Megaman Inspired Venture Kid Features Norrin Radd’s Last ModPlug NES Soundtrack

Matt Creamer aka Norrin Radd has is without a doubt one of the masters of NES composition. With amazing NES albums like Melodia de Infinita and Anomaly and his unique style and mastery of the 2A03, he is the perfect choice for a iOS game soundtrack that tries to pay homage to the classic Megaman series.

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Venture Kid feels like an NES game from the opening cinematic scenes. Every tone and sound is authentic and the game itself mostly sticks to the limitations of the NES, with the exception of some multi-paralax scrolling backgrounds and modern “achievement” style awards.

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Matt says this is his last NES album using ModPlug, which he uses for its ability to slightly detune the pulses, a trick that adds some cool shine to the standard NES tones. Like much of his work, there is a bit of a middle-eastern scale vibe and its mostly apparent in the pyramid level. Perhaps the games only shortcoming is you don’t get to select a stage. It feels like Megaman in every other way but that. The stages are filled with secrets and places to use weapons, but you have to go at them in order. All things considered though, its as close to an NES experience you can get on your iPhone and I highly recommend it.

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Little Paw – Space Corgi LP From Ex-Revengineer Nick Maynard

maxresdefault-1Nick Maynard is the guy behind the awesome post rock of Revengineers, one of the best post-rock/chiptune groups in my humble opinion. He also has some solo stuff, an LSDJ manual that is quite popular and has helped out with the also-amazing Noisewaves.

Little Paw is his new release which visits some familiar emotional territory of the Reengineers, earnest guitar and soaring leads evoke all kinds of feelings. However, the palette is expanded and more danceable this time.

While the guitar playing in Revengineers is mostly rhythmic and textural, this project puts it a bit more center stage with some great solos and awesome riffs. One of the most interesting pieces is Flying Slowly, which is a slower song, reminiscent of M38, with an epic bluesy 80s guitar solo at the end.

You will also get some awesome extras, including an unreleased Revengineers track and some wonderful other projects that Nick has in the works. Grab this awesome album today!

 

 

StarTales Interactive Releases MegaBird with Beatscribe 8-bit NES Soundtrack

Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 10.58.37 AMThe Flappy Bird styled app has been providing tons of simplistic fun for a while now. It’s cool to see some new games that expand on the original formula. Megabird is one such game. It includes bosses and other features you don’t always see in these kind of games. For the soundtrack, we went straight to inspiration from one of the classics, Megaman II. It’s clear that the creator was heavily inspired by the classic genre on this game too. Check it out today!

Plogue Chipsounds Wave Table Explained

Plogue Chipsounds works great with its presets. But that wave table can really throw you off if you’re new to the tool. This should will help you learn how to use it to create classic sounds and also show you some great examples along the way.

Wave Sequencer Settings

fade-inSync – This determines if the steps that happen in your wave table are in time with your MIDI tempo or the tempo specified in the BPM.

BPM – Set’s the internal BPM of the controller. It can be overridden by clicking Sync.

Vel – Check this if you want the notes playing to respond to the velocity (how hard you hit it) of your keyboard or midi notes. If you uncheck this, notes play at full volume. Usually you want to uncheck this for realistic NES sounds.

Loop start – Once the entire wave table plays through, this tells it where to start looping (if at all).

Rel Start – If you don’t want to start at the first command the first time through, put the step value in here that you wish to start on.

We will cover Sequence settings in a future tutorial.

The Table

Let’s start by looking at what each feature is for and the options under each one.

T – The T column is for tempo. This controls the length of each sequence of commands and notes that you play. For example, if you make two wave table items with T = ¼, when you play the note, the commands will execute starting from when the midi event (or keyboard hit) is detected and then the second command will kick of ¼ of a note later. Check the Sync checkbox to have it get it’s tempo from the MIDI environment (aka your song’s tempo). You can also put T=0 which means you want to change something about the upcoming note but not actually have it count time for this command. We’ll see how this works in the examples later on.

