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.
Game: Chessmaster (SNES)
Song: Title Screen
Above: Chessmaster on the SNES getting very... conceptual
Listen carefully - you're hearing one of the worst game tracks ever created. Lovely, isn't it? It takes courage to put your head in a piece of PVC tubing and hum randomly while banging on a piano. I remembered it being bad, but when I heard it again while working on this article I feared that I had corrupted audio. I love it!
OK, I'm just pulling your rook. That catastrophe is just a silly jumping-off point for... a very special chess-themed edition of GMOTD! It's an odd theme, I know. Chess demands silent contemplation, and most sims feature little, if any, audio accompaniment. But several, specifically those on consoles, where not having a soundtrack would be weird, have featured fantastic beeps and boops.
More recent versions of Chessmaster open with relaxing, boring music, so I'll spare you that and jump back to an earlier time... the time of the Amstrad! Amstrad has been building computers since the word was invented - here's a track from a 1988 Camel Micros Amstrad game, GM Chess (right).
Above: GM Chess' uptempo, but melancholy theme music
That's one of my new favorite tunes. It's strangely sorrowful and moving for a song meant to convey strategic battle. Or... maybe there is something sad about chess?
Next up is a similarly contemplative tune from 1990's Battle Chess on the NES. The 8-bit medieval-themed track isn't anything unusually special, but it doesn't bore. Who could be bored by chess pieces that come to life?!
Above: The theme from Battle Chess (NES)
Alright, enough with the "looking out a rain-streaked window" songs. This next track is from a 1998 Genesis game simply titled "Chess." It's an strong track, if far too bouncy for any board game, especially chess.
Above: A great tune from an obscure Genesis game
I'll leave you with a track that isn't from a chess game, but hey, close enough - it's A-Class Mahjong, a 1988 game I discovered while playing with an MSX emulator. What's an MSX, you ask? Good question. You don't see many in Europe or North America, but oddly, the early computer was conceived in the '80s by the president of Microsoft Japan. And, in Japan, the pre-NES systems were popular gaming machines. Even Konami developed MSX games. Listen a few times and try not to tap your fingers to the Mahjong madness!
Above: Do dadada dooo!
Three GMOTDs in a row, I'm on a roll! I hope you've enjoyed this diversion from the usual format. Leave a comment and let me know what you think... what's your favorite track? Which chess simulators do you remember playing with as a kid? C'mon, we all loved to pretend we were going to be child prodigy grand masters... that wasn't just me, right?
Aug 18, 2010
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