19 September 2012

Episode 99: Air and Sky

In Episode 99, Brent and Rob focus on music from levels and parts of video games related to air, clouds, and the sky.  And if you run in to any trouble while listening to this episode, don't worry, just call the Air Police!  Full track listing below.

Game - Composer - Song - Company - Console - Year (North American release unless otherwise indicated)

Tales of Phantasia - Motoi Sakuraba, Shinji Tamura, Ryota Furuya - Aviators - Namco/Wolf Team - Super Famicom - 1996

Contra: Hard Corps - Hiroshi Kobayashi (H. Devi Kobayashi), Akira Souji (Akiropito), Kenji Miyaoka, Michiru Yamane (Chiru2 Yamane), Akira Yamaoka (Gajokai), Hirofumi Taniguchi (Nitachigu) - Zephyr - Konami - Genesis - 1994

Devilish: The Next Possession - Hitoshi Sakimoto - Stage 4: Air Passage - Sage's Creation/Aisystem Tokyo - Genesis - 1992

Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster Busts Loose! - Kazuhiko Uehara, Yukie Morimoto - Buster Sky-Jinks - Konami - SNES - 1993

Wonder Boy - Shinichi Sakamoto - Bonus - Sega/Escape - Sega Master System - 1987

World of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck - Haruyo Ogura (Lotty), Tomoko Sasaki (Maguro) - Level 2-1 - Sega - Genesis - 1992

Little Nemo: The Dream Master - Junko Tamiya - Cloud Ruins (Dream 6) - Capcom - NES - 1990

Super Mario Bros. 3 - Koji Kondo - Up Above - Nintendo - NES - 1990

EarthBound - Hirokazu Tanaka - The Sky Runner - Nintendo - SNES - 1995

Mega Man 7 - Yuko Takehara, Toshihiko Horiyama, Makoto Tomozawa - Cloud Man - Capcom - SNES - 1995

Pocky & Rocky - Hiroyuki Iwatsuki - Battle in the Sky - Natsume - SNES - 1993

Skyblazer - Harumi Fujita - Cliffs of Peril - Ukiyotei/Sony Imagesoft - SNES - 1994

Final Fantasy II - Nobuo Uematsu - Big Whale - Square - SNES - 1991

Wolverine - Geoff Follin - Trial By Air - LJN/Software Creations - NES - 1991

Kirby's Dream Land - Jun Ishikawa - Bubbly Clouds - HAL Laboratory - Game Boy - 1992


  1. That's too bad about World of Illusion freezing on you. If it's any consolation, you were very close to the end! I recently got my hands on a Genesis and played through that game with my cousin, fun times. I'll have to see if I can snag Contra: Hard Corps for a decent price.

    I don't know what it is about sky levels in games, but they are usually fun and have very uplifting music. So much good stuff in this episode. From old favorites like Mega Man 7 to new discoveries like Buster Busts Loose, Skyblazer, and Wolverine --Have to check out those OSTs, now.

    I really love it when you guys break town the tracks and isolate certain channels. It makes me hear the tracks in a new way. For instance, I never noticed the bass line on the Earthbound track before despite playing through the game numerous times.

    Great episode all arou-- What was that up in the sky!? A bird? A plane? No...

    It's THE AIR POLICE!!!

    1. Yeah, this was a good episode!

      I'm glad Wolverine got played. I suggested that track, along with others to the BOIZZZ many moons ago (maybe it was just F. Switch I sent it to, I can't remember) but I'm glad to hear it pop up. I'd be curious to know if it was coincidence, or if it was because of my suggestion.

      A couple things about the Wolverine soundtrack:

      a) It's -very- short. You've got opening theme, interlevel jingle, game over, bonus room/name entry, end credits, and then exactly two level music themes, one for the odd numbered levels, and one for the even numbered levels. This one is the one from the even numbered levels, and in my opinion is the better of the two. I think the best track from the Wolverine soundtrack, though, is the bonus room/name entry theme. Man that's a rocker! As tight sounding as they get, strong, driving bass, wonderfully dissonant "chords" (the arpeggio affect that Brent doesn't like, but I do) and a dazzling "guitar" solo vaguely reminiscent of that breakdown in Edgar Winter's "Frankenstein". We got this game for Christmas of 1991, and I remember the soundtrack as a whole, and particularly the bonus round track blowing my mind at the time. It was so different than any NES soundtrack I had heard to date. So much fuller and richer sounding....like it was using extra hardware, though I never considered it from that angle back then, I was just like "Whoa! How are they getting the Nintendo to make such sounds?!" Even though the soundtrack is really short, and even though the game proper is a pretty meh game, this soundtrack will always be meaningful to me, not only as a Christmas memory, but because it was the first time I heard what the NES sound system could really do!

      b) Geoff Follin did work alone on Wolverine. And I think Wolverine clues us in to an interesting possibility. Most of Tim Follin's best works were tracks where he worked with his brother. Geoff working alone seems to sound more like the Tim and Geoff masterpieces than Tim working alone. I know Tim's solo career is more prolific than Geoff's, but I wonder if we're parading the wrong Follin brother through the streets, or at least, parading one when we should be parading both. Even with Tim's solo stuff, I wonder how much we can attribute to Geoff's influence. Hear me out: Tim's start in making game music is incredible: he had no formal music training, virtually no programming training, and was only 15 years old (b. 1970). His older brother, Geoff, (b. 19??) was a "real instruments" musician, and their older brother, Mike, I believe was his name, was a programmer (I think Geoff was too a little bit). So, though Tim was the first to publish game music, and published the most game music, I wonder if he gets too much credit, and Geoff too little. That's why in my itunes library, all the tracks done by one or the other or both (even if I know which one did which) are attributed to "Tim and/or Geoff Follin" as the artist.

      p.s. Also glad to hear the Contra Hard Corp track....sounds like Switch changed his mind about the soundtrack. This was one of the tracks I really liked as well, and I remember this scene from the game.

