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We’ve already written about new games help to renew interest in chiptunes, with epic soundtracks accompanying challenging new titles that don’t need a developer team of thousands and a full orchestra to create the soundtrack.
New games help bring back the magic of the classic era. But sales are usually quite small bar a few mega-successful titles. To help boost sales along, developers are also looking at small production run physical copies with extras (maps, plushies, statues and other goodies) plus vinyl limited edition releases to maximise their revenue.
This helps both the music artists and the developers raise their profile as collectability is high. It can also help attract a big name musician to a project as they likely get a larger cut of the profits. Take for example, the recently announced 198x, an almost Funded Kickstarter project that mixes up some classic arcade game types.
Check out the trailer for 198x and it’s haunting first soundtrack, but expect a great deal of chiptunery for the in-game audio.
The Hi-Bit team has managed to attract legendary video game composer Yuzo Koshiro returns to his chip-based roots with brand new, retro-inspired music for ”198X”. Responsible for the likes of Streets of Rage, Actraiser, and Revenge of Shinobi he is known as a King of FM synthesis chiptunes.
Revenge of the Chiptunes
Revenge of Shinobi and games of that era helped set the highest standards for gaming audio, with deep, haunting or tension-building tunes that linger in the minds of gamers today, helping build the nostalgia, while younger gamers get to discover these amazing audio soundscapes for themselves in new ways.
As more games provide vinyl as the ultimate listening platform for retro gamers, expect the old 12-inch album to continue its recovery among music fans, reaching the warm notes that CD and MP3 can’t quite reach.
Sega were notably ahead of their time when it came to audio production on their cutting edge System 16 hardware that powered the likes of Space Harrier. It came with two audio variants, a YM2151 running at 4 MHz with SegaPCM sound 15.625 kHz and the higher specification YM2203 that could drive SegaPCM at 31.250 kHz for improved quality.
Yuzo Koshiro and Hiroshi Kawaguchi (Space Harrier, Out Run, Enduro Racer and Sonic the Hedgehog) were among Sega’s audio stars. As part of the company, rather than most western composers who went from freelance job to job, they had a stellar legacy of games to their names.
Both are still active, with Kawaguchi recently working as producer on the soundtrack to the Yakuza series for Sega. Koshiro founded Ancient Corp with other musicans to work on games, TV and movie music, working on Shenmue (making a comeback) and now 198x.
Listening to Greatness the Way It Wasn’t Meant To Be Heard
Alongside all the new retro music, classic games are also getting a fresh listen with vinyl releases of legendary gaming soundtracks. For information on your favorite game, check out the video game vinyl reddit for the latest news on the likes of Quake, Space Harrier, After Burner along with modern games like Retro City Rampage, that should all have a place on a collector’s shelves.
Isn’t it odd that digital music is now going vinyl to find a new audience? The fight back against as-a-service and not owning the things we buy is gaining momentum. Physical releases of even formerly-only-digital content including games and music help the creators earn money for their work and help bring the whole system full circle.
Whatever the music, from minimalist chiptunes to multi-layer synthesizer pieces. The growing interest in gaming culture and the music integral to the game can be enjoyed in isolation, in more ways than ever. If you want to jump on some retro vinyl, check out stores like Iam8bit for gaming music from all eras. Start picking up Limited Editions as an investment as well as the best way to enjoy gaming history.