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 Post subject: Re: Best soundtrack?
PostPosted: Thu Dec 27, 2018 9:36 pm 
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Yeah it's pretty much to the point where anytime someone makes a first post, unless it was obviously written for NESdev, you can google search the text and often find these are just copied from posts on reddit. edit: And many times the posts are copied from elsewhere in the NESdev forum. Sneaky bastards.


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 Post subject: Re: Best soundtrack?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2018 7:22 am 
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nesrocks wrote:

ccovell wrote:
Many years ago (like in 1999-2000), I conducted a similar poll to the one above, and the results still match up pretty well:

http://www.chrismcovell.com/poll.html


Ok it's pathetic answering to this spambot, but since the harm was done anyway...

It's funny seeing Solstice title screen coming up multiple times among the "best NES song"... I really didn't expect it ! I like this song, and what makes it more awesome is that for the first 5 seconds or so it sound completely shitty, which makes you except a very subpar song... and then everything explodes with arpeggios all over the place and very cool sounding theme ! Tim Follin really outdid himself there.

What I'm sad however is to never see anywhere Battletoads (and to a lesser extent it's sequel Battletoads & Double Dragon) mentioned. It really has some of the best songs for the platform.


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 Post subject: Re: Best soundtrack?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2018 7:34 am 
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In-game, the first eight seconds or so of the Solstice OP are the jingle for "CSG Imagesoft Presents". The title screen fades in right when the arps cut in, and if this TAS is to be believed, the sequence is unskippable. I imagine players processed the two as two separate pieces of music, like the coin sound when you turn on Super Mario World or Super Mario Kart, or the simple fanfare when you turn on Rampart, or the contrast between the Capcom jingle and the rock OP to Super Street Fighter II, or the movie studio's logo and a movie's OP, or indeed the boot logo of consoles made by Sony Interactive Entertainment (CSG Imagesoft's successor) and the game's actual title screen.

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 Post subject: Re: Best soundtrack?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2018 12:14 pm 
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I don't have a favorite overall soundtrack, but from the top of my head, there are 3 NES songs that really stand out for me:

- The title screen song from Layla;
- Wily Fortress theme from Mega Man 6;
- The bicycle training song from Punch-Out;


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 Post subject: Re: Best soundtrack?
PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2019 7:48 am 
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Meanwhile, I feel like an absolute vanilla newbie: my favorite NES OST is the one from the console's two LoZ games... But well, it may be because I've played these as a kid, and then as a young adult when the first LoZ game was released on the GBA, while most other classic NES games are things I've only experienced when getting into retrogaming a couple years ago.


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 Post subject: Re: Best soundtrack?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 09, 2019 3:10 pm 
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Mother/Earthbound Zero
MANIAC MANSION
GOONIES 2
JORDAN Vs. BIRD
Metal Gear: snake's revenge
MANIAC MANSION
OVERLORD

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 Post subject: Re: Best soundtrack?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 09, 2019 5:11 pm 
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You must really like Maniac Mansion! :lol:

Or maybe you listed the U and J versions separately, since they're completely different games.


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 Post subject: Re: Best soundtrack?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 10, 2019 1:57 am 
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It's hard, because my "technically superior, therefore, better" glasses are blinding me to a lot of well-composed but technically not as interesting soundtracks. I think Megaman 2 is a great example of that. Great tunes, but kind of generic instrumentation. Then again, it's kind of unfair to compare it to Tim Follin's techniques.
I'd have to make a separate list based on the technical achievements, and one based on the musicality of soundtracks.


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 Post subject: Re: Best soundtrack?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 10, 2019 2:19 am 
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It might just be me being skewed by what i heard first, but often feel some soundtracks that were originally composed for expansion chips were made better using just the mainboard channels for nes ports. This goes for most of the castlevania 3 soundtrack, and about 50/50 of the mr. gimmick soundtrack. One explanation is that they went over it a second time for the port, so they spent more time with their compositions. Another is that the more channels you have (and the more saturated they are, timbrally), the more apparent the lack of basic mixing utilities becomes - you have a limited range of practical volume settings with wide level gaps (especially as the highest ones are sort of useless for soundtracks), no EQ, and no stereo pan. The way the saw was overused in the famicom version of castlevania 3... the overtones makes the the rest of the sound picture muddy and eventually it wears my ears down.

For this reason, if i'm to compose an expansion chip soundtrack at one point, i've decided i'll mostly use it to provide additional echo and chorus effects (and these echo/chorus channels are the ones that get overwritten by game sound effects, instead of main tones). If i'm to use saws, it'll mostly be to provide an attack stage as a component of a composite voice, or just sometimes a short lead passage.

