Archive for the ‘Publishers & Developers’ Category

Capcom & OverClocked ReMix Make Video Game Soundtrack History

Thursday, November 27th, 2008
Capcom & OverClocked ReMix Make Video Game Soundtrack History

By: David W. Lloyd, press@ocremix.org

November 27, 2008

Fairfax, VA — OverClocked ReMix today released for free download its official soundtrack to Capcom’s Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix game for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 game consoles. While video game companies have worked with fans in the past, HD Remix is the first major video game with a completely fan-made soundtrack. More than twenty gamers from around the world contributed remixes of the original Street Fighter games’ music for inclusion in the updated game, in styles including jazz, hip-hop, reggaeton, spaghetti western, garage rock, big beat and electronica.

The official soundtrack is available for download free of charge at http://www.ocremix.org/hdremix/.

Over 2 million visitors a year download OverClocked ReMix’s free, fan-made arrangements of music from both classic and modern video games, but HD Remix marks the community’s first contribution to an official commercial title. Both the game and its soundtrack have received critical acclaim, with IGN’s Ryan Clements describing the music as “a great tribute to the original soundtrack” and Tyler Nagata of GamesRadar writing that “Unlike so many remakes of classic fighters, Turbo HD has soul… You can hear it in the new remixed soundtrack, developed with the help of fans from OverClocked ReMix.”

OverClocked ReMix was approached by Capcom in June of 2007 to provide HD Remix’s score after the company discovered the OC ReMix Street Fighter II remix album, Blood on the Asphalt. Rey Jimenez, Associate Producer for Capcom, worked directly with the fan community to communicate requirements and feedback.”Working with the OC ReMix crew has been one of the most rewarding aspects of working on SF HD Remix, truly making the game a community effort. These guys are part of the meat and potatoes of what makes the Street Fighter fanbase such a lasting part of the gaming industry,” said Jimenez. “They worked above and beyond our expectations and I’m hoping that we’ll be able to work together in the future.”

About OverClocked ReMix

Founded in 1999, OverClocked ReMix is an organization dedicated to the appreciation, preservation, and interpretation of video game music. Its primary focus is www.ocremix.org, a website featuring hundreds of free fan arrangements, information on game music and composers, resources for aspiring artists, and a thriving community of video game music fans.

Links

OC ReMix: Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix Official Soundtrack -
http://www.ocremix.org/hdremix/

Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix Official Homepage -
http://games.capcomdigital.com/streetfighteriihdr/

IGN Review -
http://xboxlive.ign.com/articles/932/932803p1.html

GamesRadar Review -
http://www.gamesradar.com/xbox360/super-street-fighter-ii-turbo-hd-remix-xbox-live-arcade/review/super-street-fighter-ii-turbo-hd-remix-xbox-live-arcade/a-2008112512231658062/g-20071203135633623029

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Grant Kirkhope departs Rare, wraps up with Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts soundtrack

Monday, July 14th, 2008

Grant Kirkhope announced today via MySpace that he’s leaving Rare, his workplace of the past 13 years:

Well everyone…..it’s a very sad time, I have to tell you all that I’ve resigned from Rare. This Friday (18th) will be my last day at the company. Recording the stuff in Prague with Robin for Banjo has been my last task before I leave.

Needless to say my time at Rare has been the most amazing and rewarding experience imaginable and I’m going to miss not being there.

Nearly 13 years ago now, Rare gave a long haired metal fan a chance that no-one else would and I am forever in their debt.

I’ve worked with some fantastically talented people and it’s their creativity that has spurred me on to write and create the stuff I have………I really can’t put it into words.

I wish the company and people there all the luck in the world!

Grant.

I actually just left him a MySpace message a few days ago for his birthday; one thing I mentioned was how excellent the first Viva Piñata soundtrack was. I’d express sadness at these current events, but the circumstances haven’t been publicized. And as far as I’m aware, Kirkhope can write his own ticket as far as his career is concerned, which is great. So, following the initial rough patch of feelings after leaving a long-time employer like Rare, I’m excited at what he has the potential to do now.

Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts screenshot

Of course, I’m looking forward to the eventual release of Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts on the Xbox 360 to hear his final work with Rare. Best of luck to Grant as we see what the future holds for him!

OC ReMix Interviews Wipeout composer Tim Wright (CoLD SToRAGE)

Thursday, June 5th, 2008

By: Larry Oji, larryoji@ocremix.org

“A good tune is a good tune. That’s basically it! If a melody can stand the test of time when it’s being played with a one channel sine wave, then it can stand being a fully orchestrated piece of music. I guess really it’s substance over style.”

- Tim Wright, OC ReMix Interview

June 5, 2008

Fairfax, VA — OverClocked ReMix today published its first video game composer interview, with pioneering British VGM composer Tim “CoLD SToRAGE” Wright. Wright helped usher electronica into professional game scores with his work on the landmark racing title Wipeout, released in 1995 by Psygnosis for the then-emerging Sony PlayStation. The interview touches on other career highlights such as Wright’s days composing for the Commodore Amiga, his development of popular music creation programs eJay and MUSIC (a.k.a. MTV Music Generator), and his upcoming original album, CoLD SToRAGE HD, which functions as an unofficial soundtrack to Sony’s latest title in the Wipeout franchise, Wipeout HD for the PlayStation 3.

The interview is available online at http://www.ocremix.org/info/Composer_Interview:_CoLD_SToRAGE_%28Tim_Wright%29.