    2. You might be on to something, there... After listening to Wolverine, I can probably say a lot of my favorite Geoff / Tim Follin tracks were possibly written by Geoff. We may have another Satoe Terashima / Kinuyo Yamashita incident on our hands... Only Geoff Follin actually gets some credit. Then again, their styles could just be extremely similar -- they are related, after all. Either way, I find it rather unfortunate that both have ceased making video game music -- modern games could use some more of that Follin Bros punch!

      And don't get my wrong, Yamashita is one of my favorite composers, I just think credit should be given where it's due.

  2. I had a few thoughts while listening to this episode:

    1. I kinda wish you guys had time to release music only playlists for the episodes, available as separae downloads. I only say that because sometimes the tracks have a good mixtape type flw, if that makes sense. I do love the conversation, but you know.

    2. Have you guys ever considered maybe breaking down and doing ONE episode of preexisting music and getting it over with? For example te Goonies 2 Cyndi Lauper song is better han the Cyndi Lauper version, Smooth Criminal s better on Genesis than on Bad...Most classical music sounds better as 8 bit than it does with an orchestra. I know there are rules. But If you could devote time to beyond 16 bit mysic, why not one measly cover songs episode?

  3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9qHuwtc4EQ

    Was listening to this today and thought it's a hidden gem of a soundtrack.

    Great ep as usual!

  4. Great episode as usual. These always brighten up my day and make for great listening on long drives.

    One thing you guys mentioned about Earthbound's Skyrunner sounding like The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again" is funny because that song is one of many reasons that many people suspect that will never get a stateside rerelease.


    If you look through this link they'll make mention of that track and several other songs with possible song quoting in that game. Since you guys often talk about not playing video game arrangements of none video game songs this link has some interesting correlations.

    Can't wait for episode 100 next week. Congratulations guys.

  5. Great episode as always.
    Have you guys ever considered playing classic computer music from the 8 and 16 bit era as well? I'm think MD/SNES/NES/tg-16 plus the handhelds is just too restrictive.

    1. It would've been neat to have had some dedicated computer gaming platforms, such as C64 / Amiga / ZX Spectrum music on the show, but I can also understand why they would want to stick to consoles/handhelds: there's a lot of oddball fringe things out there on the computer gaming side that would be very hard to keep up with (especially if they went for non-homogenous platforms like DOS/Windows).

      At the very least, we need a Computer gaming focus episode, like we've had "Beyond 16-bit."

      However, there is one platform that fits the bill of being genuinely 16-bit, and fits the bill of being a console, and fits the bill of living and dying within the era these boys play in that has been completely absent, which should not be....and that's the Neo Geo AES.....come on, BOIIIZZZ, where's the Neo Geo love?

    2. (note: my deleted post was this one. I meant to post it as a reply here, but posted it as a whole new comment thread by mistake.)

      About the AES sound system: It's not that much of a simplification to say that the Neo Geo soundsystem is literally a Genesis and a SNES rolled into one, with miracle grow, extra cowbell, and gasoline dumped on it. It's Yamaha YM2610 sound chip includes a 4 channel FM synthesizer, like the Genesis' 6 channel one. It's got a 4 channel General Instruments SSG built into the chip (-very- similar to the 4 channel Texas Instruments PSG chip in the Genesis - though the TI on the Genesis was a separate chip...and I've never heard the SSG functions utilized on the AES ), and it's got a 7 channel ADPCM sampler on-chip as well (SNES uses 8 ADPCM channels for its sound). From what I'm reading, it seems that 6 of those sampler channels are fixed frequency (sample frequency restriction, not pitch/tone restriction), while the 7th is like, uber, and can do much, much more.

      On a practical level, the AES had the capability to rival CD-Rom, and towards the end, most of the games went that route, largely abandoning FM voices, and small PCM samples for huge PCM samples, but especially in the earlier games, the AES used PCM samples that were comparable to SNES caliber samples, and used a lot of FM. If you listen to the early ones like "Magician Lord" and "Last Resort", for all accounts and purposes, you are being treated to an SNES/Genesis duet. In fact, in one song on the last resort soundtrack, you even get a PCM/FM call and response. In Magician Lord, you get PCM drums, FM bass, PCM ambient, and a mix of PCM and FM melody and harmony voices. I'll try posting some links in a separate post.

    3. The Last Resort Track with the call and response. It's in the upper register, there's a call and response. The second voice is -definitely- FM. The first voice, I'm pretty sure is not FM. The percussion in this track is PCM, the bass is FM. There's a low register PCM voice that occurs at about the 28 second mark, does it's thing twice, and goes away. It comes back at 55 seconds, but this time on its second pass, it is joined by a really nice, meaty, low register FM voice.


      You might hear this and think: St. John's mistaken, this is from the Neo Geo CD version...nope, it's AES. Here's the NGCD version for cross-reference:


      Here's another Last Resort AES track for good measure:


      Now, Last Resort does use a bit higher class PCM than you'd hear on a SNES. Magician Lord is a launch title, and I feel like it's PCM is much closer to what SNES used. Here's stages one, two, and three respectively. These will truly sound like SNES vs Genesis duets.

      These are the ones that I think will really impress you BOIZZZ!

      They all feature PCM drums, FM bass, PCM ambient, and a mix of PCM and FM for the rest. In the stage two track, there's a "breakdown" at about the 54 second mark that's pretty neurotic (I'd almost call it "farty" sounding)....it's FM. And if you listen to the Adventures of Batman and Robin soundtrack on the Genesis you will hear "farty' sounds very much like it.




  6. This comment has been removed by the author.