Welcome back for another Lesser-known Video Game Soundtrack! Today, we’ll take look at the soundtrack to a game never before released in the US and composed by a legendary composer who likes the saxophone… maybe too much.
Author Archives: Classical Gaming
Lesser-known Video Game Soundtracks: Nobuo Serizawa’s Birdy Try (芹沢信雄のバーディトライ) (SFC)/Mecarobot Golf (SNES)
I haven’t done one of these in a while but I found something totally worthy, I promise. Let’s take a look at a soundtrack developed by a semi-famous game music composer for a game with either a Japanese pro-golfer or a robot. Same thing? YOU DECIDE.
Douglas Laustsen and I recently assembled and arranged the music for the game Sling-It! (Pollushot 2) by Greg Lobanov. For more information about the game, you can go here. I can tell you the mechanics are awesome and it’s super addicting. The music is nice too haha.
Anyhow, Greg had a very clear vision as to what he wanted for the game, music wise, so I asked him if I could sit down with him for an interview. We didn’t really “sit down” I guess…. this “interview” was conducted via email earlier this week (3/11). Enjoy!
GL: I love video game music. I listen to it almost exclusively these days, for better or worse. When I’m talking about “favorites” in video game music I’m rarely talking about an album or a composer, but rather, specific songs. I think that’s because individual pieces are tied so closely to particular game moments, and so when considering an entire soundtrack or an artist there’s always some specific shining stars in the lineup which stand out to me rather than seeing the entire soundtrack as a single unit. That’s not to say I don’t have my favorites. I’m just saying this preface the fact that my favorite game soundtracks are naturally the same as my favorite games.
My absolute favorite soundtracks are those of Earthbound and Zelda: Wind Waker. I don’t remember particular names associated with Earthbound, but I do know it has a lot of associated musicians, and its music is I think a particularly unique expression of many different artists coming together at a moment in time. Zelda, meanwhile, has Koji Kondo. Wind Waker’s best moments didn’t all come from him, but he’s an obvious individual whose music is consistently great whenever he makes it. If I had to name a favorite video game composer I think I’d have to default it to him. But really, favorites aside, I listen to a lot of different soundtracks and composers, almost indiscriminately.
Coming into the sequel, I’d seen how well classical music had worked, and wanted to use it again but this time without restricting myself to free online samples. The decision to focus on Russian/Soviet composers was the result of a few different factors: I have a big heritage in Russia, and I wanted to let some of that flavor into the game. I started to see my game as a sort of loose homage to Tetris, which also used Russian classical music to great effect (including a piece from Nutcracker). And most importantly, Russian composers are just plain great! The Russian theming really helped to inform the game back, too, and helped inspire the idea of an endless pollution-induced winter as is depicted in the game, the TV broadcast-style opening, and the main character’s design. Everything just fit together very nicely.
GL: I hope to work a lot this year and put out many more games in the coming months. As I was finishing Sling It! I already made a lot of progress into my next game. I haven’t formally announced it yet, but it will be called “Perfection.” and it’s a tranquil, simple puzzle game in which you cut shapes to fit into outlines.
For more information on Greg Lobanov and Dumb and Fat Games, you can check his website out here. Special thanks to Greg for responding to my questions so eloquently, Doug for putting up with the deadlines I kept altering on the work, and Sharon Torello from LocalArtsLive for helping Doug and me connect with Greg in the first place.
February’s 8static really got me inspired to assemble some originals to perform in the future. Naturally, as a newcomer to the chiptune scene, I need to see what the scene… well… is! I’ve been listening to everything and anything, trying to absorb every sound and style in the chiptune genre. There’s so much out there! I’m actually impressed with the overall quality I’m finding. Mostly, you can tell that people put an incredible amount of time and effort into each track. For a great example of quality and craftsmanship, I would check Chipocrite’s new album: 8bit Lebowski: 100% Electronic. And it’s not just this album- there’s tens of thousands of albums out there to explore. It’s really awesome.
Either way, performing as “Steve L” is only going to get me so far as it would appear that everyone has a stage name. I didn’t want to be presumptuous and assume it was okay to just make up a stage name, having very little experience and what not…. but I ended up doing so anyhow. I’ll be performing under “Ap0c” from here on out, as a homage to the Relic Scythe from Final Fantasy XI.
For the past month, I’ve been working on pieces for Beta Test Music as well. We will be performing our very first NYC show this weekend, in fact. Details here. It will feature 2 works for the band+20a3/VRC6 that I’ve arranged. Our drummer is busy this weekend… so I just whipped up some NES audio to go with Pokemon to cover for him. I’m also tweaking my arrangement of music from Castlevania III because I’ve learned SOOO MUCH about sound creation since the original performance that I feel like the work was a bit amateurish and could easily be fixed to make a lot more sense.
Anyhow, “Last Minute Research Paper” is supposed to invoke that feeling of a race to the finish. I imagine sitting down at 9 PM, attemping to finish a paper that is due at 8 AM the next morning. The music goes through ups and downs, progress and lack of progress, and should have a push and pull kind of feel. Ultimately, the paper is finished but at what cost? Too dramatic? Too bad.
Below you’ll find the live performance of this piece at 8static 33:
One thing instantly noticeable is my snares are kind of out of control at times. On my headphones, it didn’t sound nearly as crashy and crazy. It’s really just at the beginning. It would appear I dropped an “F” in Famitracker for the noise channel and forgot to remove it. You can hear it activate at around :11. I think it stays up at the volume for a while before receiving another command not to be so loud. Most of my volume controls are built into the instruments so it probably took a long time before I put another command in. Oh well. I need to remember to just put in “analog” controls more often. It will also help when I have a full rig so I can mix stuff more on the fly.
Anyhow, I hope you enjoyed it! I have some other cool things I’m working on too so I’ll put them up here when they are complete. It’s my Spring Break (yep, a perk of being a college professor) so I’m going to try to aim to clean up some half-completed posts, including Virus, Part 2 of Dr. Mario, and some other interesting Research in Game Music topics. Happy Monday!