Back in September I asked the video game music community “What Game has the most Music?” and quickly realized that MMOs are the juggernauts in this category. With updates and expansions spread out over several years, though, it’s never easy to keep track of all that music but MMOs.com is doing an admirable job. The site has been around since January and aims to cover every kind of MMO out there — from free-to-play RPGs all the way down to mobile puzzlers — including their soundtracks.
The Music section of their site currently represents nearly 200 games with curated SoundCloud playlists. This covers the heavy hitters like Guild Wars 2 and Final Fantasy XIV as well as DOTA, League of Legends and smaller/older titles like Pangya, Dofus, Trove, and many more. Each game also has a nice little wiki hub so you can read an overview with development details or MMOs’ content while listening. In most cases their playlists aren’t comprehensive but it’s turned out to be a a great place to start if you’ve got a specific MMO soundtrack in mind or — in my case — are just curious about what some of these games are.
It’s often hard as one who simply appreciates game music and isn’t in the industry to really know what happens behind the scenes with regards to how game music composers and game musicians are treated. I would wager that a fair share of us are relatively ignorant as to the trials and tribulations that game music writers and composers face when trying to obtain and keep a steady flow of reasonable work, and what sacrifices need to be made.
Recently the hashtag #PerformanceMatters appeared trending on Twitter in regards to the plight that video game voice actors face in the games industry in terms of fair work for fair wages and worker’s rights. The hashtag made the general gaming public aware of some of the poor conditions video game VAs face from some of the biggest names in voice acting and got people talking. It also started to raise questions about how other aspects of video games fare in terms of treatment of their respective “parts”. Internet and Youtube game reviewer John “Total Biscuit” Bain raised the question as to how video game composers might also be treated in the industry.
It’s October, which means it’s officially Halloween month. For the next five weeks, Arrangement of the Week will be featuring some of our favorite Halloween themed game music. This will of course include music from horror titles, but there will also be some selections from specific macabre themed sections of games. This week we will be starting out with an example of the latter.
Rare’s Banjo-Kazzoie has a good deal of variety to its levels. While the game contains your usual snow, dessert, and forest levels, there’s also a great Halloween themed level called Mad Monster Mansion. This level’s music has a light-hearted playfulness to it, much like the rest of the soundtrack, while still keeping it in a classic spooky horror genre. Today’s arrangement, “Malevolent Mansion,” is an electronic remix of “Mad Monster Mansion” from artists Sole Signal and Nekofrog.
The track starts at a steady pace and at first it feels like this will be a relatively mellow dance track. But once the main melody comes in, the piece launches into a more energetic interpretation. While the primary elements of this remix remain the electronic instruments, there’s also a healthy dose of orchestral instruments and accompaniment from Nekofrog’s guitar parts.
What makes this remix really enjoyable is the continuing shifts in pacing and energy. The arrangement jumps frequently between fast paced electronic rock and a less manic orchestral arrangement. This unpredictability in pacing and tone gives the impression of a wild and crazy haunted house ride. The overall result is a piece that remains surprising and fun to listen to all the way through. A perfect way to get into the Halloween spirit.
Have any favorite Halloween arrangements, remixes, or covers of your favorite game music? Feel free to share them with us in the comments below. You can check out Sole Signal and Nekofrog’s “Malevolent Mansion” at OC Remix.
The majority of the conversation around Metal Gear Solid V’s music has been about the game’s licensed 80’s tracks. Set in 1984, the game’s huge environments are peppered with boomboxes at desert outposts and hostile facilities that belt out some of the most popular tracks of the decade. “Rebel Yell”, “She Blinded Me With Science” and “The Final Countdown” are just a few of the ‘Top 40’ mega hits you can find in the game. But there’s another collection of cassette tapes out in the game world full of original music, the majority of which aren’t featured on either of the game’s soundtrackreleases.
These songs feel much more like the Metal Gear music we’ve come to expect. No, there’s no smoldering stealth sax from Norihiko Hibino or 60’s spy funk like Snake Eater but these tracks serve as fitting ambiance for a Metal Gear game. They sound like they could’ve come from the 80’s and yet somehow still fit the overall themes of The Phantom Pain’s main soundtrack. I really want to call out a few of these songs in particular because the original music is easily overshadowed by the licensed stuff.
Combining an edgier synth sound, a shade of New Order’s darker guitar rock and growling lyrical samples, “Behind the Drapery” could’ve come from an obscure German Industrial group you discovered on a newsgroup. Similarly themed is “Nitrogen” with its dark synthwave arrangement. It’s perfectly paced and just subtle enough to load up on Snake’s Walkman to accompany a midnight sneaking mission.
Another good sneaking track is “The Tangerine” which is closest in style to Metal Gear Solid 2’s ambient music. A simple synth melody sets the pace while a soulful horn slowly rises and falls. Add in a hint of guitar wafting by and you could close your eyes and be back on the Big Shell. It’s also nice and long and easy to set your Walkman to loop it in the game.
