With our staff posts out on the site we wanted to turn to you, the OSV community, to hear your own personal Original Soundtrack Of The Year picks for 2016. Let us know in the comments your selections for Soundtrack of the Year, Arrangement Album of the Year and any other unique categories you can dream up. Favorite Physical Release maybe? What about Vocal Performance of the Year or… Best use of a Piccolo?
If you need some refreshing on 2016 releases or if you missed our posts the first time around here’s a few links to catch you up: Shawn’s Picks, Brenna’s Picks, Michael’s Picks, Ryan’s Picks. There wasn’t a bit of overlap between our picks this year so don’t worry about conformity, go wild, these picks are all about you.
I’ve been playing a lot of Dragon Quest Builders lately and while the music is delightful — especially for fans of the series with loads of rearranged themes from previous titles — it’s kind of killing me. Most sandbox crafting/survival games follow in the Minecraft mold with minimal and atmospheric soundscapes, if they incorporate music at all. Spending hours meticulously placing blocks and scavenging for resources doesn’t require a galant fanfare or sugary melodies with short loops. Without the distraction of life-threatening combat these tunes have quickly invaded my consciousness and I find them banging around in my head for hours after I’ve stopped playing.
I know what you’re going to say, “Shawn, just turn the volume down”, and in any other game that would totally work. But, you see, for unfathomable reasons you can only turn the music in Dragon Quest Buildersdown, never off. It’s kind of become a sticking point for some of us on the game’s subreddit and the only consolation I can think of is to ask for similar stories from our dear readers here at OSV.
Are there any soundtracks that started out great but quickly got on your nerves? A town tune or shop music that sent you running for the overworld map? Maybe a main menu theme that you left idling for too long? Share your pain in the comments below.
The popular video casting service Twitch TV and its earlier incarnation Justin TV has allowed gamers to show off their skills to audiences for many years. Recently Twitch has been expanding the streaming content to include creative streams. Under the Creative category, casters have been live streaming painting, cooking, and even metal work. One of the other emerging types of creative streams has been music production.
There are a number of music artists, composers, and arrangers who have decided to use their Twitch channel to give their fans a behind-the-scenes look at how the music that they love is made. A lot can be learned by observing how a music producer writes, mixes, and arranges music, so streams like these can be valuable tools for other music creators or for fans who want to see the creative process. Today I’ll be highlighting some of the Twitch streams that you can tune into on a regular basis. (more…)
In case you missed it, Original Sound Version recently conducted an extensive interview with composer Robyn Miller Known where we discussed his score to Cyan Worlds latest game, Obduction. We also briefly touched on the composers work on the game Myst and Riven. You can read the full interview with the composer here. One of the topics we covered was music that did not make it into the game.
Following the interview Robyn Miller said he planned to share some of this music on his Soundcloud page. I for one have always loved behind the scenes videos ever since movie box sets came with bonus VHS Tapes. The composer shared three of these tracks about a month ago. It is not that often that we as listeners get to hear the behind the scenes of a video game soundtrack, but you can listen to those tracks with Robyn Miller’s comments here.
Happy Halloween (to those who subscribe to the holiday)! We’ve shared some of our personal favorites over the past weeks and years and now we want to hear some of your own. Truly terrifying or playfully macabre. Squirming out of ancient PC sound hardware or freshly released deceased. Or anywhere in between.
Share some of your favorite spooky game music in the comments below and if you need a little inspiration here are a few of our recent and popular Halloween themed features:
This past Monday was the 30th anniversary of Castlevania, a franchise that has been a cornerstone of video gaming for so many of us since our childhoods. On September 26th, 1986, Akumajo Dracula, or Demon Castle Dracula as it translates, was released for the Famicom Disk System in Japan, and the legendary feud between the Belmont clan and Count Dracula was born.
For me, Castlevania was not only an indulgence of my childhood love of vampire stories and movie monsters, but the music of the series became the baseline for which I rated so many game soundtracks through my life. Granted, I loved my Sonic the Hedgehog and Golden Axe as a Genesis kid, but the soundtracks from the Castlevania series stuck with me, and impacted a lot of how I perceived game music from childhood to adult hood. If I played it at 8 or 28, the series soundtracks are hands down my favorite of any game franchise.
Thus, in a bit of self-indulgence and as a tribute to 30 years of whip-cracking, wall meat-finding, vampire-slaying goodness, I’ve made a list of my favorite music from each game in Castlevania‘s lifetime; from the very first game all the way through to Lords of Shadow. (I’m omitting the Pachislot games as they’re basically all re-used music and Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate since I never played it) Granted, OSV has covered the music of Castlevaniaseveraltimesbefore, but consider this a brief perusing through of the history of the franchise’s music in all its iterations.