Conducted by site staff, OC ReMix interviews cover major aspects of a composer’s career, featuring targeted questions unique to each subject, as well a standard list of questions that specifically delve into a musician’s formative years, creative inspirations, and views on the current state of the game music industry. This unique format presents both a contemporary look at a composer’s recent activities as well as more comprehensive questions about the nature of video game music composition.

About OverClocked ReMix

Founded in 1999, OverClocked ReMix is an organization dedicated to the appreciation, preservation, and interpretation of video game music. Its primary focus is www.ocremix.org, a website featuring hundreds of free fan arrangements, information on game music and composers, resources for aspiring artists, and a thriving community of video game music fans.

Links

Composer Spotlight #5: Akihiko Mori

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008

Eleven years ago, Akihiko Mori passed away from cancer. Even though his last work was in 1996, he to this day stands as one of my favorite VGM composers of all time.

Works featured in this post:

  • Gokinjo Bouken Tai (SNES)
  • Kidou Senshi Z Gundam: Away to the Newtype (SNES)
  • Mystic Ark (SNES)
  • Shien’s Revenge (SNES)
  • Wonder Project J: Mechanical Boy Pino (SNES)
  • Wonder Project J2: Josette of Corlo Forest (SNES)

full list of works

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Mori worked at a company called Mint, which did sound development for video games. Thus, in addition to composing for some games, he also adapted music for the SNES sound driver developed by Mint. Two such games, Bounty Sword and Lennus II: Fuuin no Shito (Lennus II: Apostles of the Seals, Japan-only sequel to Paladin’s Quest), were composed by veteran game and anime composer Kouhei Tanaka, and actually have rather decent orchestral soundtracks. The over fourteen minute staff roll from Lennus II is particularly impressive.

But I guess maybe I should go on with Mori’s own compositions?


“Land Exploration”
Kidou Senshi Z Gundam: Away to the Newtype (SNES)


“bon voyage! ~ Come On! To the Skies! Medley”
arranged from Wonder Project J2: Josette of Corlo Forest (N64)


“Mountain”
Gokinjo Bouken Tai (SNES)

I could devote an entire post just to Gokinjo Bouken Tai’s soundtrack, one of the very best the SNES has to offer, but I’ll limit myself to one more track. Mori’s battle themes stand out to me as some of the best done by any composer, with the normal battle theme from GBT leading them all with its jazz stylings and madcap energy.


“Battle”
Gokinjo Bouken Tai (SNES)


“Bad Dream”
Shien’s Revenge (SNES)
co-composed with Tsukushi Sasaki

Overall, Mori’s battle theme work shines brightest in Mystic Ark, the Japan-only sequel to The 7th Saga. Mystic Ark is one of three games Mori composed to receive a soundtrack release, but unfortunately the album is marred by a defect, a hiss in the left channel audio.


“Hey! Don’t Attack Me!”
Mystic Ark (SNES)


“Your Fighting Eyes Are Always Beautiful”
Mystic Ark (SNES)


“Are You the True Form of Darkness?”
Mystic Ark (SNES)

I suppose it’s rather cliché to leave the ending themes for last, but this is a post in memory of one of my all-time favorites, so I’m going to get as sappy as I want to.


“Ending”
Shien’s Revenge (SNES)
co-composed with Tsukushi Sasaki


“Ending”
Wonder Project J: Mechanical Boy Pino (SNES)

Rockstar Games and Future Green Entertainment announce Grand Theft Auto IV: Liberty City Invasion soundtrack

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

Rockstar Games and Future Green Entertainment have announced the release of an original production album from The Evil Genius DJ Green Lantern featuring music from and inspired by Grand Theft Auto IV.

Containing eight brand new tracks crafted exclusively for DJ Green Lantern’s “Liberty City Invasion” radio show on the in-game radio station “The Beat,” as well as eight new songs directly inspired by Grand Theft Auto IV, The Evil Genius DJ Green Lantern has created an epic urban soundtrack. This special album release features an incredible lineup of hip-hop, reggae and R&B superstars including heavyweights Busta Rhymes, Wyclef, Fat Joe, Styles P and Fabolous as well as up-and-coming artists Mavado, Uncle Murder and Future Green Entertainment’s own Johnny Polygon, Qadir and more.

Singles include “Where’s My Money” from Busta Rhymes and “Nickname” from the brand new artist Qadir. The perfect summer anthem “I’m So Fly,” featuring Fat Joe and Fabolous is inspired by Grand Theft Auto IV and while included on the album is not in the game.

“The Grand Theft Auto games have always featured stunning soundtracks and the amount of eclectic music in Grand Theft Auto IV goes above and beyond anything we have been able to do before” said Sam Houser, Founder and Executive Producer of Rockstar Games, “DJ Green Lantern’s contributions give the soundtrack a true New York flavor and we’re excited to be releasing his full album to fans.”

Liberty City Invasion: Music From and Inspired by Grand Theft Auto IV cover

“From making mixtapes, to being on the radio, to touring with the biggest artists on the planet, and then for the biggest video game title to solicit me to create exclusive music is something most people could only dream about, it’s like a graduation,” said Green. “Rockstar Games understood what I bring to the table as far as not just presenting music, but creating music.”

Green Lantern originally came to prominence in the mixtape scene by consistently featuring exclusive self-produced music with hip-hop superstars like Eminem, Jay-Z, The Beastie Boys, Mike Shinoda’s Fort Minor, D-Block, Busta Rhymes, Mobb Deep and many more. This led to an acclaimed career as a proper music producer in his own right which has yielded such Billboard hits as “Number One Spot” by Ludacris and “In The Ghetto” by Busta Rhymes featuring Rick James as well as the street hits Akon “Ghetto” feat. Notorious B.I.G. and 2Pac, Uncle Murda’s “Bullet, Bullet,” and many more. Green Lantern can be heard every week nationally on his Sirius Satellite Radio show.

