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Online Since 1999.
Last updated: 7.May, 2017.
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GAME MUSIC PAGE

Date written: 15. 06. 2001

I simply have to write this page, dedicated to game music genre. Computer music and especially game music is really music I like to listen and after many years I didn't found any other music style where is to be found so much originality and ideas as in game music. Here I'd like to write some words about this type of music in the past and now, beginning with old ZX Spectrum's beeper sounds and ending with nowadays hi-quality game soundtracks. I'd like to provide some useful links to the outter net in every section, so you should take more information if you want. But note the date when was this article written, maybe some links couldn't work now...

ZX SPECTRUM 48K MUSIC

This is the oldest music "genre" I've listened to. I remember when I was going to primary school, everybody saved on their cassettes Modern Talking, Michael Jackson or Depeche Mode. Not me. I saved on my cassettes beeping ZX Spectrum tunes from Dynamite Dan, Chronos or Jetset Willy. Don't wonder why everybody from my class treat me little bit as 'fool' then. Although this music really wasn't very "listenable" too long time, it was at least
Remember that cute graphics and that beepy Mozart who played here?
Remember that cute graphics and that beepy Mozart who played here?
fun :). The best pieces of music for this compy did in my opininion Tim Follin (btw., one of very few musicians who actively developes game music till now, in 2001 he made awesome soundtrack to Ecco The Dolphin, Defender of the Future), who could make 5 channel sound on "normal" ZX Spectrum beeper, which sould be compared with PC Speaker!! This 5-channel sound he presented in soundtracks to games Chronos, Agent X and Agent X2. But I must mention also another trackers. David Whittaker who did some great stuff for Codemasters' games, some remakes of Martin Galway sounds (Terra Cresta for example), very nice soundtracks had Thunderbirds released in 1985 by Firebird, and some more. Best years of ZX 48 beeper music have been 1984-1986, after that many games didn't have any 48K sounds and sound support has been built in only for 128K Spectrums.

ZX SPECTRUM 128K MUSIC

That was "another cafe" comparing the 48K Spectrum. Three channels of synthetised and crystal-clean music was really big step forward againist classical 'beeper'. Unfortunately, I never had Spectrum 128K, so I've been missing all the great tunes, but I've met them when I played these games under PC emulators. So I must mention IMHO best musician for Spectrum 128K coming from Czech Republic, František Fuka. He made awesome pieces, although they've been mostly remakes of popular C64 tunes. But anyway, for his Commando, Tetris 2 or Belegost tunes could Spectrum owners be very thankful to him. Also famous C64 musicians, especially Ben Daglish, Tim Follin, David Whittaker, but also Rob Hubbard, made some great pieces for this compy. Tim Follin did great job on Bionic Commando, Rob Hubbard made awesome soundtrack to Dragon's Lair 2, Ben Daglish's unforgettable things are Monty's games or Terramex. But as I mentioned, I wasn't able to listen to all tunes on this Compy, so they're only few from selection.

ZX SPECTRUM MUSIC LINX

ftp://ftp.worldofspectrum.org/pub/sinclair/music/ - All ZX Spectrum 128K music in AY and/or MP3 format
World of Spectrum - All info about ZX Spetrum, games, music players etc.


COMMODORE 64 MUSIC

I have to say it. I simply have, but it isn't easy. Ok, Commodore 64 WAS the best 8-bit computer, and yes, it HAD the best music from all 8-bit computers. Although I never had C64, although I was hard Spectrum fan in the times I was young. Now, in time of emulators, I must say that Commodore's SID music is something absolutely great. Try some SIDs and listen to them (links to pages with SID music are below), you'll sure agree that these tunes are so nice and melodic, they have so many ideas in them as nothing else has. I downloaded all released C64 songs from the net and listened in the whole C64 playlist (it took me whole 1 year!). When I finished, I simply needed to listen to the playlist again... And who are the kings of this music? Surely, Rob Hubbard is the first
This
This "seriously" looking man is Rob Hubbard himself :)
star. He made very much famous game tunes - the best in my opinion are Rasputin, Knucklebusters, Crazy Comets, Auf Wiedersehen Monty, Lightforce, Commando, Chimera, International Karate and much, much more. But I have to mention other C64 musicians which aren't worse! Ben Daglish, who made many songs also for ZX 128, was famous with little bit "weird" tunes like Krakout. His best stuff were sure Last Ninja tunes, Cobra, Deflektor or Bombo weren't bad too. Another god, Martin Galway, created great loader music (do you know how I liked loaders? I very tried to play music on Spectrum during loading, but it was impossible on that computer. Ocean did it on C64 and with Martin Galway's Ocean Loader tunes has boring loading turned into awesome experience!). But loader tunes wasn't all - great tune is Rambo First Blood Part 2, Arkanoid (first tune ever which uses sampled sounds). Germany had very strong C64 community and great musicians. The outgoing star was Chris Huelsbeck, who made fist steps on his career on this computer. Tunes like Jinks, Bad Cat or Shades have been great, and especially I must mention awesome To Be On Top, music to Chris' music game. Other Germans, Rudolf Stember or Ramiro Vaca have been great too, and I'll sure write something more about them in the Amiga music section, where they reached their top. Big quality in C64 tunes came from Netherlands. Reyn Ouwehand's Last Ninja 3 Tune, Jeroen Tel's Hawkeye or Battle Valley, or Edwin van Santen's game- and demotunes are telling you how big quality can be done from "simple" C64 SID chip. It's hard to mention complete list of nice tunes on this great compy, but just in short, great tune was Mark Cooksey's Ghosts'n'Goblins theme, or Jonathan Dunn's Platoon. And realy, MUCH MUCH more...