Especially noteworthy is “How ‘bout them zombies ey?”, which I’d boil down to an EDM hommage to Michiru Yamane’s Castlevania sound. It’s really quite an incredible amalgamation of autotuned vocal samples, synth bass and organs. It’s got multiple breakdowns and just has a wonderful, dark 80’s synth feel. More than any other track, this is the one I get stuck in my head most often.
On the lighter side, “Take the D.W.” could easily be an instrumental version of an anime theme song. Maybe that’s the idea as there are several tongue-in-cheek posters in the game along those lines. Regardless, it’s full of bright keys that pop along while a tinny synth saws out a fun melody. Similarly light is “Ride a White Horse”, a nice soft rock style piece with some touching guitar and synth movements. If this were in Snake Eater I would totally expect it to greatly refill your stamina.
These are just a few of the 25 tracks on Music Tape 1. You can take a listen to the entire selection with this playlist and don’t forget to check out the Original Soundtrack Selection and the new Vocal Tracks album, out now on iTunes. And if you came here looking for those “real songs” from the game and you read this far I’ll throw you a link too.
You may have already seen the reveal of Cartoon Network and Turbo Button’s VR action game, Adventure Time: Magic Man’s Head Games, but did you hear it? Like a good VR camera system that doesn’t nauseate everyone who sees it, music is one of those under-appreciated elements of game design. For Magic Man’s Head Games award-winning composer, Erik Desiderio (SMS Racing, This Means War!), was given free reign to take the franchise in new directions. That’s resulted in a quirky and organic theme song with players on banjo, horns, fretless electric bass, harmonica, accordion, and more. Oh, and there’s lots of whistling.
“I was a huge fan of the show before being contacted about this project,” notes composer Erik Desiderio. “I especially enjoyed the first episode with Magic Man, who acts as the primary antagonist for this game. The playful nature of the Adventure Time universe afforded me the opportunity to work with some of my frequent collaborators and incorporate lots of fun instruments. Somehow, though, despite their various talents, everyone insisted that they be able to whistle on the soundtrack. I had no choice but to comply and join in myself!”
The results can be seen and heard above in a new music video featuring the theme song to the game. The video is a live action mosaic of the performers alongside footage from the game which is available for free on the Samsung Gear VR store. The game itself takes inspiration from classic 3D platformers like Banjo-Kazooie with Jake even riding in Finn’s backpack. The player observes the action through the VR headset from a third-person perspective where Jake’s stretchy limbs help ease some of the jerky, nauseating camera movements that VR users frequently run into.
Another highly anticipated album, Seiken Densetsu/Legend of Mana Arrangement Album: Promise featuring arrangements of music by Yoko Shimomura will be released on September 30, 2015.
Square Enix Music has posted samples of all the albums 12 tracks which you can listen to here. The translated English track list is as follows:
Hometown of Domina
To the Sea
Legend of Mana
Singing Wind, Journey’s Path
Tango Appassionata – As the Heart Wills
Such Cruel Fate
Seven Shades of Life – Bejeweled City in Ruins
Nostalgic Song Reprise – Finale
Song of MANA
From what I’ve heard of the samples, the majority of the music has a soul bossa nova sound to it. The album is available for pre-order from Square Enix Music. Is this an album you’re looking forward to?
Sometimes you read the description of an arrangement and wonder how on earth it could possibly work. When I first discovered today’s arrangement, I was skeptical about hearing a metal cover of a Kirby Super Star track. When I think of the music of Kirby games, I usually imagine something bright, energetic, and upbeat. However, I usually like to give something an opportunity to surprise me and today’s arrangement has done just that.
“The Savior of Dreamland” is an orchestral metal arrangement of “Coliseum Battle” by frequent OC Remix contributor Sixto Sounds. Sixto has a reputation for creating some truly impressive arrangements of videogame tunes. The original track plays in the Arena mode of Kirby Super Star, which is that game’s boss rush mode. It’s all about battling big baddies, so perhaps the match up of metal in this arrangement isn’t as far fetched as I’d initially thought.
The piece starts of quietly with a lone guitar, but charges up straight into distorted guitar riffs of the main chord progression. A lead guitar comes in with the melody and for a while it sounds like this will be a straight forward electric guitar cover. However, at 1’31” brass and strings enter in to join the rhythm guitar as harmonic back-up. The affect of this is a metal arrangement that has a strong flamenco flavor to it. Quite an appropriate tone for music from a battle arena. You can almost picture Kirby as a bull fighter entering the ring to face his opponents.
The orchestral instruments don’t take a back seat for this arrangement either. At 2’30” a trumpet takes over the melody for the guitar. Eventually the piece returns to a mostly electric guitar mix, with Sixto Sounds performing some impressive lead solo work before concluding the arrangement. An impressive interpretation, that surprisingly finds a way to stay true to the source material and delivers an excellent listening experience.