The Evil Genius Green Lantern makes his official production album debut with the release of Liberty City Invasion: Music From and Inspired by Grand Theft Auto IV. It will be available at all major digital retailers on May 20th with a physical release coming soon.

Grand Theft Auto IV is currently available for the Xbox 360 and the PLAYSTATION 3.

The Bad Dudes announce No Balls, No Glory, a remix project based on Technos’ Super Dodge Ball

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008
THE BAD DUDES ANNOUNCE NO BALLS, NO GLORY, A REMIX PROJECT BASED ON TECHNOS’ SUPER DODGE BALL
Album Used In Promotion With Aksys Games’ Upcoming Nintendo DS Title Super Dodgeball Brawlers

The Bad Dudes, a group of the internet’s best video game music remixers, announces the upcoming release of their latest project: No Balls, No Glory. This internet EP, based on Kazuo Sawa’s music from the 1989 Nintendo Entertainment System video game Super Dodge Ball, contains sixteen unique arrangements spanning various musical styles, with a focus on ethnic arrangements from each dodge ball team’s country of origin.

This collection of music will be used by video game software developer Aksys Games in promotion of Super Dodgeball Brawlers, a Nintendo DS title based on the classic Super Dodge Ball Nintendo game. This upcoming release takes the classic game play of the original and adds new attacks, multiplayer gaming, and a host of other upgrades, and will be released on May 27th, 2008 for a MSRP of $29.99.

No Balls, No Glory project producer Mustin said, “I’m excited about releasing this project in conjunction with Aksys games and their Brawlers release.  I hope the music pays suitable tribute to the Super Dodge Ball video game we all played as kids.”

About No Balls, No Glory
This is the third internet-release EP by The Bad Dudes, a multinational group of musicians that releases covers of video game music. This album was produced by Mustin of MustinProductions.com. No Balls, No Glory is available for download at NoBallsNoGlory.net.

About Aksys Games
Based in Torrance, California, Aksys Games is a third party licensee of Nintendo of America. More information on Aksys Games can be found online at aksysgames.com.

Sephfire presents “Narrative Evolved: Video Games and Storytelling”

Sunday, February 17th, 2008

Daniel “Sephfire” Floyd has given the OC ReMix community a sneak peek at a great presentation he’s put together for a class at Savannah College of Art and Design entitled “Narrative Evolved: Video Games and Storytelling.”

Done in the always excellent style of Zero Punctuation’s Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw, I was already laughing at the visuals a mere 30 seconds in. Once we got into the meat of things, Floyd then went into his observations on why well-done storytelling in games is so rare compared to the motion picture industry, hitting on some pretty salient points. It’s excellent fodder for debate.

While Dan has seen some great criticisms on what could be improved thanks to the OCR community, the video presentation is nonetheless very solid and entertaining.

Got 10 minutes? Commit!

Frank Klepacki’s “Universe at War OST” released for free by Petroglyph Games

Friday, December 28th, 2007

Petroglyph Games recently handed out a free digital release of Frank Klepacki’s Universe at War OST. The soundtrack is definitely a welcome treat this time of year, with 3 discs worth of material clocking in at over 2 hours. At the risk of selling Klepacki short, which I hope I’m not, his work here is full of the militaristic rock and electronic themes you’re familiar with if you’re a fan, so be sure to check it out.

Universe at War OST

CNN.com celebrates Commodore 64’s 25th anniversary

Tuesday, December 11th, 2007

Following up on news of the C64 Orchestra’s first album, Run 10, CNN.com recently spotlighted the Commodore 64 as part of the computer’s 25th anniversary. Andreas Wallström of C64.com (and featured in Makke’s Artura arrangement “Dublin Delight“), was interviewed on the legacy of the computer along with Harry McCracken of PC Gamer and Rob Kramer of productiehuis Oost-Nederland.

In the story’s information on the C64 Orchestra, CNN also noted the planned US release of Run 10 as January 15, underscoring the C64 popularity not just in gaming and emulation but music as well. The story also features brief video of the C64 Orchestra performing live, as well as over 20 user-contributed photos, a part of CNN’s I-Report.

Commodore 64 keyboard

DreamAuthentics announces arcade cabinet giveaway at all Video Games Live™ concerts through 2008

Wednesday, November 7th, 2007

Two industry leaders in the video game industry team up to give lucky fans the chance to win a customized DreamAuthentics Katana Arcade Cabinet

(INDIANAPOLIS, IN — November 1, 2007) - DreamAuthentics, manufacturer of the official video arcade cabinet of the Video Games Live concert series, will give one lucky gamer at each show in North America the chance to win the newest custom-built personal cabinet—the Katana. Video Games Live™ is an immersive concert experience that features music from the biggest video games of all time, performed by the world’s most respected orchestras and choirs. The contest will kick off with the Los Angeles concert on October 19 at the Nokia Theatre.

“We are excited to give a Video Games Live fan the chance to win the most authentic, customized video arcade experience available,” said Rick Barretto, President and CEO of DreamAuthentics. “The winner will get to enjoy the newest addition to our lineup of arcade cabinets, the tabletop-sized Katana, valued at $2,495. It offers the ultimate in home entertainment, with over 200 video games and our customized jukebox feature.”