COMMODORE 64 MUSIC LINX

High Voltage Sid Collection - All SID tunes on Commodore 64!
SidPlay for Windows - best Windows' player which allows you to play SID files
C64 composers photoze - See what they look like, hear how they sound like! remix.kwed.org - Site with plenty of MP3 remixes of famous C64 tunes, this is definitely your choice, if you want original SID melodies in much better quality and in MP3 format.
Other SID links - LaLa's plenty of other SID links, homepages of musicians etc..


AMIGA MUSIC

One and only 16 bit computer which I'll take a closer look to. It's because no other computer could compete Amiga in her best times. And if we're considering what was the best part of this computer, we'll sure think of Amiga's sound chip. Big quality 4 stereo digitized channels brought Amiga awesome tunes, which have been best of the best long time after the "official" dead of Amiga in 1994. In my opinion, Amiga's music was the best till 1996-1997, but due to great melodies and "ideas" of her tunes (something like the C64 tunes), it's no problem to listen to these tunes today.
But I'm writing about Game music, so let's talk about it. First great tunes have been brought to Amiga by famous C64 composers. Either David Whittaker, which has done great work in Xenon 2 The Megablast, Back to the Future, later Shadows of the Beast, Golden Axe and much more. Or Charles Callet, who supported Rob Hubbard's routine mostly in Infogrames' games, absolute class was North & South soundtrack or Shufflepuck Café . Also his another works, Bobo or Gobliiins games, have to be mentioned. Real master of "chip"-music was Matthew Simmonds, aka 4-Mat, he made very nice tunes to Codemasters' Dizzy games, Core Design's Chuck Rock and much more. Some of these musicians haven't only produced great game tunes, but they have been the class on the demoscene too. Here I must mention Bjorn Lynne (known as Dr. Awesome), who firstly released tunes for demos, then he moved onto game music, to release high quality work on Project X, Alien Breed 3D or Worms. We'll sure mention Bjorn later, because Amiga was only the begining of his career. Let's get to one of the best Amiga musicians, Allister Brimble. This man was master of various music styles - either great childish happy tunes as in Wonderland, Superfrog or Troddlers games, or "respected" tunes as Alien Breed, or part of Project X tunes. All these forementioned musicians have been from England, but very strong music community has been grown also in Germany. Forementioned Chris Huelsbeck has made his absolutely best works on Amiga and in my honest opinion he's the best Amiga musician (and sure one of my best all-time musicians). His No.1 from No.1 is the
One of the true gods of Amiga's music - Chris Huelsbeck
One of the true gods of Amiga's music - Chris Huelsbeck
Turrican 2 music - 20 tunes full of ideas, melody, athmosphere, simply everything the good soundtrack should have. Also Turrican 1 was great, Turrican 3 was little disappointment for me, but only because I had very high expectation. Turrican was not the only thing this god has made. I must mention awesome music in "bee shoot'em up" Apidya, or Grand Monster Slam, or Jim Power, or Master Blazer, or R-Type. What title, that one of the best game music I've ever heard. And Chris has another first place. He was the first european musician, who made CD soundtracks from his work, so we can listen to awesome Turrican or Apidya soundtracks in true CD quality. Some of his another Amiga tunes have been released on his CDs Shades, Rainbows, To be on Top or Sound Factory, unfortunately they've been mixed with not-very-good-quality dance music. Another gods from Germany are Rudolf Stember and Jochen Hippel. First one made some nice stuff to few Rainbow Arts' logical games, but his best work was sure Z-Out. Jochen Hippel did great job on Thalion's famous games Rings of Medusa, Return to Medusa, Ghost Battle (typical example how can music "repair" rather bad game), Enchanted Land, Wings of Death or Lethal Xcess. Again - what game, that awesome music. If I try to mention all Amiga's great musicians, I cannot forget on "swedish god" Olof Gustaffson. He hasn't sounded many games, but what he did, it was really "much depended" on sound. You remember Pinball Dreams, Pinball Fantasies and Pinball Illusions? Yes, this man did great job there! And in my opinion best of the best have been been Benefactor tunes. This great "Lemmings-logical" game is really proud of its sound... So, I really can't mention all games with great tunes on this compy. Lemmings is for example one of them, Midnight Resistance another and we could continue until all readers of this article fell asleep :). Better let's tell something about Amiga's music formats and about some links where you will find the mentioned tunes.
Firstly, the main music format for Amiga is MOD. This format is supported by most Windows players such as WinAmp etc., but they're often emulating these MOD tunes with questionable quality. If you really want to listen to MODs with "original" Amiga's feeling under Windows, download ModPlug player (see links to software below). The bad thing is, that not all Amiga tunes are in MOD format. In MOD format is only approx. 50% of all released Amiga game music and 90% of all released demo music. The rest is stored in some various formats, which depend from the authors who did the music (musicians like Chris Huelsbeck, Rob Hubbard, David Whittaker or Jochen Hippel created their own formats to play music). Today isn't problem to download all the music in these formats (see links below, did I say that? :) ), the problem is often to play it under PC. They have been mostly playable only under original Amiga's player DeliTracker, but fortunately, this year has been released clone of this player for PC, named DeliPlayer. Through this player you should play all these great tunes on your PC! But (there have to be some buts :) ), you must note that not all formats have information about playing time inside, so you'll need to play with this prog and setup little bit, if you want to listen to big playlist during work.

