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Retro game music appreciation page

Posted: Thu Dec 28, 2017 11:53 am
by PresidentLeever
Latest updates: 1999 page, N64 page (includes 64DD), OPL4 page, OTIS/ES5505 page

(Thought it would be better to give this its own topic instead of hijacking the thread in General Gaming. Go ahead and move it to Off Topic if you think it's a better fit.)

Here's something I've been adding to for the past year or so. It's a page to highlight the achievements of composers and sound designers using old sound hardware, starting with music from 1980. Let me know if I've missed anything good (preferably from a game) or if you have any other thoughts on the page. I could also add shorter comments on particular OSTs. When it comes to the layout, weebly doesn't allow for much it seems (it's also pretty buggy) and I'm not very experienced, but suggestions are welcome.

The focus was previously on non-sample based synthesis chips, but I've recently expanded it to include the pre 32-bit era ones. Currently doing a 1996 page for the "by year" section.

Main Page
Yearly Lists Page

Re: Retro game music appreciation page

Posted: Thu Dec 28, 2017 1:02 pm
by marurun
So what are your qualifications or standards for these tracks? Simply “I liked it,” or are you looking at compositional structures and approaches or technological achievements with the hardware?

Re: Retro game music appreciation page

Posted: Thu Dec 28, 2017 2:53 pm
by PresidentLeever
I've looked mainly at technical achievement here (frequency range, dynamics, clarity, "punch", emulating effects like reverb, chorus and echo on the more primitive chips, sample quality, how closely a synth instrument resembles an acoustic one if that appears to be the goal, use of chip specific effects, if all available channels are used etc) but inventiveness in terms of genre or arrangement and using a chip/setup in an interesting way factors in too. So for example an early hip hop soundtrack among contemporary or traditional soundtracks, or one that sounds distinct due to some tricks like heavy use of arpeggios and mixing percussion and bass in the same channel (as became common on C64 for example) will rank higher unless there are some serious technical flaws.

For the yearly lists I've also prioritized for example a late 8-bit soundtrack that I find impressive although technically it doesn't stand a chance against some of the others from that year. This is for variety and so that for example GB soundtracks aren't completely buried way down in the lists as the SNES, Amiga and PC soundtracks start to dominate.

I try to keep my taste out of it; I'm not that big on most jazz, fusion, 90 dance or blues for example but will still rank those tracks highly if they are well executed. I am into punk, shoegaze, noise rock and industrial but I realize many people will just consider soundtracks that sound like those genres as noise.

Re: Retro game music appreciation page

Posted: Sat Dec 30, 2017 1:27 pm
by PresidentLeever
Another one down, three more to go. This year ended up relatively short, with only DOS gaming still going as strong as before out of the platforms I'm doing currently.

1996 page:

Re: Retro game music appreciation page

Posted: Wed Jan 03, 2018 11:02 pm
by PresidentLeever
A first draft for the 1997 page is done:

I think someone else might get through the entire list this time, it's been a while hehe.

Updated the SB PCM and SNES pages accordingly.

Re: Retro game music appreciation page

Posted: Wed Jan 10, 2018 3:25 pm
by PresidentLeever
So the SNES page is basically done:

Now's a good time to chime in before I finalize the layout (see the MD page for example). Use Ctrl+F to find a particular game, and don't forget the "best of the rest" page linked to below the top tier entries, in this case a top 300 since the SNES library is huge and a lot of games sound pretty good.

Re: Retro game music appreciation page

Posted: Fri Jan 12, 2018 2:29 pm
by PresidentLeever
Added a page for Konami's K054539 chip:

Maybe their most iconic arcade sampler chip but I can't seem to find any good info on it even on JP wikipedia.

Also added a page for the Seta X1-010 chip:

It sounds roughly comparable to the Amiga's or Mega CD's chips when used well.

Re: Retro game music appreciation page

Posted: Fri Jan 12, 2018 3:14 pm
by Xeogred
Commendable work, it seems like a big gamble to link so many youtube links though. My playlists get destroyed months over months with even the most obscure videos/tracks being taken down after awhile.

Too bad VGM topics are never too popular here. JT and I have made many in the past but they never last long.

Re: Retro game music appreciation page

Posted: Fri Jan 12, 2018 3:37 pm
by PresidentLeever
That recently happened with my main go to SNES music YT channel actually (RetroOST with no space, didn't know the guy). YT seems very inconsistent too, some popular tracks have been on there for like 10 years. In general the goal is real hardware recordings and I'm probably gonna look at hosting solutions for some standouts from the very best soundtracks at some point after I'm done, where it's doable and preferable anyway.

Thanks for having a look. It's kind of a niche thing in itself, don't get much of a response on other forums I visit either and people tend not to discuss game music as much, just post what they like or turn it into a guessing game. I guess because it's seen as a very subjective and taste oriented thing. Grounding it a bit with a technical focus seemed like a good idea and the best sounding ones tend to also have above average composition anyway so it should work as a decent guide for discovering some new music too if that's what you're interested in. The pages are getting 1-2k+ views a week when I'm posting updates so there is at least some interest. :)

Re: Retro game music appreciation page

Posted: Thu Feb 01, 2018 3:33 pm
by PresidentLeever
Added a page for the Oki MSM6295 chip:

After the top 3, quality goes downhill pretty quickly.