A few weeks ago, Shaun posed the question of what the very first game soundtrack album you ever heard was. This got me thinking of my own past dealing with video game music and getting into “the scene”, as it were. I started thinking about the first time I started looking up game music on the internet (circa 1999-ish?), which lead to my eventual discovery of video game music *remixes*. While arranging game music had been something people had been doing for a a while prior to the internet really gaining traction, sites like Overclocked Remix & VGMix became the centralized places for potential arrangers to congregate and show off their works by the early 2000’s. The scene grew to the point musicians were challenging one anothers abilities in arrangement competitions, and thus places like Dwelling of Duels were created.
So this got my brain juices flowing in my quest to remember what my very video game music remix was. (No small task, as my memory is shite.) Having scrolled through the plethora the old arrangements I’d saved over the course of almost a decade an a half of saved remixes, I settled on two that clicked the lightbulb in my brain. I’m not sure which one came first as I’d discovered them pretty much at the same time in 2000. Back then I’d stuck to the game music I’d been limited to as a kid, which was 90% Sega Genesis titles, which some Amiga, NES and Gameboy thrown in here and there for variety.
Castlevania being one of my most beloved game series back then (despite only owning 2 titles, and playing others elsewhere), I remember somehow traipsing across an arrangement from Castlevania The Adventure by Mike “McVaffe” Vafeas called “Tempest Mix“. Trance and techno music appealed to me heavily back in those days, and this arrangement of “Revenge” from Castlevania Adventure hit the spot for me. It had just enough of the source to grab me and keep my head bobbing for days. This is the same reason I’d come across the other arrangement I remember as being one of the two “firsts” I’d found. Golden Axe was another penultimate title for me as a kid, so “Death Adder Trance” by OCR founder David “djpretzel” Lloyd also hit the spot in terms of appealing to my love of Golden Axe’s music, in this case level 1’s “Wilderness”, and satisfying my fixation on dance-able music. For years I’d pop both of these tracks on from my burned CDs of remix music I’d accumulated and blast them in my beat-up Buick Century.
So what was your first video game music remix? It doesn’t have to be your favorite, but the first you remember listening to ever. Were you specifically looking for arrangements from a certain game? Where’d you find it? Let us know in the comments!
For the next installment of the Community Question we want to take things back a ways. How far back? All the way. Back to your first video game music soundtrack purchase or acquisition, if it happened to be a gift or maybe a “steal”. We’re not judging. For the sake of this one we’ll put aside homemade recordings or rips; that’ll make for a nice follow up question down the line. Let us know what your first game music album was (and if you still have it) in the comments while I get things started.
I’d forgotten the details behind how I got my first official album and had to do some quick Googling just now. It turns out that Sonic the Hedgehog Boom was my very first game music album and pre-order bonus. By clipping a coupon from the ad above (scan courtesy of Dinosaur Dracula) and heading to Toys ”R” Us you could put $10 down on Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and get a copy of the album when the game launched on February 2nd, 1994. I’m not sure why the coupon was necessary but I’d do whatever it took to grab a legitimate video game soundtrack released to the US. It didn’t hurt that I was already going to get Sonic 3.
The album itself is both noteworthy and a little strange. For a Sonic 3 pre-order bonus you’d think it might contain at least one song from the game but the tracklist features 23 songs from Sonic CD and Sonic Spinball instead. These aren’t just ripped right from the source and slapped on a disc either. The first 19 tracks include some extended versions of Sonic CD’s US soundtrack and the music from Sonic Spinball is completely rearranged. I’m happy to say that unlike a lot of games I’ve owned, I still have every soundtrack I ever bought, including this one. The case is pretty worn after years of shoving it into storage racks and taking it on drives but it’s still intact and surprisingly unmarred by scratches.
What about you? What was your first game music album and do you still have it? Let us know below.
Koichi Sugiyama may not be a familiar name to a lot of gamers in the West, but he is a very well known figure in Japan. He is the man behind the music of the Dragon Quest series (originally released as Dragon Warrior in the West), which despite having only achieved an overall modest success in the United States, is very popular in Japan. Koichi Sugiyama’s style for the music that he writes for the Dragon Quest games is very unique, and it has been a significant influence on other video game music composers as well. I’ll be going through some of his work on the primary games of the Dragon Quest series and taking a look at what makes his music uniquely his, and how his style has changed over the course of the series.