AMIGA MUSIC LINX

World of game mods - your absolute solution if you're looking for game MODs
ExoticA - All "exotic" game music in exotic formats
ModPlug player - The best player to play MOD format music
DeliPlayer - This player plays most of the exotic music formats on PC, is also very good for MODs and MP3s too!
Amiga Music Preservation - Info about all Amiga music and musicians

PC MUSIC

Let's have a look at most common machine of nowadays, but let's look at it in the times of late 80s and sooner 90s. It doesn't have sense to mention PC game music before this time, because it produced only "beeping" caused by PC speaker then. But comparing to beeping of ZX Spectrum e.g., beeping on PC was the way worse. :) Maybe because authors of PC games didn't have the sense for making "maximum from minimum", maybe because sooner PCs have been just unfortunate on good beeping musicians :) Anyway, let's skip this beeping time on PC and let's look at the times when first "real" music started to be created on this compy. It happened by incoming of first AdLib sound cards, which had music chipset based on synthesised sounds of OPL-2 synthesizer. As the time came, Creative Labs used this AdLib chipset in first version of their SoudBlaster cards, and music started to make big progress with incoming of General MIDI format. I won't bother you with long evolution of midi music, important is, that game music on PC was, in most cases, in midi format. Although it could use any other format, includint Amiga's MODs (and it also was used in some games), MIDIs were the PC style. Why? Maybe because most of the PC games came from USA (comparing the Amiga, which was 'european' platform, or consoles which lived in japanese world), and in USA was midi always very popular. MIDI tunes (or tunes with MID extension), have some pros and contras comparing to mods or other formats. Real advantage is, that the quality of sound output raises with quality of your soundcard, because midi doesn't save sample data. It saves only pure music data (that's why it's also smaller than mod), and the music samples needs to be in the soundcard itself. Midis are also relatively easy to made, you just can plug the real synthesiser and go on, big advantages is also their small size. But MIDIs have also disadvantages. Because of many MIDI formats (General MIDI, General Sound, XG, AWE), it may happen that one midi tune can sound on the soundcard totally crappy, because it hasn't mapped the right samples for corrsponding soundcard. Total tragedy is, when really good XG cards like Yamaha DB50XG can play normal General MIDI files only under some emulations, which really isn't very cool. Also in music alone have the MIDIs serious lags. If you listen to 10000+ mids on the same soundcard, you can be bored from the same samples and ideas, and you found that MODs, although they don't sound so nice often, have cool sampled data and you cannot expect what surprise awaits you in the next one... I, personally, like Mods more than Mids, but maybe it's because I've grown on Amiga and mods.