Type – The type column explains what each step will actually do. They are defined of the following:

Null – Nothing happens, use this to leave a gap or a delay of a certain time before the next command executes.
CC – Control Channel – You use this to change things like the vibrato, expression (volume level), filter cutoff ect.
NoteOn / NoteOff – These do what you’d think, they tell the note to play or not to play. You can use this to make gaps, echoes and arpeggios.
Pitch – This will take the note up or down the amount you specify in the Evt1 column. It is used for making arpeggios.
KS – Keyswitch controls which of the channels of the default chip you are using, you use this to change from pulse1 to pulse2 to triangle, to noise. This can create some interesting effects that would be hard to do in a real tracker but not impossible for the chip to play.
Evt1 Column – The settings here depend on the type you’ve selected. For CC it’s the selection of the note property you wish to change. It will give you a drop-down of valid choices based on your type. For pitch, it is the amount of up or down steps you wish to go.

Evt2 Column – This column is usually the value of the change For example, if you select Type CC and Evt1 = 1 (which is Pitch LFO Depth aka Vibrato) Evt2 tells the system how much vibrato you want to be added to the note at this point.

Some examples will explain it best. We will explain what happens at each step in the process.

Echo

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0 – The note plays for 1/64 of a whole note.
1 – The note is turned off for 1/48th of a whole note.
2 – The note is turned back on but at a lower volume (evt2=61)
3 – The note it turned off again.
4 – The note is turned on again at a much lower volume (evt2=20)

The 64th and 48th notes give it the offbeat echo effect that we commonly hear in music.

Looping Staccato Arpeggio

arp-loop0 – The note is turned on and plays for 1/64th.
1 – The note is muted for 1/64th.
2 – The pitch is stepped up 5 half-steps. Since T=0, this is done before the next note plays.
3 – The next 5 half-step higher note plays for 1/64th.
4 – The note is turned off for 1/64th.
5 – The pitch is changed to +12, since T=0 it’s done before the next note plays (no time passes)
6 – The note is played an octave above the original for 1/64th.
7 – the note is muted again.

Loop start = 2 – the sequence goes back to step 2 until the user lets go of the keyboard or the MIDI note ends.

Increasing Vibrato

vibrato-fade0 – The volume (CC=11) is set to 127 (evt2=127)
1 – The vibrato (CC=1) is set to 0. No time has passed, nor has a note played.
2 – The note begins to play for ¼, each time a key is pressed, steps 0 and 1 execute with no time pass before this step.
3,4,5 – After 1/8 the vibrato (CC=11) is increased slightly.
6 – The volume (CC=11) is decreased slightly.
7 – The vibrato reaches its maximum of 8 here.

Make sense? It’s really about setting up a series of steps that happen in a finite space of time. Do it right and you can really get some sweet sounds of out this unit.

Cheerful Ghost and Wick Release Starship Rubicon with Beatscribe OST

starship_rubiconOSTEver wish Asteroids had more comprehensive and immersive gameplay qualities? If you have, than look no further than Starship Rubicon. Cheerful Ghost and Wick have released the massive expansion to the original Rubicon today for a steal price of just $10. A Linux version is coming soon. Imagine playing Asteroids in a large environment where there are other ships to interact with, mission objectives and a customizable ship a la FTL.

The soundtrack for Starship Rubicon is a complete remake of the original three tracks I did almost two years ago for the original Rubicon. It’s now been expanded to a full soundtrack including some bonus remix tracks from the chiptune scene, Inverse Phase and sleepytimejesse. Some of the tracks here I composed over 10 years ago and was saving for the perfect game. Rubicon has proven to be worth of the music. It’s not the simplest game ever, but the slight learning curve is worth the in-depth and exciting gameplay. Grab the soundtrack on bandcamp today!