One Video Games Live attendee will be selected at random to play Space Invaders™ on stage during each show. If he or she can clear the entire first level of Space Invaders in two minutes, the attendee will take home DreamAuthentics’ Katana complete with Video Games Live custom artwork.

The Katana is fully integrated and ready to play with a custom PC-based game engine, a 17 or 19 inch flat screen display, over 200 licensed classic arcade games, and a two-speaker arcade audio system with subwoofer and exclusive jukebox features. The Katana’s custom computer platform can play any PC based video game, from favorite arcade classics to latest PC game titles. Users can also watch DVDs, listen to MP3s, surf the Internet, or hook up their XBOX®, PlayStation® or Wii™.

“The Katana contest with DreamAuthentics is very exciting for us and our audiences,” said Video Games Live™ co-creator and executive producer Tommy Tallarico. “The opportunity to play classic arcade games at home is a dream come true for any video game enthusiast.”

Video Games Live™ is a complete celebration of the video game industry which includes pre- and post-show festival activities such as costume contests, playable game demos, game competitions and meet-and-greets with game designers and composers. Video Games Live™ bridges a gap for entertainment by exposing new generations of music lovers and fans to a symphonic orchestral experience while also providing a completely new and unique experience for families and/or non-gamers. Video Games Live is the power and emotion of a symphony orchestra mixed with the excitement and energy of a rock concert and the technology and interactivity of a video game - all completely synchronized to amazing cutting-edge video screen visuals, state-of-the-art lighting and special on-stage interactive segments with the audience.

For additional information about DreamAuthentics visit www.DreamAuthentics.com or call 800.789.8424. To learn more about Video Games Live, visit www.videogameslive.com or for information about current tour dates around the word visit http://www.videogameslive.com/index.php?s=dates.

About DreamAuthentics
DreamAuthentics is the leading manufacturer of custom built Personal Video Arcade cabinets that play both classic and modern video games. Game cabinets come with a built-in PC and can be fully customized with steel and lighted joysticks, custom graphics and advanced gaming options. DreamAuthentics arcade cabinets are available for purchase online at www.dreamauthentics.com.

About Video Games Live™
Created by two industry leading video game composers Tommy Tallarico and Jack Wall, Video Games Live™ (produced under their company Mystical Stone Entertainment, LLC) is the frontrunner in the field of live video game music performance. Video Games Live™ is an immersive concert event celebration featuring music from the biggest video games of all time. To purchase tickets visit www.videogameslive.com.

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Music 4 Games interviews Call of Duty 4 composer Stephen Barton

Saturday, November 3rd, 2007

Just a quick one today plugging M4G’s latest interview with Stephen Barton. The Harry Gregson-Williams protégé discussed his recent assignment for Activision’s Call of Duty 4 (available this coming Tuesday), stepping in for the very busy Gregson-Williams and securing a unique opportunity to score a video game.

Call of Duty 4 chopper

Barton spoke on the criticism of video games as an art form, the ease and support of working with Call of Duty 4 developers Infinity Ward, the approach of the soundtrack relative to the game’s modern setting, and most importantly (for you music-making fetishists with pro aspirations) his comprehensive studio setup. That last one’s over my head, but that certainly didn’t detract from the interview being an excellent read.

Super Mario Galaxy to feature 28 live orchestrated tracks

Friday, October 19th, 2007

Super Mario Galaxy, due out for the Wii on November 12 in the United States of America, is the next console installment in the main Mario series, following up 2002’s Super Mario Sunshine for the GameCube and 2006’s New Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo DS.

Nintendo has published a series of articles on its Japanese Wii site entitled “The President Asks ‘Super Mario Galaxy,’” in which Nintendo president Satoru Iwata talks with different staff members working on SMG about the game, development, etc. Volume 1, “Producer/Director Volume,” featured designers Takao Shimizu and Yoshiaki Koizumi, and the second, “Development Staff Volume,” featured several members of the development staff, like Futoshi Shirai, map director for Super Mario Sunshine. Volume 3, “Sound Staff Volume,” is a chat with Koji Kondo, the legendary Nintendo composer who’s created many of Nintendo’s signature songs in the Mario and Legend of Zelda series; Mahito Yokota, who composed the music to Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat and orchestrated the teaser music of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, and Masafumi Kawamura, who’s worked on sound effects and sound effect programming for several Nintendo games, like The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventure and Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat.

Super Mario Galaxy - Thwomp

All the interviews are in Japanese, so you won’t get too much out of them unless you know the moonspeak or enjoy gripping translations like “Now, which is headquartered in Kyoto in return, the MARIOGYARAKUSHI sound, responsible, staff are encouraged to talk to inquire.”

So what’s the biggest thing to take away from Volume 3?

Live orchestra.

28 songs on the soundtrack were performed by a live orchestra and recorded for use in the game. The interview contains two videos featuring music from the game: a video inside a recording studio of the orchestra performing (possibly the game’s main theme) and another featuring just a still image and the theme of “Egg Planet.” Check ‘em out; the songs aren’t half bad.

Other things of note:

  • The game will have more musical tracks than those, but the additional pieces will not feature the orchestra and instead be synthesized.
  • Kondo composed four of the tracks for the game, but his role was mainly as an advisor. Yokota composed the others.
  • Maybe I should’ve learned Japanese after all so I could read more of this garbage.

Some people on the world wide internet weren’t pleased that Nintendo decided to forgo a live orchestra for Twilight Princess in favor of almost entirely synthesized music, but they’re taking a big step with Super Mario Galaxy. Hopefully the rest of the music will turn out as good as these two samples.