Anyway, doesn't matter on the format, everytime does matter on the quality of the musicians. And also on PC have been great music masters, which released awesome MIDI tunes on it. Although the PC tunes haven't reach my heart as it was on Amiga or C64, you can find plenty of great "hellish" tunes in games like Doom 1 and 2 made by Robert Prince, one of very productive PC midi musicians. Technoid freaks could enjoy Descent 1 and 2, and especially adventures from LucasArts (Monkey Island 1-2, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis) and Sierra (Quest For Glory, Space Quests) have very much of great "adventurous" feeling. Surprising on all these games was that one game often has 30 or 40 tunes, one completely another than else! And that wasn't in these times so usual, in that time was normal one or two tunes played usually during all the game. So it is in Dune 2, Sim City 2000 or Al Quadim. And absolute great medieval symphony is in Warcraft 2. These tunes really rock, but tunes from Warcraft 1 are not far away behind them! What? I forgot to mention great tunes from Heretic and Hexen? Oh... Yes, I should name plenty and plenty of PC tunes, but maybe you can look at World of Game MIDs, and check some for yourself. Only one think that I wanted to say, is the last thing. Yes, last "big" game released on PC with clean MIDI music was Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy VIII. Sure keep in mind these midis, because they're one of the best midis made for PC.

PC MUSIC LINX

World of Game Mids - If you're looking for PC game midis, you're at right place
Videogame Music Archive - Source of many many videogame midis, unfortunately they removed the PC section, so you'll find there only arranged Midis from other systems.

SUPER NINTENDO MUSIC

Do you like the game music filled with unforgettable "japanese" sense and athmosphere? Then Super Nintendo tunes would be really thing you should take closer look at, if you don't like to download big MP3s from original soundtracks (see below). But let's talk something about some facts of Super Nintendo's tunes. Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES in short) was 16-bit game console which had most popularity in early 90s, so we
Final Fantasy 4 and it's great music done by Nobuo Uematsu
Final Fantasy 4 and it's great music done by Nobuo Uematsu
can compare the quality of music with Amiga. Although Amiga was more popular in Europe, SNES and Sega MegaDrive have been very popular especially in Japan. Games on this console are mostly japanese too, and the same is it with music. SNES got its fame with two types of games - RPGs and Jump'n'Runs. In RPGs was absolute leader Final Fantasy serie also due to its music done by Nobuo Uematsu. But another ones - Chrono Trigger, Illusion of Gaia, Soul Blazer, or Tales of Phantasia have all "typical" japanese feeling, which is hardly to describe, better is to listen to it :). In Jump'n'Run genre is most famous Nintendo's Super Mario, but also some european companies converted on Super Nintendo from Amiga and started to do quality games (for example Factor 5 company did this, so we can hear Chris Huelsbeck's production like Super Turrican 1&2 or Indiana Jones for SNES). And we sure cannot forget japanese Jump'n'runs - especially Konami's games have great sound, my personal favourite is Castlevania (and all sequels). If I compare the Amiga and SNES tunes, I prefer Amiga ones (I see more "melodies" in Amiga's tunes and maybe it's also because SNES tunes are often "too japanese" :) ). But it should be only my opinion, you should try and listen to SNES tunes, at the links below are very much SNES tunes in very good SPC format (every tune has only around 60kB), you will sure have fun listening to them.

SNES MUSIC LINX

Zophar's SPC archive - Biggest collection of SPCs from almost all games for this console
Super Jukebox - IMHO the best player for SPC files
Other SPC players - If Super Jukebox won't satisfy you :)

