05 August 2015

Episode 167: Computer Game Music

For years, the boizz have avoided a whole faction of game music that is somewhat similar to video game music, but also quite different: computer game music.  Often times, people think that VGM and CGM are the same thing, but they're not exactly, and the Legacy Music Hour was created to showcase video game music, particularly from the 8-bit and 16-bit era.  But, for this one time only episode, Brent and Virtua Rob (the boizz are back) finally take a journey through music from games for the Commodore 64, Macintosh, PC, and more, and also stay fairly close to the time period that coincides with the third and fourth generation of video games.  So to mark Rob's new form, here's a very unusual edition of the Legacy Music Hour.  Full track listing below.

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

Tropic Island - unknown - Main BGM - momodera’s BRAND - Macintosh - 1996

2400 A.D. - Jeroen Tel - gameplay - Origin - Commodore 64 - 1988 (unreleased)

Quarth - Tomoya Tomita, Shigehiro Takenouchi, Mansan, Norio Hanzawa - BGM B-A - Konami - MSX - 1990

The Light Corridor - Alberto José González - Alien (In-Game Theme Music 1) - New Frontier/Infogrames - ZX Spectrum - 1991

Leisure Suit Larry 6: Shape Up or Slip Out! - Dan Kehler - The Health Spa (Char Donay) (Hard is Good, Right?) - Sierra - PC - 1993

Speedball - David Whittaker - Title Screen - The Bitmap Brothers/Imageworks - Atari ST - 1998 (Europe)

The 7th Guest - George Sanger - Downstairs Puzzles - Trilobyte/Virgin Interactive - Macintosh - 1993

Green Beret - Martin Galway - Loader - Imagine Studios/Konami - Commodore 64 - 1986

Tetris Max - Peter Robert Wagner - Peter Wagner Music (T-Maxx) - Steve Chamberlin - Macintosh - 1993

Gauntlet III - Tim Follin, Geoff Follin - Title Screen - Software Creations/U.S. Gold - Commodore 64 - 1992

Sanxion - Rob Hubbard - Loader (Thalamusik) - Thalamus - Commodore 64 - 1986

Beyond the Ice Palace - David Whittaker - Main Theme - Elite - Amiga - 1988

Kono Yo no Hate de Koi wo Utau Shoujo: YU-NO - Ryu Umemoto, Ryu Takami, Kazuhiro Kanae - Bonds - Elf - PC-98 - 1996

StarRay - Nirto K. Fischer - Title Screen - Hidden Treasures/Logotron - Atari ST - 1988 (Europe)

Hot Rod - Jeroen Tel - Intro - Activision - Commodore 64 - 1990


  1. So good to hear the boiz back 2gether!

  2. Thanks for the bonk tracks and elite banter, boiz. I feel like there is a show and tell /Jeroen Tel joke waiting to be made here

  3. I can't tell you how impressed I was that you got the Tetris Max music. This brought back a lot of beautiful memories. Thanks for digging through the resource files for these (even though you didn't have to).

  4. Virtual Rob! or the Guanaco Max Headroom!

  5. Brent, is that movie you were talking about with a kick to the face and the "pretty good" is Best of the Best starring Eric Roberts?

  6. Great episode! I am really liking the sound of the Commodore 64. Rob sounds great, it's almost like he's actually there with you guys, with the exception of the very slight delay. Kudos to 'Atari ST' (Studio Trevor) and The Gabe for making it happen!

    1. I second this! Among the other great things about the episode, it just sounded and felt like an LMH episode with two of the "most relaxing voices in podcasts" as (I think) Gabe once said.

    2. This was actually my first impression of them when I first heard of LMH! I think I have an early iTunes review stating how relaxing their voices are.

      Would love to hear some more VGM Karaoke tracks!!! I am thinking about doing one too...

    3. Thanks Griffin! Please do some! I've got some in mind, and I hope to find the time soon.

      Oh yeah, and it was Trevor who said that and not Gabe on episode 150.

  7. Thanks for playing a Ryu Umemoto track!

    Not many people have heard of him because the games were obscure, adult-themed, and largely not released outside of Japan.

    YU-NO is mostly a visual novel, but also has elements of point and click adventure games. It really has an amazing story that takes over 50 hours to fully experience. The sex scenes are few and far between, and do nothing to detract from the great storytelling. It was well ahead of it's time for 1996, and it even contains voice-over work for most lines of dialogue.

    The entire thing can be watched on Youtube, if anyone is interested:


  8. My instinct says "Sanxion" is supposed to be pronounced like "sanction." Second pronunciation thought: having Google Translate say "Jeroen" as a Dutch word (Mr. Tel is Dutch) gets something like "yeh-roon," almost rhyming with "Sharon." I was going to post something about this in the comments for the last episode, but I had already posted three or four times before it crossed my mind.

    My favorite C64 tune is from the game Kinetix (aka Dynamix), but I'm not disappointed that it wasn't played, because it's 12 minutes long! It's another Jeroen Tel work. Check it out.

