500 Words about… Sunsoft

Today’s post is about one of the more interesting NES developers who became known for their unique musical output, Sunsoft. There’s also a lot of annotations too, so do read them!

Chances are that, if you owned a NES you’ve come across a Sunsoft game. Like a number of Japanese developers, Sunsoft transitioned from the arcades to the monster that was the Famicom in the mid to late 80’s. One of their first releases for the platorm was the infamous Ikki, a game so terrible that a new word entered the Japanese lexicon thanks to it: Kusoge. Quite literally: “shit game”.[1] This didn’t stop it being a rampant success for them as well as the source of a few remakes and reboots.

Sunsoft’s original games didn’t always hit such lows. Some, like Atlantis no Nazo, never left Japan and is generally considered “not great”. Others, like Master Blaster, became international successes. This varying quality also carried over to the somewhat surprisingly high profile licenced titles they managed to acquire. Their first Batman game in 1989 was a loose tie in with Tim Burton’s reimagining of the Caped Crusader, and along with its NES sequel is still held in high regard. Less timely was Fester’s Quest which appeared before the 1991 Addams Family reboot and is mostly remembered as being stupidly hard.[2]

Continue reading “500 Words about… Sunsoft”

500 Words about… Thunder Force IV

So I’ve decided that I want to write more and keep this webiste a bit more alive, even if I can’t talk about what I’m working on just now. As such, I’m starting a wee series of posts that will be… mostly about games and sound and music to some extent but probably any topic or thing that tickles my fancy. In order to stop rambling too much, I’ve given myself 500 words, intros and notes/annotations not withstanding. So here’s hoping someone gets something out of it!

And on that note, today’s post is about Technosoft’s final Mega Drive/Genesis STG/Shmup – Thunder Force IV.

There are very few game soundtracks that I will actively listen to on repeat. This doesn’t mean I won’t listen to any odd OST here and there, but few I just enjoy listening to over and over. Recently, it’s been Thunder Force IV and, oh boy, is it a ride.

Continue reading “500 Words about… Thunder Force IV”

Mobius – Out Now!

Ahoy!

I’m super happy to announce that I’ve contributed to the Materia Collective‘s latest tribute album: Mobius – Sonic The Hedgehog Remixed!

mobius cover

Buy from Loudr
Buy on iTunes
Stream from Spotify

The album is over 3 hours of remixed Sonic themes taken from across the series (and even the TV shows too!) featuring 80 different artists, and covers more genres than you can shake your Robuttnik at (sorry/notsorry).

Here are some more previews too:

So yeah, totally check it out! And hang around until the end for my weird little remix too!

A quick update

I haven’t updated this in a while for a number of reasons and holy crap it’s been 9 months since the last one sooooo a quick recap:

August 2015 – Edinburgh Games Symposium: Protoplay Edition

The 3rd annual Edinburgh Games Symposium was hosted as part of the Dare To Be Digital festival. I was on a panel on game audio with Joanna Orland, Ryan Ike and Chipzel discussing a load of audio related things. Then Steph and I gave a talk on Monstrum, with her covering the VR implementation and me covering the audio work. These were film and I’ll chase them up and cover them in more detail later!

The Mantra Collective also did a cover of Bad Happenings from the Monstrum OST and it’s super cool. You can check it out here:

 

November 2015 – Got elected to the IGDA Scotland board

The IGDA Scotland board elections happened in November and I managed to get elected some how, so yay! Got lots of stuff in the pipeline and we’ve just hosted three play parties for this year’s Global Game Jam  with thanks to a number of local partners. We have plans for the rest of the year too, so keep an eye out!

November 2015 – Award nominations!

Monstrum also got shortlisted for a few awards in November. Firstly it was shortlisted for Best Debut Game at the TIGA Awards, then later in the month for Best Game at BAFTA Scotland (shout out to Blazing Griffin who got the win). Not bad!

January 2016 – I got a Neo Geo Pocket

And it’s the coolest wee thing. I mention it as I kinda wanna talk about limitations in games at some point. It also is home to the 1st non-Sega hardware Sonic and it’s amazing remixes of the Mega Drive games’ soundtracks. Case in point:

Also been playing a lot of SNK games on the Sega Saturn as well for that additional crossover bonus.

There was a lot of other things that happened in the past few months too that I’ll unpack at a later date, but will hopefully have something a bit more interesting to talk about soon! Busy busy!

Monstrum – The Hunter’s Soundtrack

Originally posted on the Team Junkfish blog. So much for keeping this up to date. Hopefully will have more to talk about soon though.

In this blog I’m going to talk about some music in Monstrum again, this time: the Hunter. As with the Brute’s themes there is a fair amount of sound design stuff going on as opposed to traditional instrumentation, so I’ll go over that as well as the general ideas that I was aiming for. Here’s the Hunter’s Chase Theme:

Continue reading “Monstrum – The Hunter’s Soundtrack”

Story in Games Pt. 2: Sound Design and New Leaves

Originally posted on the Team Junkfish blog.

We’re on to the second proper part of my little series of blogs covering the use of audio in storytelling for games. Previously on Team Junkfish I spoke about the use of music in games and how we’re going about those ideas in Monstrum. This time I’m going to talk a bit more about the use of sound effects and how they build up the world and everything in it.

Continue reading “Story in Games Pt. 2: Sound Design and New Leaves”

Story in Games Pt. 1.5: The Music in Monstrum

So much for writing more… I should try and keep up, but it’s been busy at Team Junkfish. Once again, this is a repost of that blog and is reflective of the development progress at the time. The original post is here.

 
This is one follow up to my previous blog which discussed storytelling in games. You can give it a read here. My original plan for the second part was to speak about the use of sound effects in story telling and world building, however I thought it’d be an idea to talk about how we’re actually going about the music side of things ourselves!

 
In Monstrum we are aiming to use both diegetic and non-diegetic music for a few different purposes. The most obvious use of non-diegetic music are the monsters’ themes, so let’s start there. Simplifying some statements down a bit, these are used to provide information (i.e.: the monster is chasing you), context (which monster it actually is) and emotional content (trying to evoke a certain feeling). I’ve spoken about the “hows” of the Brute’s theme before in detail here, including of the sound design that’s used, so I’ll give you a little summary of the decision making, the “whys”, that went behind it and what I was hoping to achieve.

Continue reading “Story in Games Pt. 1.5: The Music in Monstrum”

Story in Games Pt. 1: Speaking through Song

Originally posted on the Team Junkfish blog.

This blog is based on an event that happened as part of Abertay’s Game Lab, loosely based on the topic of “story”, and how people from different disciplines tackled it in games. I was asked to provide an audio perspective, and given that I’m usually better at explaining things in written form than verbally (shocking, I know!) I decided that I’d expand and clarify a few points I spoke about and why I think they’re important. This will be the first of what will (hopefully only) be a two part blog post, and will have a few spoilers here and there, so heads up!

What is “Story” anyway?

The word “story” itself is a bit of a nebulous term. Most people would associate it with some form of narrative, such as the Hero’s Journey, that follows one main protagonist or group of people through their various trials and quests to some sort of resolution. But is that it? Is that everything that’s being told? Does the entire game world merely exist around the player character(s), with everything only being relevant them? What about everything else: the details, the history, even the context of the place and situations that you may be in. Going from A to B through C becomes much more engaging and involving if there are different forces, details and subtexts at play instead of “because that’s where you need to go”. 

Basically, how do you “build the world“?

Continue reading “Story in Games Pt. 1: Speaking through Song”