Welcome to GamesRadar's daily blast of all things pertaining to the ever-growing field of game music. Each post will introduce new sounds, games, composers and fan-made remixes of gaming's greatest aural achievements.
April 14, 2010
Game: Blast Corps
Song: Simian Acres
Composer: Graeme Norgate
The mid-to-late 90’s were crazy times, children. Our controllers were inextricably bound by wires, people engaged in video-free “sexy chat” on Prodigy bulletin boards, and the whole world was jammin’ out on “battery” powered “Walk Mans,” that played spinning data off of physical pancakes once known throughout the universe as Compact Discs!
Above: The beginning of the end
Yes, we can confirm there was a time when discs didn’t exclusively contain Halo, and CDs were the preferred musical format for consumers, musicians, and yes, game developers. Discounting the myriad of other reasons for the purpose of this column, the CD was an ideal platform for VG music composers. Instead of being confined to a particular hardware chipset, just about any sound could be crunched inside a CD, including newly arranged orchestral scores and chart topping licensed music.
Above: Blast Corps - I'm getting to it!
Unfortunately, the Nintendo 64 didn’t get the memo. Whether it was due to proprietary greed or fear of piracy, disc-based games were just another revolution Nintendo dragged its heels on. As a result, the N64 was the last system to feature traditional, non-ironic “game music,” during a time when every other home console was cranking out punk songs and thud-bumpy techno from recognized recording artists. However, this wasn’t the sad finale in the proud history of chiptunes you might expect. The few N64 compositions that wrangled every last drop of melodic majesty from the advanced arsenal of bleeps and bloops remain some of the finest game music ever made. Nintendo itself plodded on commendably, yet it was Rare that emerged as the MIDI equivalent of Mozart.
Above: With the possible exception of this...
Apologies for the blowhard history lesson, but I could write a whole article on my love of Rare music (and these Game Music columns are primarily the domain of Brett Elston, so gimme a sec!) It’s probably got a lot to do with the astounding quality and longevity inherent in the gameplay, but the mere mention of the name GoldenEye, Diddy Kong Racing, Banjo-Kazooie, or in this case, Blast Corps, conjures a corresponding tune in my head. Today, most games feature a linear structure that doesn’t lend itself well to wildly divergent level themes, but Rare’s always did, and the tunes admirably followed suit.
Above: In Blast Corps you had to bulldoze a path for a runaway truck carrying sensitive nuclear missiles
Which (finally!) brings me to Blast Corps, a game chock full of wonderfully synthetic sounds we’d never heard before - because the instruments didn’t actually exist. They had to be replicated, and no one approximated musical tools of the trade better than Rare, specifically Graeme Norgate, and the foot-tappin’, bumpkin jam “Simian Acres” symbolizes everything I love about how varying game soundtracks could be.
Above: Peep that badass Japanese box art (and alternate title)
Whereas a large part of the Blast Corps features dramatic flare that could’ve easily found its way into GoldenEye (also Norgate,) “Simian Acres” replicates a full on hilbilly hoedown, complete with banjo pluckin’, jew harp boingin’ and fake fiddlin’ aplenty! If you’ve listened to GR's dumbass show, TalkRadar (and you really should!) you’re probably aware of the ditty, ‘cause we play it all the damned time. It’s easily confused for “Cotton Eyed Joe” by Rednex (as the lovely Veronica Belmont did in TalkRadar 92) but it isn’t… It’s actually better!
If you’d like to know more about Blast Corps, feel free to visit the Official Japanese site which somehow still exists!
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