The Wingless defends Electronic Arts’ acquisition of Pandemic Studios

Friday, October 12th, 2007

After last week’s revelation of Bungie buying itself back out from Microsoft and going independent, gamers high on the news of studios “loosening themselves from the handcuffs of monolithic corporations” were summarily deflated to hear yesterday’s announcement of Electronic Arts being poised to acquire both Pandemic Studios and BioWare in a deal potentially totalling US$825-860 million.

EA button logo

The hate some gamers have for EA is all too real. It’s so real, we at OverClocked ReMix were able to center our 2005 April Fool’s Day joke on it with EA ReMix, not only pretending we were bought out that day, but later claiming that EA’s legal representation had sent up a cease-and-desist letter, successfully fooling many of the people who were wise to the original joke. People were cursing EA up and down for being that evil, accepting EA’s killjoy threat of litigation as genuine without a second thought. For whatever reasons, that large logo above (we love pushing buttons) makes some people assume the worst.

As a gamer haven, it’s no surprise that OC ReMix has its own forum-goers lamenting the Pandemic/BioWare buyout. But recent Pandemic hire and senior user interface designer John “The Wingless” Burnett had his own words on the matter from the inside, defending the positives of the deal and putting much of the gamer hatred for EA into perspective:

As part of the EA deal, I’ll give you my two cents.

You know what bothers me MOST about the deal? That nobody fucking CARES that we’re (Pandemic) are even involved in the deal. Nothing crushes morale when you’re part of a $800+ million dollar deal (the biggest in industry history) and you are less than a footnote in the great shitstorm of internet reprisal.

Regardless, all of you going, oooh woe betide my beloved Mass Effect that isn’t even out. What are you upset about? Seriously, what is terrorizing you so much? That EA will somehow befoul it? How? They bought the company(s) because they are doing well by themselves. EA is in it to make money, and this particular regime of EA rule knows that you leave well enough alone, especially when it’s generating revenue. The only time they’ll step in is when we, the game developer, fail to deliver.

In essence, we get more money, more backing, probably the biggest marketing powerhouse in the industry and a lot more press.

And for those of you horrified by sequelitis… seriously, why the fuck do you care?

Three years in the industry have no made me loathe everyone who ISN’T in the industry. It’s a hell of a thing.

Saboteur

Will EA sabotage Saboteur? (Note, we at VG Frequency are clearly an exception to The Wingless’s loathing.)

Obviously, it remains to be seen what effects and/or potential reshufflings will ultimately result from the buyout. Yet it’s important to note that what some gamers conclude to be a tragedy, some employees on the creation side believe to be…an opportunity.

Of course, even employees have mixed feelings. As The Wingless said later in the day…

Now… if you ask me whether or not the EA acquisition is good in the short or the long term… you will get some wildly different answers from me…

…ellipses

Music 4 Games interviews Kenji Yamamoto and Retro Studios’ sound team

Saturday, October 6th, 2007

Jayson Napolitano of Music 4 Games posted an interview yesterday with Nintendo composer Kenji Yamamoto and the Retro Studios sound team regarding the sound of Retro’s latest game and Yamamoto’s latest work, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (co-composed with Minako Hamano and Masaru Tajima). It’s a rather nice read, detailing the technical, creative, and organizational processes that went into making the sound and music of Samus’s latest adventure:

Metroid Prime 3 password

As for the music for Metroid Prime 3, we knew we wanted to move in a more orchestral direction, but one that still maintained the game-y and synthetic nature of the previous Prime soundtracks. I sat down and identified some reference game and movie soundtracks and progressive electronic music to present to Yamamoto-san as possible style guides and references. Soon after I compiled my references, we found out that Yamamoto-san was coming to the states and was interested in visiting Retro Studios himself. This allowed me to present to him my musical references and style guide in person and for us to have a face to face dialog. He was very easy to work with and really understood our desired aesthetic. The cool thing was that after we got our musical direction discussion out of the way, we were able to geek out and exchange ideas about audio tools, music in general and even have a quick jam session. It was truly an honor that I got to play drums behind Yamamoto-san’s excellent guitar playing and our CEO Michael Kelbaugh’s kick ass bass playing.

Yamamoto also talks a little bit about his past work as well. Check out the full interview at http://www.music4games.net/Features_Display.aspx?id=174.

DarkMessenger wins big at Interface’s Sound Game Contest 2007

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

Niels “DarkMessenger” van der Leest announced via MySpace bulletin that he was notified of his victory in Dutch magazine Interface’s latest competition, Sound Game Contest 2007 [note: in Dutch], with his entry receiving The Public’s Choice award garnering an impressive 46.4% of the votes.

Ghost Recon 2 explosion

Niels, along with other entrants, worked to rescore the cutscene “Ghost Story” from the 2004 Xbox release Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon 2, developed by Red Storm Entertainment.

The competition was co-sponsored by Streamline Studios and QANTM College, with voting for The Public’s Choice being featured in the upcoming Interface issue #112. We’ll keep you posted if and when DarkMessenger’s winning effort goes public, and congratulations to Niels on his popular victory, which will hopefully provide him some of the spotlight.

Composer Spotlight #4: Atsuhiro Motoyama

Saturday, September 1st, 2007

Once upon a time, a very long time ago, there was a game company named Toaplan. They made quite a few games in the 80’s and early 90’s, like Snow Bros. - Nick & Tom and Zero Wing (known for the “All your base are belong to us meme). Most of the games they created were, like Zero Wing, shmups.