Have you discovered any surprising metal interpretations of your favorite game music? Let us know in the comments below. You can check out Sixto Sounds’ “The Savior of Dream Land” on OC Remix.
If you happened to catch the trailer for Fallout 4, which we’re going to guess is a majority of you, then you’ve already heard a sample of the music for the new game. Composer Inon Zur has been writing music for the Fallout series since 2001, beginning with Fallout Tactics. Naturally, he has continued that role for Bethesda’s next entry in the Fallout series. While working on the soundtrack of Fallout 4, Zur has performed and recorded a solo piano arrangement of the game’s main theme.
A new Fallout 4blog post by Gary Steinman goes into more detail about Inon Zur’s process of creating music for the world of Fallout 4. Like previous Fallout soundtracks, classical instruments will not be the only sources of music. Other sources will include electronic instruments, ethnic/primitive instruments, and other less traditional sources of sound. It’s a fascinating read for those interested in the development of the game and its music.
Fallout 4 will be launching on November 10th for PC, XBox One, and PlayStation 4.
Coinciding with the release of the Plague of Shadows DLC for Shovel Knight, Jake “Virt” Kaufman has released the expansion’s soundtrack on his Bandcamp page. While much of the Plague of Shadows expansion has you exploring previous stages from the main game, there are a few extra areas, characters, and of course new pieces of music.
Many of the new music tracks written for Plague of Shadows are based on the Plague Knight theme, which was composed by Manami Matsumae for the original Shovel Knight soundtrack. This fourteen track album includes music written for the expansion and some extra goodies, including the expansion’s orchestral trailer music, a duet with Jeff Ball and Kaufman, and a song “ALCHEMY” that Kaufman wrote with Dale North.
As with the original Shovel Knight OST, the Plague of Shadows OST is pay-what-you-want. You can grab the Shovel Knight: Plague of Shadows OST on Jake Kaufman’s Bandcamp page, and be sure to pick up the original Shovel Knight OST, if you haven’t already.
Today’s Arrangement of the Week contains music from two different franchises and features a collaboration between a number of artists. The first game series is Assassin’s Creed, with the use of “Ezio’s Family” and the AC: Revelations “Title Theme.” The second franchise is Metal Gear Solid, being represented by the song “The Best is Yet to Come.”
The arrangement piece titled “Never Go Away,” is headed by remix artist DJ Mystix. Collaborating with him for this project are Chris “Amaterasu” Woo on Violin and Claire Yaxley on vocals. Together they have created an arrangement blending the music of Assassin’s Creed and Metal Gear Solid.
The cover starts off with a statement of “Ezio’s Family” from Assassin’s Creed 2, performed by a set of acoustic instruments, with Yaxley’s vocals coming in to reinforce the main melody. Around the one minute mark, Amaterasu enters on the violin with some original material to help transition to the first Metal Gear Solid segment. At 1’15” the vocals reenter for “The Best is Yet to Come” from Metal Gear Solid.
The arrangement as a whole has a very light pop music feel to it. Plenty of acoustic instruments like piano and strings, with just a handful of elements like the drums and bass helps give the music a modern pop sound. Most of the cover has Yaxley and Amaterasu taking turns as soloists. The “Title Theme” from Assassin’s Creed: Revelations shows up around 3’45” before returning to a final reprise of “The Best is Yet to Come.” On this reprise, at 4’30”, both the solo violin and vocalist share the spotlight, helping create a bigger finale for the arrangement. It’s an excellent collaboration between artists that also incorporates the music of multiple game titles in interesting ways.
Have you listened to any cool or unexpected mashups of game music this week? Let us know about them in the comments below. You can check out “Never Go Away” on OC ReMix.
Pokemon: Symphonic Evolutions — an audio/visual symphony performing orchestral arrangements of Pokemon themes — has been stopping at venues around the United States and Canada since last August. So it’s good news today for the rest of the world as The Pokemon Company has announced the first date “across the pond” for the UK. It’s also a good time to recap the rest of their international shows for our readers around the globe.
The London premiere will take place on Sunday, December 20th at the Hammersmith Apollo theatre with Susie Benchasil Seiter conducting the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra. Before they reach the UK, though, the show has several stops planned for Mexico and Australia.
Take a look at the table below for the upcoming international shows and check out the official site for more U.S. dates in 2016. You can also check out the Wikipedia page for Symphonic Evolutions to get an idea of which songs and which games you can expect to hear.
What is Nova-111? The designers Funktronic Labs describes it as a turn based sci-fi adventure game that plays in real time featuring science and aliens! I spent some time playing the game but have spent more time listening to the soundtrack composed by Jack Menhorn. The game reminded me of a combination of The Adventures of Lolo and Sokoban but more visualy like the work of French Artist Moebius.
Jack Menhorn is not new to video game composing and has written the music for several titles including: Robots Need Love Too, Relic Rush, and Hack Slash Loot. For Nova-111 Jack Menhorn has composed 15 tracks totalling just under 56 minutes of music. Read on to hear my thoughts on the music of Nova-111.