For this week’s Arrangement of the Week, I’m going to take a trip down memory lane. Most of you probably remember your first game experience, or at least the experience that left a strong impression. For me the first Sonic the Hedgehog on the Sega Genesis was that game. The original soundtrack by Masato Nakamura always gives me a good nostalgia hit, so I decided to select an arrangement of its soundtrack for this week’s post.
Today’s selection comes from artist Rexy and is titled “Flicky’s Night Out.” The piece is an arrangement of “Star Light Zone” from the original Sonic the Hedgehog game, with some instances of “Green Hill Zone” thrown into the mix. Flicky, if you didn’t know, is a reference to a bird protagonist in Sega’s 1984 arcade game, titled Flicky. The blue bird makes appearances in many of the Sonic the Hedgehog games.
The piece starts off with a simple set of bell synths and light percussion, but quickly ramps up into an energetic dance arrangement. The rhythmic guitar strums, drums, and catchy bass line provide a great grove, but what really sells this mix is the flute lead synth that soars above the rest of the instruments. The entire arrangement evokes a wonderfully upbeat, celebratory mood. It’s definitely a good reflection of the mood I’m in when I finally get to the Star Light Zone.
The flute lead takes a break for some violin solos and a few references to the “Green Hill Zone” at around 1’20” before returning to the original “Star Light Zone” material at 2’14.” The flute lead also makes one last appearance before the final wind down of the piece. Overall, a fun, energetic, and uplifting arrangement of Masato Nakamura’s original music.
Have you listened to any interesting game music remixes, arrangements, or covers recently? Let us know in the comments below. You can listen to and download “Flick’s Night Out” on OC ReMix.
In anticipation for the August 4th release of Rare Replay — the Xbox One compilation of 30 (debatable) Rare classics — Microsoft has dropped a pair of surprising goodies on the San Diego Comic-Con crowd. Available in a limited run of only 300 units is a vinyl print of David Wise’s original Battletoads soundtrack featuring gorgeous sleeve and gatefold art by Nick Gazin.
Also available exclusively at the show is an 18×24” poster print from iam8bit featuring an amalgam of all 30 Rare Replay titles. These are also in very limited supply and come hand-signed and numbered. The vinyl album costs $25 and the prints are $50 on the show floor, but don’t feel too bad if you miss out on them. It sounds like reprints of both (with different art and no signatures) may be available later. Interested in other video game soundtracks on vinyl? Check out Brenna’s post where she covers the trend and some recent releases.
Remember Chime? It was a nice music puzzle game originally released on Xbox Live Arcade in 2010. It featured the same sweeping time bar and glowing visuals as Lumines but focused more on Tetris-style pieces rather than colored squares. It was neat but I always felt at odds with the game. While I wanted to chill with the music and add layers to it as I played, that relentless bar and the unavoidable junk pieces made me rush, stress and frequently fail.
I’m happy to say that’s one of the first concerns addressed in the Kickstarter video for Chime Sharp. Headed up by Ste Curran, one of the creators of Chime, the goals for the sequel are simple; “a prettier version of the game that everyone loves, distilled, with extra game modes and all new music.” The pretty graphics are already largely in place but adding new modes and music is why they’ve turned to Kickstarter.
Music licensing is hard, especially when your game needs to rip up the songs and let the player piece them together. There’s already new music in place but with backer support the team hopes to add the likes of Daft Punk, Magic Sword, George & Jonathan, and Chipzel to build their “dream soundtrack”. Backers also give them time (and a test market) to experiment with new ways to play and, most important of all, prove to their publisher that there’s an audience ready for more Chime.
With 32 days to go they’re already nearly at their goal so Chime Sharp looks all but certain. The target launch is planned for August 2015 on PC, Mac and Linux but there’s plenty of time for stretch goals that could result in console ports and more features. You can see and hear more about the game and even play a browser based demo at the official Chime Sharp site.
One of the ladies behind the scenes of the music of several games and films has released her sophomore concept album full which details a sci-fi epic journey through music.
Penka Kouneva has credits to several games, including score production on Gears of War 3 and the co-composer of Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands as well as orchestration of several Hollywood films including Elysium. Having released her first concept album, A Warrior’s Odyssey in 2012, Kouneva successfully Kickstarted her second album, The Woman Astronaut last year, with the album releasing through Hollywood soundtrack label Varese Sarabande.
“THE WOMAN ASTRONAUT is an original concept album, presented in a cinematic orchestral-electronica style, telling the story of the life journey of an astronaut: adolescence-homeland, young adult, and maturity.”