Now that most of us have had our chance to call out some favorites from 2015, it’s your turn. This time around we narrowed down our categories to:
Game Soundtrack of the Year
Artist/Composer of the Year
Arrangement Album of the Year
Let us know your top picks in the comments and feel free to throw in any special categories or mentions of your own. If you need some inspiration or missed them the first time around you can always check out our OSVOSTOTY picks for 2015: Michael, Brenna, Patrick, Ryan and Shawn.
My day job has exploded into a whirlwind of spreadsheets and Word docs as everyone scrambles to do everything before the holidays. On the bright side, that means I’ve got more time than I’ve ever had at a job to listen to music. Not in the analytical, write-a-review way, more in the “know what I haven’t heard in a long time” way. I copied my entire game music collection onto a flash drive and while it is in no way complete, it’s full of soundtracks I love. Or as I would quickly come to realize: used to love.
For this installment of the Community Question we want to hear about your burnout songs. Those soundtracks you used to love listening to that aren’t in heavy rotation nowadays. The ones that send your finger flying for the Skip button that you used to insist on repeating at least two times in a row.
My go-to answer for this question is maybe a little controversial: it’s Super Mario Bros. There was a time in the early 2000’s when I loved hearing every marching band and high school choir turn in their rendition of the original game’s legendary themes. I grabbed remixes and arrangements, orchestrations and crappy band covers. But after thirty years with these songs there aren’t many treatments left that I don’t outright skip these days. It’s classic, iconic music without a doubt, I just don’t need to hear it very frequently anymore.
Less blasphemous are a lot of guitar rock and techno soundtracks from the mid-to-late 90’s. The early Need for Speed entries, Guilty Gear, GoldenEye, MDK2, Destruction Derby and many others were the soundtrack to my daily life back then. Today they typically generate only a nostalgic smirk before I proclaim “Next!” and hit the button.
Your turn! Let us know some of your old favorite songs or soundtracks you just aren’t that into in the comments.
When the original Xbox launched with its 10 gigabyte hard drive, one of the uses Microsoft touted was custom soundtracks. I was immediately enamored with the idea after having shoved my own music into several PC games in the past. But what I imagined for the console was more daydream-y than the reality that the Xbox, and even the Xbox 360, delivered.
All I really wanted was options: the ability to tell a game, “these are the songs I want to hear during a fight and these are the songs I want to hear when I’m at a shop”. Sadly, this kind of musical customization is so rare that I completely forgot how much I wanted it until I picked up Double Damage’s Rebel Galaxy. It’s an extra surprising feature to find in a game whose most striking stylistic design is its soundtrack. The typical trappings of interstellar, sci-fi ship combat are set to a melange of grungy rock and blues tunes and peppered with gruff vocals and plenty of slide guitar. It adds a rough ‘n tumble, space cowboy feel to the game which has earned it loads of praise as “Firefly: The Game”.
As good as that music is, when I load the game up and see the option for “Custom Music” I simply can’t proceed until I try out something new. It’s not as boring as “here’s my music library, play something”, that’s the stuff Xbox consoles have been able to do for years. Instead, you can define the music used during combat, when docked at stations and when idly flying around the universe; you can even set the title screen music.
Appropriately, the first thing I did was set the Firefly theme for the title screen. Fitting. Mark Mancina’s score to SPEED worked well for combat and Ghost Monkey’s soundtrack to Zen Bound perfectly set the ambiance of space cruising. Simply slotting in albums doesn’t always make for a smooth fit as I’m sure you can imagine. So now I’ve moved on to compiling a collection of songs fit for Space Business and I’m getting close to spending more time curating than playing.
It’s a fun obsession, though, and one I’ve been waiting a long time to indulge in. Ironically, I may have curated a soundtrack that’s more typical of the genre but it’s only my first attempt. It’s full of bombastic orchestral battle themes and twinkly strings and percussion. You can check it out in action above. Like the urge to create that Super Mario Maker inspires, the ability to bring my own creative touches to this game has sent my imagination running. I’ve got all kinds of ideas for new soundtracks to play around with now. Even if it only amounts to a handful of unfinished playlists it’s been fun playing a sound designer of sorts for the last few weeks.
What about you? Have you ever injected your own music into a game? Built a custom soundtrack on a console or swapped out the music files in a PC game? Leave a comment and let us know.
Gather ‘round, video game music nerds—I’m not going to let you sleep on what I’m calling right now as my favorite video game score of the year: the Owlboy OST.
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