Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Collins Audio Supplement 3-1: End of Arcades/Beginning of Home Consoles (Sega)

Here's the next part of the Collins supplement which corresponds to the beginning of Chapter 3.  As a reminder, I'm studying intensely through Karen Collins book, Game Sound, and am watching listening to (and watching) gameplay to all the examples she cites in the book.  If my earlier hypothesis was correct and the games listed in her book are primarily ones she was familiar with and played, then I now know that we played very different games.  Our ten year age difference, gender differences, and the fact that we had different consoles are probably all some of the reasons for this.  I, for instance, didn't have a Sega, and only played Sonic a few times at friends houses.  Neither did I know anything about the Commodore 64.  This project has been great at expanding my horizons into unknown game/ game sound!


I think I saw friends play this.  I definitely never did.  The arcade version I've linked to here has music that changes for each level, but the C64 version, like the Apple II original, only seems to have sound effects.  The game's sound effects are pretty noisy, so it's a little hard to heard the music in the mix.  Collins mentions this game because it was popular for longer than the average game.

Frogger was another game that was popular for longer than the average three month game lifespan, but I've already blogged about Frogger here, so I'm omitting it from this entry.

Space Harrier (1985)

This game, like the following two examples, is simply in a list of successful Sega arcade titles.  I don't think I've ever heard of it.  The main music has a sort of disco beat to it, which I quite like.  Short looping music for the boss battles, and an interesting contrast at the end of the game with a quite relaxed, calm theme for the ending music.  Hiroshi Kawaguchi composed the music.

After Burner (1987)

After Burner looks familiar, and I may have played a bit of this game, but games like this where lots of things are exploding and moving happening on the screen at once were never my forte, so if I played it, I didn't play it much.  As I'm watching more of these arcade games, I'm struck by how loud the sound effects are in relation to the music.  I think this might be because the arcades were such a noisy environment anyway, the sound effects needed to really pop out to grab your attention.  They often conveyed meaning about the game status more than the music did-- in arcade games, at least.  The only time I hear the music particularly well in this game is during the re-fueling moments.  This video is just Part 1/5.  Follow the video links if you want to see more.  Again, the music is by Hiroshi Kawaguchi.

Ghouls 'N Ghosts (1988)

I definitely watched friends play this game and perhaps played a bit myself.  I'm not sure if that was at the arcade, or on a home console version.  I definitely remember King Arthur running around in his underwear when he got hit!  I really like the music to this game and it's also the only game of the three that has the music in a good balance with the sound effects.  The beginning of the music for the last level reminds me very much of another castle/evil game music theme, but I can't put my finger on it. Hopefully I'll come across it as I continue working.  Tamayo Kawamoto composed the music (love a female composer!).  Part 1/3 below, follow the video links to see more.

Altered Beast (1988)

I may vaguely remember seeing this game at a friend's house.  Collins mentions this as being a pack-in game for the Sega.  The big leg up for Sega compared with SNES that I remember from being young was the more clear spoken dialogue.  That ability is definitely visible here, with lines like "Welcome to your doom," screams, and laughs, etc.  This is a game that I feel has a bit too much of the sound effects in the mix compared against the music.  It gives the arcade feel, but in a home (at least on this video) the ratio seems a bit off.  I didn't own a Sega, so I never really played any Sega game beyond the next one on this list.  

Sonic the Hedgehog (1991)

I definitely remember playing Sonic at friends houses, even though we didn't own a Sega.  Sonic was the funkier, cooler Mario alternative.  The sound in the game is pretty cool, starting right away with that "Sega" initial sound.  Such a contrast from the audio experience of starting a SNES game.  The music here is much the same as a Mario game, with music for different levels, stage clear, boss battles, invincibility, etc.  Interesting that the opening theme everyone can sing from the game is actually the invincibility theme!  It's fun to watch this gameplay through since I probably only saw the first few levels when I played with friends.  Masato Nakamura is the composer of this infamous game music.

Shadow of the Beast 2 (1992)

Here as in the next game on the list, Collins is talking about hearing the organ sound.  Watching this playthrough was definitely an underwhelming audio experience from what I expected.  I'm not sure I came away knowing which was the sound effect she intended to be heard.  In general, I feel again that sound effects overpower the music, which is pretty much just background ambience.  Tim Wright is the composer of this (and numerous other!) games.  While people online rave about this game music, I didn't go for it...

Fatal Rewind (1991)

Another game I didn't know.  I can't find a complete playthrough of the Sega version, but below's a bit of the gameplay.  It has the same organ sound as the above game, but I'm not sure that's heard in this brief video.  There is a video of an Amiga longplay, but that wouldn't have quite the same sounds as the Sega.

Misadventures of Flink (1993)

Here's Collins mentions the same flute sound between Fatal Rewind and Misadventures, but I'm not sure I can compare the two.  I'm glad to watch this gameplay.  Unlike the previous two, this is the kind of game I'd have liked and played for sure.  I also very much like this soundtrack.  I've been trying to decide what the flute sound of note is.  I've heard something I'd describe as clarinet, but not flute...  In any case, it's been a cool chance for me to hear more game music I didn't know.  Even though some internet sites say David Lowe is the composer, the in-game credits list Matthias Steinwach as the composer.

Toejam and Earl: Panic on Funkotron (1992)

I hadn't ever heard of Toejam and Earl.  I watched that longplay of the original and LOVED it (the sound effect snippet of The Hallelujah Chorus is genius!).  It reminds me of Earthbound, which I love dearly, with the visuals as well as the text font.  I also watched a longplay of this second game, Panic on Funkotron.  Collins is mentioning this game because it has a music game in it, "Jam Out," which she describes as "Simon-type."  I can't find a video that features that mini-game though.  If you know of one, leave me a note in the comments so I can see what that game is all about.  John Baker composed the grooves for both of these games-- amazing composer!  Sad to learn he's one of the few game composers to have already passed....   Here's a shorter video to whet your appetite.

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