In 1994, Toaplan declared bankruptcy, but its employees went to form other companies, like CAVE, known for its flamingly difficult bullet hell shmups like those in the DonPachi and Mushihime-sama series. Another company formed from the remnants of Toaplan is 8ing/Raizing, which made shmups early on, but has recently focused on fighting games like the Naruto: Clash of Ninja and Bleach: Heat the Soul series.

Where am I going with this? Well, Atsuhiro Motoyama was one of 8ing/Raizing’s composers, and he’s the subject of this Composer Spotlight. Let’s dance.

Works featured in this post:

  • Digital Champ (TurboGrafx-16)
  • Dimahoo (Arcade)
  • Kururin Paradise (Game Boy Advance)
  • Maruan Series 1: Umihara Kawase Shun ~Second Edition~ (PlayStation)
  • Sorcer Striker (Arcade)

full list of works

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Motoyama’s music can be very roughly partitioned into two groups, corresponding to the two different types of games he’s worked on. The first is the “laid-back” style, the tracks of which are generally slower and more melody- or groove-oriented.

Kururin Paradise


“Flower Land 3″
Kururin Paradise (Game Boy Advance)


“BGM 2″
Maruan Series 1: Umihara Kawase Shun ~Second Edition~ (PlayStation)
co-composed with Shinji Tachikawa

The “laid-back” style generally corresponds to the games that are more, well, laid-back. Games like Ganbare! Golf Boys and those in the Kururin and Umihara Kawase series are all generally easy-going, and so have easy-going soundtracks to match. Even though I say that all these soundtracks fall into one style, as shown by the samples above, the actual pieces of music can sound quite different. The songs of Umihara Kawase and Maruan Series 1: Umihara Kawase Shun ~Second Edition~ is all very light like the sample above, while those of Kuru Kuru Kururin and Kururin Paradise are more varied, ranging from bouncy, happy songs to darker ones like the sample.

Then again, games from which you’d expect more upbeat or driving tracks also fall into this style. Motoyama’s tracks in Beastorizer, a fighting game perhaps more familiarly known as Bloody Roar in its PlayStation port and subsequent sequels, are also not high octane pumpfests, but more grooving, albeit with some majestic flares. And Digital Champ, a boxing game, has an exceptionally mellow and groovy soundtrack.

Digital Champ in-game


Track 5
Digital Champ (TurboGrafx-16)

And the other style, in contrast to “laid-back,” is, well, not laid back. The tracks, while not necessarily faster, tend to be more tense, more driving, and so on. The other commonality these soundtracks have is that they all belong to shmups developed by 8ing/Raizing.


“SORCER STRIKER (Stage 1 BGM)”
Sorcer Striker (Arcade)


“THUNDER STORM ~ Stage 5″
Dimahoo (Arcade)
co-composed with Ken-ichi Koyano

Despite shmups only comprising a third of Motoyama’s total game output, of the five soundtracks of his that have had album releases, three belong to shmups. His music on CDs doesn’t adequately show his full range of music, so my secondary motive behind this spotlight was to show off some of his other material.

EA freely releases Command & Conquer to celebrate game’s 12th anniversary

Friday, August 31st, 2007

Thanks to OC ReMixer Gecko Yamori for pointing it out on the OC ReMix boards, as Electronic Arts, the owners of Westwood Studios, are celebrating today’s 12th anniversary of the original Command & Conquer by freely releasing the game!

Command & Conquer 12th Anniversary

As evidenced by the instructions provided by EA, one does have to jump through several hoops to get the game compatible with today’s versions of Windows. Nonetheless, the classic status enjoyed by C&C will no doubt bring in a lot of fans both new and old into the fold via this very welcome free rollout. With the advent of Wii’s Virtual Console and Xbox LIVE Arcade, EA’s realized the value in redistributing the first game of the C&C franchise, which was certainly smart thinking, thinking that I’m sure the company believes will help move the subsequent parts of the series off the shelves and into your homes.

On a tangent, one thing I enjoyed a lot about Scott Peeples 2001 Command & Conquer ReMix “On the Prowl Redux” was how the arrangement, while posessing its own personalized style, managed to retain the feel of Frank Klepacki’s already impressive score, sounding like a natural fit for the actual in-game soundtrack.

As the name of the game around here at VG Frequency implies, I’m always a fan of the music of games in particular. Klepacki’s first Command & Conquer soundtrack set a great standard for real-time military strategy games, providing music that’s functions well in the background yet holds up greatly upon active listening, driving along the action and overall mood of the game. Even on just that level, the now freely-available C&C is easily worth the pickup.

2K Games releases 12 orchestral tracks from BioShock for free

Saturday, August 25th, 2007

BioShock is an first-person shooter just released on the 21st on this month by 2K Games. It is a spiritual successor to System Shock 2, another FPS that was developed by Irrational Games, which was acquired by 2K Games in 2006. The game is generally regarded as being pretty cool stuff.

A limited edition of the game was released with a figurine, making-of DVD, and CD. The CD was originally supposed to be a soundtrack of the game, but instead contained three remixes of classic songs from the time period the game is supposed to take place in (and which appear in-game), arranged by Moby and Oscar the Punk: “Beyond the Sea” by Bobby Darin, “God Bless the Child” by Billie Holiday, and “Wild Little Sisters” by Brian Lovely and Paul Patterson.

However, 2K Games has just released twelve orchestral pieces from the soundtrack of the game, composed by Garry Schyman. While it’s not a complete score, the twelve tracks still give you a taste of the creepy atmosphere of BioShock. You can download the music from 2K’s “The Cult of RaptureBioShock community site, or directly download it from their site.