Awesome Chiptune + Post Rock Fusion Bands

What happens when you use guitars and drums to make music that isn’t mean to rock ? You get post rock. You’ve probably heard post rock whether you realize it or not. It’s often features in the background of TV show and movies. Think of it as rock music you can listen to while studying for a test or writing code. Some of the bands at the forefront of this genre (although not all of them like the label) are Explosions in the Sky, The Backward Step, El Ten Eleven, Six Parts Seven, Sigur Ros and Mogwai. I’ve been saying for about two years, “there needs to be more chiptune+post rock!” And lately, there is finally a lot of it appearing, or at least I’m getting better at finding it.

Revengineers

The Revengineers rock a bit more than their counterparts. They use an NES to provide melodic lines over their amazing guitars and stand-out drums. They’re great live and have never relased a bad track in my opinion.

Noisewaves

 Noisewaves are a bit softer and explore the more shoegaze-ish side of post rock. They have very emotionally resonant songs that are great for a rainy day or evening.

The Bronzed Chorus


These guys remind me a bit more of groups like El Ten Eleven and Six Parts Seven. They have a great energy level and some sweet guitar effects.

KANAGAWA


Kanagawa needs to make more stuff. We hope they’ll release more soon because it’s excellent. Some Gameboy sounds used here backed by feedback soaked walls of guitar and excellent compositions. Perfect for a late night drive.

Infinity Shred


Infinity Shred has a little bit more of an electronic edge than the other bands here. Reminding me at times of M83. They have some wonderful retro-tones in every song and great drums and backing guitars. The Sanctuary album may be a bit pricey by chiptune/bandcamp standards, but I assure you; you will not be disappointed. Check out the trippy retro cosmonaut Space Odyssey video for Mapper too!

When Glitches Create New Worlds

The Farlands - Some of the most enigmatic glitchy weirdness ever.

The Farlands – Some of the most enigmatic glitchy weirdness ever.

Programming a video game is a huge task. You are essentially creating rules of a controlled slice of reality. If you want to draw your users in, it has to feel like a real world and behave like one. This applies even to the oldest, simplest video games.

Sometimes, though, it’s impossible to test every scenario or know what strange unexpected action a user will take. This can lead to odd, confusing behavior or a total breakdown of reality. Sometimes, glitches misinterpret game data and create entire new worlds. Here’s a few examples of that and some explanations of why and how it happens. In most of these classic games, levels were just blocks of data stored sequentially, cross to the next room = load the next block of data. But sometimes bugs made it possible for these blocks to be misread or interpreted incorrectly. Check out some of this crazy stuff and explore these accidental worlds for yourself.

 

Super Mario Bros. – The Minus World

As a kid, the “minus world” was almost like an urban legend. There was no youtube so we only heard word of mouth stories of people finding this secret world in one of the most famous games of all time. Turns out, it is for real. It’s apparently in the game’s data as level 36, but since there is no graphic for 36, it just says [blank]-1 for 36-1. The level can’t be completed, but as you can see in this hack, there are even more levels created beyond it if you use an editor to add a completion flag.

 

Metroid – Secret Worlds Door Glitch

Metroid was always kind of glitchy. You’d get stuck in walls sometimes, or see a creepy flutter of color at the edge of the screen as you leave a room making you wonder if something was just off screen waiting for you. Another childhood urban legend was that there were entire worlds you could access by slowing jumping your way through the ceiling while stuck in a door. And it was true!

The story on this one, as some rom hackers discovered, is that once you leave a vertical area via the top of the screen (instead of through a door like normal), the game’s adjacent blocks of data (often the horizontal stages) gets interpreted as vertical stages, creating entire worlds filled with enemies, terrain and paths. It’s a super dangerous place, lava is everywhere and there are pits you can’t get out of, pitfalls that you can’t climb out of. Some journeys into the secret worlds only last a few screens before you by a dead end or die, others can go on for hours. There is of course, no goal, or way to return from them. There are similar bugs to be exploited with Metroid II and Super Metroid, but its amazing how substantial the secret worlds can be on the original.

