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The Midnight Chiptunes -Guilty Gear 8-Bit Arrange- (Review)

December 27, 2009 | | Comment? Share thison Facebook The Midnight Chiptunes -Guilty Gear 8-Bit Arrange- (Review)on Twitter

When Brendan Becker isn’t busy organizing the videogame convention extravaganza that is MAGFest, he is usually doing one of three things: eating Cheetoz, trying out female undergarments, or making chiptunes. Today, luckily for us and mankind, we will be looking at his latest chiptune project that will be quite familiar to some gamers out there.

The Midnight Chiptunes is a chiptune album done under Becker’s alias Inverse Phase. While many albums such as these feature all original music composed on their respective consoles, this is an arrangement album based on the Guilty Gear titles Guilty Gear XX and Guilty Gear XX #reload Korea. Tracks from the game have been “compressed” down to 8-bit style, and the result is quite interesting.

Click the jump to read our review of The Midnight Chiptunes

Brendan explains in the booklet that this CD was very much done as a spur-of-the-moment deal and therefor the presentation lacks some bells and whistles with mostly black on white with some grainy artwork of disproportionate nature. One thing of note is that whoever drew the cover really couldn’t have done a more freaky job on the eyes. I get sick just seeing its lifeless glare. Makes me question our existence, or at least the choice of artist.

So anyway, the music. As mentioned, the tracks here are 8-bit arrangements of various Guilty Gear tracks. The series has a reputation for its heavy metal soundtracks with face melting guitars and that sort of thing, so when you take on that style and decide to replicate it with noises, you’ve got some work ahead of you. Luckily, the result is very catchy.

The album as a whole features great use of arpeggios and harmonies, with a good dose of Sunsoft influence. Many of the songs use a very similar bass structure and drums from games like Batman and Fester’s Quest, and you can also pick up on some inspiration from Konami’s signature sound.  The track “Sol” sounds like something that could have been in TMNT 2: The Arcade Game. “Eddie” is probably my favorite track as it stands out the most as an excellent example of 8-bit music while still retaining the spirit of the original. “Ky” is also high on the list, thanks in part to the original being fantastic, but the approach taken here sounds almost like a beefed up Castlevania track.

However, this CD does have one major issue with its inclusion of material that I feel strongly against.  After the album’s ten chiptune arrangements, the tracklist repeats itself with the original source music in the background with the chip arrangements layered over the top.  This is something that a few arrangement artists in the US have done in the past and have tried to call it “style,” but if you ask me, I call it cheap. Once you bring in the original music, you bring up another issue of copyrights and effort, and you can argue that you use the original music to capture nostalgia in people, and mask the effort put into the actual product. In the case of this CD, the effort is good, so the inclusion of these tracks just puts a sour taste in my mouth.  I understand the intention of artists who try this approach, but for the general listener these tracks don’t add much to the product, and should probably be avoided altogether.

In the end, what you have here is a solid chiptune release with some worthy arrangements of a series that isn’t given much attention when it comes to remixes and arrangements, and I’m therefor glad Inverse Phase has done it.  While I strongly believe that the repeated tracks with the source material underneath should have been left out entirely, fans of Guilty Gear who want to add some quirky fun to their collections should check this one out.  It’s a good start at a good price, but make sure you stop listening when track ten is finished.

You can pick this up online or for $10 USD at MAGFest on January 1st.  See you all there!

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