The Wingless makes the move to Pandemic Studios

Thursday, August 23rd, 2007

We don’t have enough eccentrics in the game arrangement community, but truth be told John “The Wingless” Burnett could fill in for 10 of them. He’s his own improv troupe, although why he isn’t in The Second City is beyond me (he’s auditioned with them before).

Continuing in the vein of yesterday’s blog regarding Mazedude, it’s good to see individuals take their hobbies and successfully run with them into the professional world. Having already made his way into the gaming industry, The Wingless recently posted of an employment change via Facebook and MySpace, announcing a move from Chicago’s Midway Games as a user interface artist to Los Angeles’s Pandemic Studios as a senior user interface artist this past Monday.

So those of you in the know already caught wind of this, so if this is shocking news to you, please do not think ill of me for not telling you. Either there was no good way to tell (which happens) or I just flat-out don’t like you (which, while implausible, most certainly is possible).I accepted a job with Pandemic Studios in L.A.

So I’ll be moving out to Cali (Westwood, to be specific) by probably the 10th of September to start my new life between Santa Monica Beach and Hollywood. My last day at Midway Games will be August 31st, the very last trembling drop of Summer.

But in the meantime, I’ll be around for at least 3 weeks and I would *love* to spend as much of my time with all of you as possible. Send me a line if you’d like to do something, and I will try my best to be with you. Also, if you’ve had a crush on me, but were bereft of a charming way to ask me out, now’s as good a time as any :)

In any event, I will miss you all very much. Believe it or not, the hesitation to move was based largely on all the resplendent personalities I have met. I adore everything about you.

All my love and all my luck. I have more than enough to spare.

With the move, John’s now in the hub of American video game development. If you’ve followed his website over the years, through its many core design changes and plethora of side projects, his design skills are already mutil-faceted. Will he eventually make the transition to sound design or music composition? Well, he’s already got some mutual acquaintances with VGM professionals based in the area through friendships with members of OneUp Studios, so the future looks bright no matter what the angle is. We definitely wish The Wingless the best of luck as he valiantly attempts to trim the wings off of the City of Angels.

Fast Talk: Gamer Controls Music 2.0

Tuesday, August 21st, 2007

Andrew “zircon” Aversa is a long-time colleague of mine on the OCR Judges Panel, and has a remarkable business sense about him. He’s always trying to learn everything he can not just about the creation side of music, but the fiscal side as well. Currently attending Philadelphia’s Drexel University, he’s in a great place to soak up knowledge, and always passes along cool information he picks up along the way.

Via the July issue of Fast Company (#117), Andy clued me into something regarding Electronic Arts that I read about a year or so ago in the conception phase having recently resurfaced. The article by Cora Daniels features EA Worldwide Executive of Music and Marketing Steve Schnur discussing his plans for a record label inspired by video game music.

Well, not in the traditional sense of releasing original or arranged soundtracks. But with the Artwerk label (a cooperative venture with Nettwerk), Schnur feels that the exposure from popular EA franchise games like Madden NFL and NBA Street have the potential to launch breakout bands with original albums after clinching fan interest via the game soundtracks. So far, the label’s first big signing in Tom “Junkie XL” Holkenborg this past March looks nothing but good. With such a conservative approach by Schnur and EA purposefully not aiming to create a big label, however, do you think a format like this could fully achieve its stated goals?

Live VGM #1: S.S.T. Band

Monday, August 6th, 2007

You may have heard of The Black Mages. Formed in 2003 with, among other people, three Square Enix composers (including Nobuo Uematsu), TBM is the closest thing Square Enix has to an official band. Other game companies (especially during the 90’s) have had bands featuring one or more in-house composer, like Konami’s Kukeiha Club and Taito’s Zuntata, but TBM is probably the most prominent modern example.

Live performances of VGM have been not necessarily commonplace in Japan, but certainly more frequent than in the United States and elsewhere. However, in the past few years, there have been an increasing number of video game concerts like PLAY! A Video Game Symphony and Video Games Live. So, I figured it might be kind of cool to look at other, earlier VGM performances, including those by in-house bands and those like VGL. I mentioned the S.S.T. Band in “Composer Spotlight #3: Koichi Namiki,” so that’s as good a place to start as any.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

The S.S.T. Band was one of the first, possibly the first, official developer band, starting way back in 1988. “S.S.T.” stood for “Sega Sound Team,” befitting the fact that, of the six original members, three were Sega composers (Hiroshi Miyauchi, Jouji Iijima, and Koichi Namiki). A fourth member, Kimitaka Matsumae, would later become a Sega composer, as well as would two future band members who were not part of the original lineup, Hisanori Kumamaru and Takenobu Mitsuyoshi.

I was going to make an info file about the S.S.T. Band’s members, discography, etc., but their Wikipedia article is very thorough, probably more thorough than anything I would have written, so I’ll pimp that out instead. The only full arrangement albums are MEGA SELECTION I & II and BACK IN THE S.S.T. BAND!!; all of the others contain both arrangements by the S.S.T. Band and original soundtracks.

An interesting thing to note is that every single S.S.T. Band member had a stage name, most of which were taken from Sega arcade games:

Jouji Iijima: GALAXY (Galaxy Force)
Shingo Komori: BURNER (After Burner)
Hisanori Kumamaru: SPLASH Wave (”Splash Wave” is the name of a track from OutRun)
Kimitaka Matsumae: HARRIER (Space Harrier)
Takenobu Mitsuyoshi: R360 (refers to the R360 arcade cabinet)
Hiroshi Miyauchi: Hiro
Koichi Namiki: Mickey or Pretty K.N.
Masato Saito: TURBO-kun (Turbo OutRun)
Takehiko Tanabe: THUNDER (Thunder Blade)

But the best part of the S.S.T. Band, even moreso than their rockin’ arrangements, is their appearance. Remember when sleeveless vests, ponytails, bandannas, and sunglasses used to be cool on musicians?