 

Megaman II – Airman Glitch

 

This one actually happened to me and freaked me out. If you use Item-1 to climb back up to the door in Airman’s boss room, you somehow scroll to the right into a trippy version of Airman’s level. The story here is that the developers probably never thought anyone would try to go back out the “in” door when they fought airman. It’s normally out of Megaman’s jumping range, but with the Item-1 you can do that. Then you once again get data read with the wrong tiles, an all kinds of weirdness.

Minecraft – The Far Lands

 

Minecraft generates its world based on an algorithm. Notch never imagined anyone would end up 32 million blocks away from the game’s starting point. At this point, the integer rounding errors start to throw things off. The normally serene and simple terrain of Minecraft starts to distort into a densely packed and twisted world filled with crazy patterns, finally ending in a gigantic “swiss-cheese” wall, beyond which rocks stretch off into eternity. Why does it remind me of Inception?

Most people get here by using a hack or cheat to teleport out to this area. However, one man is walking there, in a surprisingly interesting youtube show. You can read more about it here, it will take him years to walk to the Far Lands, but he’s committed.There’s a bunch more glitches like these in classic games. Post some of your favorites.

Gazapper Games releases Solar Rush with Beatscribe Sounds

IMG_4369.JPGGazapper Games continues outputting awesome android games based on classic zx spectrum titles. Their latest one is based on Transversion. It’s a great space game that tests your reflexes. It seems simple at first but this simple strategy title’s difficulty escalates quickly.

Gazapper Games’ titles are rooted in the retro gaming style of the early generation of consoles, but they wanted to take the music a bit forward from the spectrum with some Genesis style 16-bit vibes. Get it today!

Kickstarter: Brad Smith To Release NES Game on Actual Cartridge

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I am quite possibly one of Brad Smith’s biggest fans. His complete cover of The Dark Side of the Moon on a NES cart is always in regular rotation on my playlist. Brad is putting his chiptune and professional game development experience to work on a brand new game for the NES called Lizard. He’s running a Kickstarter here and it’s a project I’d really like to see succeed. The demo thus far reminds me of Legacy of the Wizard, Metroid and Little Nemo. The video also hints at some different play modes and of course, we can expect quality chip tunes. Pledge today!

Aeon Genesis Completes 10-year Project of Translating NES Classic Lagrange Point

In a translation work that took almost 10 years, Aeon Genesis has completed their translation of Konami’s 8-bit NES sci-fi 1991 RPG Masterpiece Lagrange Point.

Lagrange Point is one of the most advanced NES games ever to come out. On a technical level, it uses Konami’s VRC7 sound chip to create FM synthesis on the original NES. While not all the tune are super memorable, they have a character all their own and the FM Synths really lend themselves to the games space theme.

Ironically, the VRC7 inclusion is probably what kept the game out of the USA. Its $78 price tag in 1991 was pretty nuts for a video game. People did get what they paid for with this game. It has a great story that makes you care a lot more than your average 8-bit RPG.

There aren't many Sci-Fi RPGS on the NES, let alone with FM Synthesis soundtracks!

There aren’t many Sci-Fi RPGS on the NES, let alone with FM Synthesis soundtracks!

Game-wise, Lagrange Point plays like a futuristic Final Fantasy 1. It has some features that are far ahead of its time, such as a weapon forging system. Have two decent weapons, meld them together in the factory and get something even better. The colorful graphics are a treat and the “flying corridor” battle backgrounds really draw you into the game. There are 3 different kinds of playable characters; humans, cyborgs and robots. Each have their own attributes and weapon types. There are 10 playable characters in all who can be swapped in and out of your 4-person team.

Lagrange Point does suffer from a lot of the 8-bit RPG downfalls. You will be fighting a lot of repetitive battles. Even the auto-battle function doesn’t help you stave off the annoyance of this. However, the story keeps you going to see what happens next. If you loved Phantasy Star, you will like Lagrange Point.

Here’s what you’ll need to play it.

The Original Rom (just Google search for it)
Aeon Genesis’ Patch
IPS to Apply the Patch
NES Emulator (I recommend FCEUX since it can play the FM music which some emulators can’t)

Enjoy!