The 14-track album is still on pre-order, but will release on July 10th on the label’s website for $14.95.
One of the panels I would have attended at Anime Expo 2015 this year was titled: The Music of Yoko Kanno Fan Panel.
Anime Expo July 2, 2015 – The Music of Yoko Kanno Fan Panel 1:00pm to 2:30pm.
Do you love the music of “Ghost in the Shell: SAC,” “Cowboy Bebop,” “Terror in Resonance,” and “Space Dandy?” Then you have heard the music of Yoko Kanno! Yoko Kanno is one of the most fascinating composers of anime music working today. From her orchestral works, to her jazz works, to theme songs and background music, her works are always riveting, moving, and invigorating. Join professors David F. Lopez, Elliott Jones, and John Marr as they explore her diverse, fascinating, yet always engaging music!
The great news is that YouTube user Brent Rolland recorded the panel and you can watch it for yourself! Let us know what you thought of the panel and anything you would have liked to have been discussed.
If you’re a fan of nerdcore hip-hop artist Mega Ran and have been waiting with baited breath for the release of Mighty No.9, then this will be a double-score!
Random Beats has released “Your Favorite Song” from Mega Ran’s upcoming album, RNDM. The new album is set to release on September 15 of this year and will feature “Mighty!,” a collaboration with the fantastic Mega Man composer Manami Matsumae which will be featured during the credits of Mighty No. 9. As if that wasn’t enough, there will also be an additional collaboration with Castlevania composer Michiru Yamane.
To mark the release of RNDM in digital, CD, vinyl, and NES cartridge formats, Mighty No.9 studio COMCEPT is also providing the first 999 customers who pre-order the album a free download code for the MN9 soundtrack.
“This is a dream come true. “I’ve been working hard to land a videogame placement, and for this one to be the one, with a game and creator that I’m so close to, so inspired by, this is such a storybook tale. I’m really fortunate and I hope this is the first of many.”
- Mega Ran Press Release
You can pre-order RNDM on Bandcamp get in on the giveaway while the getting is good. You can also follow Mega Ran’s collaboration with Mighty No. 9 on the Random Beats website.
We’re all familiar with the likes of Humble Bundle and the Game Music Bundle but there are a handful of other bundling sites out there. Groupees is especially noteworthy as it regularly bundles games, music, graphic novels and digital art collections. Sometimes it’s a game and its soundtrack, other times the collections are curated by a game’s creator or even left to you to pick and choose individual items.
Debuting this week is the Badass Banana Bundle curated by eccentric electronic musician, Remute. The bundle includes nine games, five albums and access to a livestream on July 13th where Remute will mix a bunch of his favorite 16-bit game music. Giving the bundle its name is You Are Not a Banana, a humorous, pixelart audiovisual experiment that includes its own chiptune soundtrack. Other highlights include Remute’s 2009 album Grand Slam, a collection of Frederic “Elmobo” Motte’s demoscene tracks from the late 80’s/early 90’s and his entire soundtrack to the Amiga game, Fury of the Furries.
You can get all of that for a minimum donation of only $2.00 but you can give as much as you’d like. The bundle is scheduled to end on July 15th.
Stephen Baysted, award-winning British film, game and television composer has released his original soundtrack for the best-selling racing game Project CARS on publisher label Red Rocca. Baysted’s previous game soundtrack credits include The Walking Dead: Assault and Need For Speed series. Project CARS, released in May for PC and console, is a realistic racing simulator developed by Slightly Mad Studios and published by Namco Bandai that separates itself from industry leaders of the genre by being an open sandbox style of game, with Baysted lending his originality to the game’s score.
“Like all authentic racing simulation titles, there is no music during gameplay; car engines always take precedence. My job as composer is to try to enhance the player’s sense of immersion in this world of racing and deepen their emotional and psychological responses to it by ‘preparing’ them for the race. The music in the menu system is therefore dramatic, gripping, epic, gladiatorial and is infused with race day sounds – cars, crowds, tannoys – so that it links directly to the sound world they will be exposed to whilst racing.”
Stephen Baysted – Press Release
Project CARS is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Windows PC. You can purchase the Project CARS soundtrack via iTunes and Amazon for about $9.50 American dollars.
Occasionally I find myself searching bandcamp for keywords of things I like and stumble onto something great. Video Game Explosion is a recently released compilation by Square Punch (Lukas Daum). The album is available on Bandcamp right now for “name your price” and features five solid tracks remixing music from Castlevania, Lufia 2, Mega Man 2, Mega Man X and Mega Man X2.