“After Burner” (arrangement of the track of the same name from the game of the same name)
video from the S.S.T. Band Live! DVD (1990 concert)
Jouji “GALAXY” Iijima: Guitar (red)
Kimitaka “HARRIER” Matsumae: Keyboards (right)
Hiroshi “Hiro” Miyauchi: Keyboards (left)
Koichi “Mickey” Namiki: Guitar (yellow)
Masato “TURBO-kun” Saito: Bass
Takehiko “THUNDER” Tanabe: Drums

The band’s arrangements always stayed close to the original, usually being covers with the occasional solo thrown in to retain the feel of the originals, all of which were from Sega arcade, Master System, or Genesis games. Since the band’s instruments were guitars, keyboard, and drums, they usually picked upbeat songs that could easily be converted to synthrock, like the title theme from After Burner seen above. However, as the material dictated, they were not above slower, jazzier pieces like their medley of Galaxy Force tracks and ballads like their cover of “Last Wave,” the high scores theme from OutRun.

Other videos from their 1990 concert on YouTube are “Magical Sound Shower” from OutRun and an After Burner medley featuring other tracks from the game other than the title track. One last video, from no concert I can identify, is a cover of “Like the Wind” from Power Drift. Soak up the retro.

Cave Story creator releases simple shoot ‘em up, Guxt

Monday, August 6th, 2007

I’m ironically not much of a gamer, so anything having to do with actual game releases I’m bound to be slow on. DarkeSword recently made mention that Cave Story creator Daisuke “Pixel” Amaya released a new, even simpler free homebrew shmup called Guxt. (Have Japanese characters installed on your comp, please.) With Cave Story under his belt, Pixel’s already got the buzz needed to give any new project of his a good deal of attention in the gaming community, and February’s release of his most recent game has already got people talking.

I make mention of Guxt, because Pixel is not only a programmer, but a composer as well. With his one man Studio Pixel team, Amaya does it all, including the actual game music. For Guxt, that includes a standalone player program that features all 8 tracks from the soundtrack. It’s classic-style VG muzak, just the way you like it: small size, tons of hooks, and very appropriate for the game setting. The Boss theme in particular is excellent.

Makes me wonder who in the community’s gonna have the first well-made rearrangement from the game under their belt…

Activision Reports Sluggish Sales For Sousaphone Hero

Saturday, August 4th, 2007

God bless ya, The Onion. Washington, DC is the paper’s ninth print edition market, and I love picking it up every week. The cutting edge of reporting.

And this? The cutting edge of video game music. The game’s not a hot seller, I’m afraid.

Half-Life: Black Mesa developers on Cockbite Radio

Saturday, July 28th, 2007

Uh…Cockbite Radio.

But yes, the developers of the upcoming Half-Life 2 mod Black Mesa were on episode 5 of Cockbite Radio (there’s that name again) this past Wednesday to discuss all things Black Mesa and how they’re remaking the first Half-Life from the ground up. OC ReMixer Kevin “Lorenzo” Sisk, one of the voice actors of the game, intros the podcast. (Check for him also at the 11-minute and 53-minute marks as well.)

Kevin adds: “That screenshot [below], other than the surface tension dam, is a prime example of how the team is trying to bring the original game up to date with today’s graphic standards, while preserving the game’s spirit.” Definitely give it that look.

Also of note for this podcast, 30 seconds in has a hilarious rant from Casey about 12-year-old boys on Xbox Live. Creepy, immature boys on the internet? Never.

bustatunez scores Hellgate: London trailer, revealed at E3

Monday, July 23rd, 2007

I had the pleasure of finally meeting Wilbert “bustatunez” Roget, II at the Video Games Live OCR meetup in Washington, DC. But we actually used to both reside in New Haven, CT, my hometown, and where Will attended Yale University for his music degree (man, how my life would have been different had I gone there). We tried meeting up during Will’s last few months there before he graduated but couldn’t work out our schedules, so it was excellent finally getting to shake his hand and shooting the shit with him.

At the VGL DC meetup, Will was only at liberty to say that he has just scored the trailer for an upcoming game and that the trailer was set to debut at E3. Besides being excited for the opportunity, he wouldn’t tell us anything more, not even what genre the game even was. So just to let Flagship Studios know, he held VERY tightly to his NDA!

But with E3 now in the past, Flagship Studios (spun off from Blizzard North and responsible for the Diablo franchise) recently took the Hellgate: London trailer public. GameSpot has a great-quality version of the trailer to check out.

Now, I’m not about to praise the trailer merely to pay lip service to Flagship and suck up on behalf of anyone. Anyone familiar enough with the business of games knows that there are (unfortunately) a lot of games with great soundtracks that end up having awful “everything else”. But this trailer looked REALLY polished. It may be for a game, but Hellgate: London has what looks like a straight up movie trailer.

There’s no guarantee Will will be involved with the actual game soundtrack itself, but hitting paydirt with the release of this trailer is a potentially great sign of things to come for a young, talented composer like bustatunez. Be sure to give the trailer a look and send some congratulations Will’s way for one of his first professional gigs, as I hope it’s the start of a fruitful career in video game music.