battle music from the get-go with its descending run and jumpy synth melody. It’s punctuated by droning backing sounds that also remind me of the Game Boy Advance and more punchy, syncopated drumming. Midway through is one of those great musical flourishes that always inspires me to make brash, boneheaded attacks when I’m playing a game. In this case it’s another out-of-nowhere descending run of main and bass synths that pops back into full swing just before the loop point.
The layers of synths in “Squids” all have that wonderful tremolo waver that calls to mind Amiga cracktros I’ve posted about before. It’s a unique sound for what is one of the game’s desert levels and it gets stronger after the intro when the pounding drums thump in. At the midpoint a pair of scratchy, abrasive synths pipe up adding to the harsh and chaotic sound of the track.
“Wind” is another song set in the game’s desert environment that opens with plucky synths and remind me of the NES. Before you have time to place the sound though, that crunchy guitar and percussion, with a nonstop cowbell, crash onto the scene, repeating the synth line. The contrast of chiptune and acoustic instruments is particularly strong here as the two voices take turns in the lead while those persistent drums move everything along at a great speed.
Setting the stage for one of the game’s wintery levels, “Snow” opens with fast drum and bass percussion and a low end synth that is quickly joined by a sawing guitar. The slippery sensation of ice and cold comes from the dual pair of frantic and twinkly synth leads. The pair echo trembling arpeggios back and forth and right on through the thumping bass break at the midpoint and back around for a final loop.
“Frostbite” is the tune used in the game’s trailer and, fittingly enough, it was the first thing I heard when I started this review. While this edited version now accompanies a boss battle and appears almost at the end of the album I’ve come to think of it as the game’s theme. It incorporates all the sounds we’ve heard elsewhere and has a bombastic sound that’s perfect for a theme song. The opening bass synth is backed up by chippy percussion that reminds me a bit of Bionic Commando on the NES. Seconds later the familiar high synth voice and acoustic drums burst in with a brash staccato theme that swells with the scratchy background synths of a Genesis game. The whole thing crescendos into a solo by that familiar high synth, echoed back by yet higher voices before flowing into a quick loop.
The final track I want to highlight is “Credits”. Calling back to the tune established on the very first track, and the game’s main menu screen, it’s a great wraparound with enough variety to sound familiar but new. The increases in speed and pitch give the song that triumphant “you beat the game” vibe and the bass keeps your head bopping along.
The rest of the album is honestly just as good as the tracks I picked to explore. In fact, it was hard not to write up every single song because they all have something unique worth hearing. The full album even throws in an extra eight tracks of demo tunes, alternate takes and unused material that are fun to explore after hearing the main playlist a few times. Accompanying the game or on its own, Charlotte Seeker – Games on Cassette is a wonderful, re-listenable aural spectacle. If you’re love of chiptune is waning or if you’re just looking for something fresh and exhilarating I definitely suggest taking a listen.
Today I learned: Japanese composer and multimedia artist, Baiyon, wasn’t already an employee of Q-Games. After years of friendships and collaborations with the Kyoto based game studio Baiyon has officially joined the full time staff as a Creative Producer. He initially worked with Q-Games as art and sound director on the studio’s trippy plant-former, PixelJunk Eden, in 2008. He then returned for PixelJunk 4am in 2012, helping the studio create a player-controlled music synthesizer and visualizer. In between he contributed music to LittleBigPlanet 2 and more recently provided music and art for indie titles Panoramical and Fotonica.
“For nearly 15 years I’ve acted as a freelance artist, but now I’m taking on the challenge of being a Creative Producer at Q-Games,” Baiyon says of the new position. “I’ve had the privilege of collaboration with many other artists and studios from around the world and accumulating the experience and knowledge that comes with that, but was starting to feel that fully utilizing those as just one person had become difficult. I felt like I needed a place that I could call home in order to do things right.”
No projects were announced with the news but as Q-Games’ latest title, The Tomorrow Children, nears completion Baiyon will most likely be fully involved in whatever comes next. Today I also learned that we’ve got loads of Baiyon coverage right here at OSV! Patrick dedicated a whole week to him back in 2012 so if you’re interested in what might come next from Q-Games, have a look at some of our finefeaturedposts.
What would you like to see Baiyon and Q-Games do next? The studio has been all over the place from top-down racers to side-on shooters, tower defense and soup capitalism simulators. How about a MOBA?
Austin Wintory just opened pre-orders for his soundtrack to The Banner Saga 2, the sequel to his previously scored Banner Saga which OSV’s Patrick Gann reviewed in detail here. The new soundtrack will span 25 tracks and takes the music of the series to new places as the composer details below:
THE BANNER SAGA is one of my favorite things to have ever been part of, but despite that approaching the sequel was a huge challenge. It was the first sequel I’ve ever scored, and so reconciling old ideas with new ones proved tricky. As ever though, in the end, it was a joy and privilege to work on. The wonderful Stoic Studio prove to be the perfect collaborators yet again; they simultaneously push me and yet remain quite hands-off.
The orchestra itself came in the form of the Colorado Symphony, my hometown orchestra, recorded in their native Boettcher Concert Hall in downtown Denver. Also, adding to the splendid vocal work of Malukah and Peter Hollens, comes a phenomenal Icelandic band called Árstíðir. These four musicians are world class. I discovered them on YouTube and became an instant fan. I bought all their albums and then proceeded to stalk them until they agreed to sing on the score. The various icelandic war chants and anthems, and of course the final song “Our Steps, To the Night” are simply unfathomable without them. Of course, capping it all off I am once more honored to have Taylor Davis grounding the winds and brass with her lone violin.
You can preview four of the album’s tracks above and you will get them immediately if you pre-order the album which you can do for just $6.00 on bandcamp. The Banner Saga @ is also available for purchase on Steam in a bundle that includes the soundtrack.
Were you a fan of the music in the original Banner Saga? What do you think of these first four tracks of the new score?
Many of the acoustic arrangements that get coverage on Arrangement of the Week fall into the classical/orchestral genre of music. However, I do come across acoustic jazz covers that, while not as common, bring a welcome breath of fresh air to the usual collection of acoustic game music arrangements out there.
For this week, we have another piece from artist Nostalvania titled “Seven Pipes to Heaven,” a reference to a Miles Davis jazz standard “Seven Steps to Heaven.” The track is a jazz trio arrangement of two pieces, “Birabuto Kingdom” and “Muda Kingdom,” from Super Mario Land by composer Hirokazu Tanaka.
Nostalvania’s arrangement starts and ends with material from the game’s first level Birabuto Kingdom, while keeping the Muda Kingdom material in the middle. Despite altering the meter to 7/8, the melodic material is still quite recognizable. Improvisation sections also act as transitions between the two themes, providing some original material along with the Super Mario Land tunes. The Muda Kingdom music was actually a little harder for me to spot initially because it blends so well with the original improv material.
I like how the arrangement manages to capture the spirit of earlier Miles Davis jazz ensembles, even if the ensemble instruments are different. The material from Super Mario Land fits the genre well and the memorable melodies shine through as a result. The meter change is also a nice touch, creating an uplifting but slightly off-kilter sway to the music. Overall, it’s another wonderful jazz adaptation by Nostalvania of some great game music.
Have any favorite jazz covers of video game tunes. Let us know in the comments. You can check out Nostalvania’s “Seven Pipes to Heaven” on OC ReMix.