    Tim Follin's first work was on the ZX Spectrum, where he squeezed polyphony out of a speaker meant for beeps and buzzes. I think the quality of the sound would have excluded it from this episode anyway, but it's interesting to hear how proggy and weird he was even when just starting out in his mid-teens. If you search YouTube for his name and "1-bit" (including quotation marks) it's easy to find some good examples.

  9. I think the salutations movie Rob was thinking of was the classic hipster film, the Hunger Games.

  10. Wow, this episode was jams all around. My emotions can't wait for 2400 A.D. either -- that track was amazing!

    I've had 7th Guest sitting idly on my "games I need to play eventually" list for a few years, but it may have been bumped up in priority thanks to you guys. I had no idea how great its music was.

    The Gabe, I would never have known Rob and Brent were doing this remotely if they hadn't mentioned it specifically (or tried to sing along together). Seriously, thanks for making this happen.

    And that WordPerfect mention? I died. That was too funny.

    1. that's great to hear, thanks Key! And I really dig the VGM Jukebox btw.

    2. Aw, thanks The Gabe. We talk about how cool you are in episode 3.

  11. Phase 2 is here and it is good.

  12. Thanks for featuring me in a new great episode, guys. It's always an honor!
    About that "Alien" track, it was actually one of my first musical experiments, composed years before the game. I had no editor back then, and I wrote it, as many other musicians at that time, by typing the notes and commands directly into the sound driver's source code. Much in the same style as the tracks by David Whittaker, it consisted of some small fragments which were repeated, mixed and transposed several times to form a longer sequence. That way of making music not only produced tracks which were very memory efficient, but they also had a very special style.
    Hugs from Barcelona!

    1. Hello Mr. Gonzalez. I really loved that track you composed for The Light Tunnel. Was this using the original sound source of the Spectrum? I have heard that later versions added a real soundchip. Could you please confirm what this music is being played back on?
      Thank you.

    2. Hello Nick! Thanks. That track was composed for the ZX Spectrum models 128 and up, which had an AY-3-8912 sound chip.

      However, it's worth noting that the original sound chip had no stereo capabilities. Stereo is introduced via software emulation or hardware modification, but I prefer to listen to ZX Spectrum music in mono as it was originally intended. The sound chip voices blend and distort in a way that is completely lost when they are separated to provide the stereo effect.

      Earlier versions of the computer (16k, 48k and Plus) had no sound chip, only a buzzer intended to play simple beeps. For these I only composed one music, precisely for this game (Light Corridor): https://soundcloud.com/joemcalby/light-corridor-48k

      You'll find interesting facts about that track in the description ;)


    3. Thanks! Folin's work with the original Specy buzzer is pretty amazing. That was very interesting reading in that link.

  13. Nintendo 64 is nearly twenty years old. We are all #old.

  14. Wow, so many great platforms, and composers were represented here. What a great show. I have so many random thoughts about this one, I'm just typing them shotgun style. I'll try to keep it short.

    I loved the Tropic Island track. Never heard it before. Great "happy jazz" feel. I love the "crunchy" quality of the samples.

    Jeroen Tel is a master of the C64's SID chip. So many of his tracks are have very expressive, and lyrical leads. If anyone liked what they heard on this episode, there is TONS more that he composed for the C64.

    Speaking of the C64, the tracks from Rob Hubbard, The Follin Brothers, and Martin Galway were all outstanding. I just really love the SID chip sound, and the composers that made the most of it.

    Konami made some stunning output on the MSX, and Quarth is one I've never heard before.

    Tetris Max has to be the darkest sounding Tetris music I've ever heard! Nice.

    Someday I'll get around to playing the 7th Guest. I never knew it had music that good. I was too scared to play it as a kid.

    Like Brent, I was very much a Sierra fan. I played as many as I could get my hands on.

    Beyond The Ice Palace is for Amiga, but the sound samples seem to be directly recorded from the SID chip? Can anyone confirm this? I like it either way.

    YU-NO sounds like a very bittersweet goodbye. The overall sound is pretty cheesy, but I really love this. I want to hear it on loop for a while. It reminds me of Snatcher, BIG TIME.

  15. I can't begin to express my disappointment when Rob didn't play a "thriplet" of Lotus 123 tracks. I was really hoping to hear "Spreadsheet" on the show. ;)

  16. Oh wow. Just wow. The Apple Pippin received a reference :0 Easily the most obscure item ever referenced on the show. Seems like Apple can do no wrong today, but things wen't always that way:


  17. Boiz, if you see this post, check out the other track from 2400 A.D.


    This is some HOT STUFF!!!

  18. Anyone know where I can get a copy of the 2400 AD track? Been looking all over for it!

    1. http://se2a1.bigbox.info/soasc/index.php?sb=SOASC&p=5&did=

  19. Howdy, I'm "Peter Robert Wagner", the composer of the "T-Maxx" song featured in this episode. Just wanted to thank you for including the song! If anyone wanted to hear the original (uncompressed) version, you can hear it here (along with other super old compositions.


    Thanks again!

  20. Hey, I had to come back from the future, to say; I think the movie Brent was trying to think of was Best of the Best.