Escaping the horrors of Resident Evil by running to one of the impenetrable Save Rooms has always helped me cope with the survival horror gameplay. The songs that accompany these rooms aren’t upbeat by any means but they’ve always been some of my favorites, offering just a hint of hope in their despondent melodies.
Now artist Mono Memory has taken one of my favorites from Resident Evil 2 and given it an even more foreboding synthwave makeover. Dripping with sounds of faux 80’s synths, I’m suddenly realizing that a full rearrangement of the soundtrack is something I never knew I wanted.
That may never happen but Mono Memory has plenty of similarly synthy tracks to check out including “Outrun the World” which serves as a teaser for his debut album coming this Summer. He’s also given the Game of Thrones theme a similar overhaul on his YouTube channel and has some other tracks and EPs available on Bandcamp. And if this track has stirred your desire for more old game music done up in the style of their times, check out Metroid Resynthesized by Luminist.
Small Radios Big Televisions is a surreal indie game that I discovered amongst the IGF entrants in 2015 and have been patiently waiting to hear and see more of ever since. At the time it was a simple web-based prototype but its striking visual style and trippy ambiance was already well established. After much silence the game has emerged again ahead of its November 8th release date on Steam and PlayStation 4 with a new trailer and a soundtrack pre-order.
Like an abstract point-and-click adventure, the game has you mousing around factories in an abandoned sky-world in search of analog cassette tapes. When played back in your TD-525 device they transport you to surreal virtual worlds where you soon discover new ways to manipulate and explore the spaces.
As you might expect the soundscapes that accompany this mish-mash of future tech and retro aesthetics is heavy on distortion and synthwave. There were already some great things to be heard in the prototype (still playable) but if the sample track, “Tundra”, above is any indication then the full score is much more nuanced. It has that airy, synth ambiance I loved in Fez and PONCHO and I can’t wait to hear the remaining 23 tracks on the album. You can pre-order the album now for $5 on Bandcamp. Full price on launch, and the price for the game itself, have yet to be announced.
Traxmaster Software has just announced the artists that will be providing the music for their upcoming PC platformer, Exception. As you might expect for a game that glows through a grid of scanlines with the neon tinge of the 80’s, the soundtrack will be heavy on synthwave. Contributors include Waveshaper, Zero Call, Protector 101, Kalax, Daroc, Preqwal, Lueur Verte and Compilerbau.
You can get a feel for the music and Exception’s lightning fast gameplay (think N+ or Super Meat Boy) in the new soundtrack trailer above. Check out the official site for more on the game and its music leading up to Exception’s mid-2016 launch on Steam.
If you’ve fallen down the Hotline Miami hole thanks to a recent sale or if you’re just in the mood for some new synthwave, French electronic artist, Dubmood, might have your next new album. Dubmood contributed the track “Richard” to Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number but has also produced several demo tracks that were unused in the final game. With those tracks as a basis — and taking inspiration from the mood and soundscapes of Hotline Miami — Dubmood has created the original album, Force De Frappe. Releasing December 21st on the Data Airlines label, the album will be available in all your favorite retro formats with a unique mix of the music on each.
The $18 vinyl release includes a premium cardboard sleeve, folded A2 poster and extended versions of 9 tracks. The $10 cassette tape is being produced in one of the world’s last cassette tape plants and also contains a unique mix plus 3 tracks not available in any other format. For those interested in the story behind the music the cassette tape also comes with a unique printed epilogue. The $10 CD album is being packaged inside a 5.25” floppy disc shell in both black and white and contains the album’s full 14 tracks. Finally, there’s the 14-track digital version which is also included with all the physical releases so no matter how you buy Force De Frappe you still get the full musical experience.
Of the music’s design, Dubmood explains, “When [Hotline Miami Co-Creator Dennis Wedin] approached me about working on Hotline Miami 2, he asked if I could do something more along the lines of a film soundtrack. The creative process for the game was inspired by the generation of ’80s movies that in Sweden are known as ‘VHS-Violence’ or ‘Video-Violence,’ like Robocop, Escape from New York, the Mortal Kombat movies, etc., so with the unused demo submissions I had created, it was easy to sequence them together with new tracks to create a movie scenario because they weren’t written to accompany just a level, menu or boss fight. In that way, this album tells a story, setting the stage of a dark, cold and dystopic Gothenburg at the brink of nuclear war.”
You can pre-order the album and all of its limited edition physical releases now on the official Bandcamp page.
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.
Original Sound Version
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