SONY PSX, PC & NOWADAYS MUSIC

Sometimes in 1995, with incoming of CD game format, it lost sense to use some special formats for playing game music to save space. The companies began to release music in games in normal, uncompressed wave format. These tunes have been often provided either as direct redbook audio tracks with game, playable in any CD player, or in some form of WAVE data. The good thing about that was much easier listening to game music as from Amiga times - you could just insert CD into CD player or copy some files to HDD and listen to them. The bad thing was fact that size of these files has become very big, so you could forget to make large playlists which will take years to listen as it was in C64. Playing music CD takes almost 40-50 minutes and then you have to insert another one or listen again. Fortunately, MP3 format and bigger harddisks have made definite solution for storing files, so I've started to make MP3 archives with ripped music of my own games. On the other side, this era has brought many possibilities for releasing official game soundtracks directly from game companies. These soundtracks have very big tradition in Japan, where they became very popular already in Nintendo's times. In Japan are full stores of game soundtracks and it isn't any surprise to see four or five soundtracks from one popular game. But you should be careful, because quantity decreases quality... Although there're still very much awesome soundtracks coming from Japan. So what are my favourite game soundtracks from this country? On the first place we must mention again Nobuo Uematsu, as he is something like the "god" of japanese game music, although he made music in "only" one series, Final Fantasy. But what a series it is! Every his soundtrack has so many various ideas and melodies, that I really wonder how could this man produce every year such a big and various soundtrack as a soundtrack from one FF sequel is. The best of the best was imho soundtrack from Final Fantasy VII, followed by Final Fantasy IV (although, this soundtrack came with good quality also in Super Nintendo's SPC, if you wannt to save space), then VIII, or IX - every soundtrack has 3 or 4 CDs, and every game has some more released CDs with arranged music, e.g. "Piano collection" (original tunes played with piano), or vocals etc.. Nobuo Uematsu released also his own music CD called Phantasmagoria, it's very quality work too. Very close to Uematsu is another japanese musician - Yasunori Mitsuda. His work can be seen in SquareSoft's RPGs Chrono Cross or Xenogears, and these tunes are really worth of listening. Very good work made musicians from Konami in the latest soundtrack to game Genso Suikogaiden, but also in Metal Gear solid or in almost "classic" Castlevania melodies. Then I must mention at least few other CDs from Japan that impressed me very much: Vandal Hearts 2 Soundtrack, Tekken & Soul Edge music or Jumping Flash (to mention every game genre :) ). In Europe or US is much smaller game soundtrack tradition, but the quality is comparable great. Really great soundtracks made Cryo's musician Stephane Picq and Pierre Esteve. The absolutely greatest work by Pierre Esteve are Atlantis
Bjorn Lynne and his true guitar :)
Bjorn Lynne and his true guitar :)
Soundtracks, but River World, Blackmoon Chronicles or Stephane Picq's Lost Eden have very high quality too. German composer Chris Huelsbeck released some game soundtracks - Tunnel B1 and Extreme Assault. Although they're really great, they haven't reached the quality of his sooner work (Turrican, Shades etc.). His colleague Haiko Ruttman is working for Blue Byte also for Extreme Assault, but his greatest production is Battle Isle and Settlers soundtracks. He made one CD soundtrack to the "Incubation" game, which was distributed with limited edition of this Blue Byte's game. Absolutely awesome CDs releases Bjorn Lynne. His game soundtracks to Worms Armageddon, X2, or Seven Kingdoms 1&2 have very big quality, but he released also some music CDs with various music styles, and these CDs are absolute first class! Frank Klepacki, who's working on music to Westwood games, does great music to Command & Conquer and Dune sequels, and his soundtracks are mostly sold in limited editions of games. In the RPG field, there're nice soundtracks from Black Isle studios games (Baldur's Gate games and Icewind Dale). And last-but-not-least I'll mention Tommy Tallarico, who released music to games like Earthworm Jim or Tomorrow Never Dies and made his two CDs of "Tommy Tallarico Greatest Hits", but his best work is imho sure MDK Soundtrack. So look at links below and you should try to download something.

PC & VIDEO GAME MUSIC LINX

Synsoniq Records - The biggest european's game music distributor, look at their shop to buy some CDs...
Game audio player - Great prog which plays and rips game music directly from PC game CDs, recognizes many weird and rare file formats
Soundtrack Central - Video game music reviews (tracklist and covers included). Read it and try it!
Game Music Revolution - Index of released game music CDs with tracklist, covers, catalgue numbers etc...
RPGamers - Very big archive of game MP3s (mostly on FTPs)
Gamingforce audio - Very much game MP3s too (but stored on iDrive, so don't know how long will it last). Go look also to their forums for actual links, if you want!
Overclocked Remix - Biggest page with video game remixes.

MY FAVOURITE MUSIC TOOLS

CDex - In my opinion the best MP3 grabber, it uses Lame MP3 encoder, has convert options like WAV->MP3, MP3->WAV, MP3->MP3, doesn't do cracks in songs when grabing from CD like Audio Catalyst often uses to do and after all it's free.
Apollo - The best MP3 player. Forget all WinAmps, this player has great song-to-song mixing and cool handling, sorting and updating large playlists. Unfortunately, the developing of this prog has been stopped, but it still remaing the best.
Tag & Rename - Absolutely best solution for handling ID3 tags of MP3 files. With this prog you can edit multiple ID3V1 and ID3V2 tags, rename files according to these tags, download tracklists from internet thru CDDB database and much more!