Thursday, July 18, 2013

Collins Audio Supplement 2-2: Early PC Game Audio

This has been forever in the making...  If it takes you a long time to digest... well, it took me almost a month to work through it all and hear all this music/watch the gameplay.  Enjoy!

This series is continuing my audio journey through the games that are highlighted in Karen Collins game sound.  This entry corresponds with the end of the second chapter of the book, which is about the early PC gaming audio history.  I have to say, I've not played a single one of these games, so very cool for me to encounter them beyond a sentence in a book.  Probably that's due to the ten year age difference between myself and Karen Collins.  That's how quickly games come and go!  Now old games are being ported over to modern systems, so maybe there'll be a time when they can be played again, but there was a long while where it was difficult (if not impossible) to play some of theses old games or watch their gameplay as I'm doing in these cases.

Overall, I'm extremely impressed with the detail in them!  One advantage these old games have (in terms of education) is that they're a lot of reading.  I'm not sure the subject material here is appropriate-- or aimed at-- young players, but regardless, the games have a lot of witty writing and really present some fun scenarios.  Musically, this genre particularly reminds me of Looney Tunes cartoons with some references to old standard music (Chicken Reel is in Police Quest) as well as just blatant, ease to understand musical references.

Ulysses and the Golden Fleece-- no music beyond a beeping sound for dialogue progression and upon seeing different locations in your travels.

Mystery House-- no sound?

The Dark Crystal-- couldn't find gameplay footage of this game.  If you know of a link, let me know.

Space Quest-- Only melodic intro to the story.  Credits mention who did the graphics, but not the sound!  Sound effects.  Music in the bar, different tunes at different points.  Lots of sound effects for the casino slot gameplay.  And the same melody at the end of the game as the beginning.

Police Quest-- starts with the "Dragnet theme" sound-a-like (or at moments, literally the exact theme)  Music is mentioned in the credits at the beginning of the game by Margaret Lowe.  Two homorhythmic melodic voices and bass, plus a noise channel.  Similar to NES.  Various sound effects seem very similar to the other games.  Phone ringing is one of the best sound effects.  Enjoyed the music in the strip club.  Sounds for driving the police car around and unrealistic effects for opening and closing the doors constantly.  More sounds than the other games on the list so far.  Striking: Polyphony.  When you find the chicken in the police office, the game plays Daly's "Chicken Reel," which I know from Looney Tunes cartoons.  Birthday song in The Blue Room-- isn't it copyrighted?  Dramatic music for a shootout.  Music for Precious in Jail.  Bullets breaking glass.  Music for the ticker tape parade at the end of the game.  Here's a link to some of the Police Quest music.  Margaret Lowe-- more information needs to be recorded about her.  I can't find any sort of interview with her.  Why do online listings give Rob Atesalp as the composer for the game?  Who can help to sort out more information about this music?

King's Quest-- first "3D" graphic adventure game.  Uses Greensleeves and Do Your Ears Hang Low as well as white noise and a few other sound effects.  Mainly silent gameplay.  No ending music!

Leisure Suit Larry--  Music by Al Lowe-- beginning of the credits.  This is the first of these games where I've seen the composer credited.  How Dry I Am (The Near Future- Irving Berlin) plays when you trade the whiskey to the drunk guy for the remote control.  99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall plays when the drunk shows up outside the Quikimart.  Interesting music for the disco dance floor.  The Quikiwed chapel plays Aura Lee-- though probably a reference to the Love Me Tender (Elvis).  Uses Sousa's Star and Stripes for the fireworks at the end of the game.  No mention of these cover songs.  I really quite like this game and the audio for it.  Certainly not a kids game, though!

Short Circuit-- not able to find much here.  Collins notes the simplification and adjustment of sound between the movie version and the C64 version.

Times of Lore-- couldn't find a playthrough C64 version playthrough without talking over it, but I was able to find videos of music from the game.  The 5th of these tunes sounds familiar to me...

Rock Star Ate My Hamster-- Allistar Brimble.  Has a bluesy feel for the opening theme.  Interesting game where the gameplay is about the workings of the music industry.  Haven't heard of this game or seen anything like it before-- are there other games where the music business is a part of game play?  Collins is mentioning the game because when you "practice," the music is "chosen from a random combination of 16 sequences."  I have to remember to tell Vince about this when he's back in the country; he'll love that one of the playable singers for hire is a pseudo Kyle Minogue (Bimbo Baggins).

Lazy Jones-- How cool to make a video game about a character who plays video games?  Kind of like a Truman Show sort of video game.  One of the first games I've encountered to give a sound for footsteps.  The music is interesting here, most notably because it has such seamless transitions from one section to another.  Instead of making hard cuts with sound effects in between (imagine going down a pipe in SMB to the underground theme), the music here finishes playing the current music theme before transitioning to the next theme.  Since it all has a similar pulse and sound, that's easy to do in this game.

Zak McKracken--  Collins mentions that this plays Chopin's Funeral March.  I couldn't find a playthrough with that, though presumably it would be on one where the player dies.  Watched an find an FM version playthrough, which could have different music.  I only really noticed two things: the Indiana Jones theme when you play the kazoo and the "Eastern" sounding music.  Here's the intro:

Wicked-- Arcade like sound effects that match the gameplay.  I heard the Bach C minor WTC Book I prelude reference, although it's not an exact duplicate, it's almost a sound-a-like track.

The Great Giana Sisters--  So close to Super Mario Bros that Nintendo sued to have it pulled from stores.  I can't decide if I think the music is quite a bit like SMB or not.  The graphics, even the sound effects are, but the music?  I'm not convinced the audio is a copycat...

Frantic Freddie-- the only two tunes I recognized initially from this gameplay video were the opening to Beethoven's 5th symphony and Scott Joplin's Maple Leaf Rag. Collins notes the following themes which appear in it: Paul Simon's Kodachrome, Queen's Crazy Little Thing Called Love, Electronic Light Orchestra's Don't Bring Me Down, and Sylver's Boogie Fever.  According to my internet search, a couple more of these numbers are also Joplin rags: The Easy Winners and The Pineapple Rag.  Whether the remaining game tunes are covers or original compositions, I don't know, but it'd be great to find out definite answers...

Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show-- uses many American folksongs.  Collins notes the Star Spangled Banner, Oh Susanna, Yankee Doodle, and Camptown Races.  I also heard the overture to Rossini's William Tell in this gameplay video.

Super Pipeline-- Collins notes the use of the Rozsa/Schumann Dragnet theme.  It is a warning  gameplay, but a YouTube comment pointed out that the title theme was Debussy's Golliwog's Cakewalk-- totally true, but I didn't even catch it when I was watching!  The wikipedia page notes the use of the Dance of the CuckoosPaganini's Caprice 24, and Sky's Tuba Smarties.  Covers were easier on the C64 because of its better audio capabilities.

Necromancer-- Devo's Some Things Never Change.  It seems that this was the theme song to Necromancer for the C64.  Here's a link to gameplay footage, although I think this tune got edited out of the gameplay in this case.

California Games'-- Louie Louie.  Finally found some gameplay with this title music attached!

Mayhem in Monsterland-- Collins writes about the short music loops similar to a Nintendo style.  Particularly she notes the longer overworld music and shorter four bar boss music as similar (perhaps to SMB?).  "Cheery," "poppy" sound effects.  I'm giving this a full listen as I get ready for bed tonight.  The graphics definitely have a similar feel to SMB!  The opening theme reminds me of the Tiny Toons Theme Song!  

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