Not only is the music great, but the cover art created for the album by Mike Lyon aka xHOJUx whose additional art you can check out on deviantart.com
I found the album because I was was searching for the keyword “SeaQuest”. I was big fan of the SeaQuest DSV/2032 television series. Square Punch created an awesome chip tune version of the SeaQuest 2032 theme song originally composed by Russ Landau, the game never existed but this will do just fine.
Square Punch has also released some great electronic albums also available on bandcamp for “name your price”. Check it out and let me know what you think.
I’ve been scrobbling my music listening activity to Last.fm since 2005. It’s one of the oldest music sites out there and it reveals fascinating things about myself like I listen to way too much Animal Crossing music. But now that there are a huge number of streaming music services it’s harder than ever to keep track of what we listen to. Thankfully, Last.fm is pretty open with their API and people are largely free to create software, plugins and apps that can scrobble listening activity back to your profile.
I’ve been listening to music on Bandcamp and Songza a lot lately and it finally sent me looking for a way to scrobble my activity from websites. That’s when I found Scroblr, an extension for Chrome and Safari browsers that pulls in listening activity from nearly 30 different places. With the changing nature of web coding, however, it’s good to keep the old saying “your milage may vary” in mind. I tried out the major sites and some random ones that I still had accounts for and found that most worked flawlessly.
Bandcamp, Google Play Music, Songza, Pandora, and Xbox Music all scrobbled without a hitch. YouTube worked as well and it’s worth noting that you have to click the Scroblr icon and confirm each video submission. This lets you define the track info any way you want and keeps it from scrobbling cat videos, movie trailers and Vine compilations as music. Unfortunately, two big hitters that didn’t work for me were Amazon Cloud Player and SoundCloud. At the same time, though, recent user reviews claim successes and failures all over the board so it seems like there’s a bit of random luck involved.
There are other variations of this plugin out there to try as well but for the sites I use, Scroblr is all I needed and is definitely worth trying if you’ve been looking for the same solution. Do you scrobble your music to Last.fm or keep track of it elsewhere? Where do you listen to video game music these days? Actually, hold that thought, it’d make for a good post of its own.
There are also four video game soundtracks available for $9.98 each: God of War: Ascension by Tyler Bates, Sorcery composed by Mark Mancina , Socom 4 composed by Bear McCreary, and Star Hawk composed by Christopher Lennertz.
All of these soundtracks are limited editions so if you’ve been waiting to pick some of these up now might be the right time!
There’s been a lot of excitement about the remake of Square Enix’s Final Fantasy VII. I myself am cautiously optimistic about the game, but I’m still quite excited. To help celebrate the announcement of the long requested remake, I thought we’d take a look at a Final Fantasy VII cover for this week’s Arrangement of the Week.
There are of course tons of covers, remixes, and arrangements of Nobuo Uematsu’s original soundtrack. With so much to choose from, it was definitely hard to pick out a favorite. This week’s arrangement is called “Still More Fighting” and comes to us from guitarist Brian Autumn. The cover is of the Final Fantasy VII boss fight theme, “Fight On!” aka “Those Who Fight Further.”
The video does a great job of showing off Brian’s skills at electric guitar and bass, and features footage from one of Final Fantasy VII’s boss fights. Oddly enough, it’s not a boss that actually uses “Fight On!” for its battle music. While it’s very common to find rock guitar arrangements of this piece, this arrangement goes beyond being a pure guitar cover, with inclusion of organ, synths, and string pads. It all fits well with the style of the original piece and with the original game footage. Uematsu’s battle themes do have a strong rock influence, particularly in Final Fantasy VII, so this cover stays very true to the original in terms of tone.
The source material is broken up by occasional but brief deviations and improvisations. For example, at around 1’30” he launches into an impressive series of rapid arpeggios on the lead guitar. My favorite moment though is the sudden switch to an orchestral arrangement at 2’30” for the summon in the battle. It’s a cool switch up that, in addition to matching the battle on screen, gives the cover a little more variety.
This was a nice little find from Brian Autumn. This actually appears to be his only videogame music cover, and an excellent one at that. If you’d like to listen to or download a copy of “Still More Fighting” that doesn’t include the video’s battle sound effects, you can do so at the artist’s Soundcloud page.
Have you heard any interesting new arrangements, remixes, or covers this week? Let us know in the comments below.