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 Post subject: Re: Best soundtrack?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 10, 2019 2:39 am 
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Bregalad wrote:
What I'm sad however is to never see anywhere Battletoads (and to a lesser extent it's sequel Battletoads & Double Dragon) mentioned. It really has some of the best songs for the platform.

I enjoy the Battletoads soundtrack, but what especially tickles me is recognizing David Wise's signature sound, which I have always enjoyed. It's especially strong in the second stage Wookie Hole, which sounds right out of DKC2.
David Wise is absolutely one of the most talented video game musicians out there (Tropical Freeze is a straight up contender for best VG OST ever created), but I feel that Battletoads came out slightly before he truly found his thing, and managed to move beyond simplistic structures. There's some nice aspects to some of the tracks, but I can't think of a single one on the OST that really stands out. Which is your favourite?

FrankenGraphics wrote:
It might just be me being skewed by what i heard first, but often feel some soundtracks that were originally composed for expansion chips were made better using just the mainboard channels for nes ports. This goes for most of the castlevania 3 soundtrack, and about 50/50 of the mr. gimmick soundtrack. One explanation is that they went over it a second time for the port, so they spent more time with their compositions. Another is that the more channels you have (and the more saturated they are, timbrally), the more apparent the lack of basic mixing utilities becomes
(...)

I kind of get that with Mr Gimmick. A lot of people tend to pass off the PAL release as a downgrade of the music, but it's the only version of the game I have played, and it still sounds amazing and unlike anything else on the NES, even with the stock soundchip. I don't know if I'd say it's an improvement, but it's definitely perfectly servicable.

It's hard for me to agree on CV3 though. I can see where you're coming from, but there are just entire layers of songs that are completely missing in the non-expansion-chip version. A track like the clock tower one is just much less interesting. They are still all good, though.


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 Post subject: Re: Best soundtrack?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 10, 2019 3:02 am 
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yeah, i do like some of the more mellow / slow tempoed Akumajou Densetsu a bit more (such as "demon seed"); i think these songs have the space to allow for a richer sound palette. For me, the clocktower song is a draw. I like both.

You can hear that they've fine chiseled some melodies more in the us/eu version, probably as compensation for lacking the ability to portray chords. But in regards to chords, beside the blues influence it's a bit like bach (or mid-early depeche mode, for a more modern example): much of castlevania 3:s music is driven by contrapuntal movements which really only require a harmony between two notes to inform the mood, even when there are more notes happening. Those two notes were very well selected for the rearrangement.

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 Post subject: Re: Best soundtrack?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 10, 2019 3:06 am 
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Quote:
It might just be me being skewed by what i heard first, but often feel some soundtracks that were originally composed for expansion chips were made better using just the mainboard channels for nes ports. This goes for most of the castlevania 3 soundtrack, and about 50/50 of the mr. gimmick soundtrack.

The (scandinavian) NES version of the Gimmick soundtrack is butchered down. It was dowgraded very poorly. Sometimes the melody is completely missing and only the accompainment plays... sometimes they use the second square channel for unnecessary echo only, while a very important musical track was removed entierely.

Fortunately this is not the case with Castlevania III where both version of the soundtrack sounds great, despite the NES version having less tracks - 3 melodic tracks instead of 5. I think it's wrong to assume the music for CV3 has been a dumbed down version of those composed for Akumajo Densetsu - maybe they composted the NES version first, and later decided to use the VRC6 with sound expansion which enabled them to redo the soundtrack using more channels for the famicom version. We'll never know for sure unless there's a reliable testimony from someone at Konami.

Quote:
Which is your favourite?

My favourite song in Battletoads is the Silver Surfer stage, reused for Terra Tubes, but I really like the other songs as well.


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 Post subject: Re: Best soundtrack?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 10, 2019 3:12 am 
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i honestly think there's musical evidence of further elaboration in the (u/e) cv3 soundtrack. They might've worked on it in parallel or prepared for the port with good arrangement planning, but there is little sense in removing the fine details worked into the mainboard side that are exclusive to the us/eu port, so i find it more likely they sat down and went over it again, than that they developed the u/e version of the soundtrack and then added the j voices on top. I'll eat my hat if i have to, but i feel convinced this was the case. It just so happens that the style of pseudo baroque music (even if fused with blues/rock) plays very well with two contrapuntal voices, which the nes can readily do without expansion sound. Most tones in the (j) version are redundant to the function of the melodies. They just add an extra layer of frosting on the cake - maybe this is an argument for the 'careful planning' theory, but i think the nature of the musical style simply is lucky to work well on both versions and that the functionally redundant extras could be easily removed.

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 Post subject: Re: Best soundtrack?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 10, 2019 3:59 am 
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Bregalad wrote:
maybe they composted the NES version first, and later decided to use the VRC6 with sound expansion which enabled them to redo the soundtrack using more channels for the famicom version. We'll never know for sure unless there's a reliable testimony from someone at Konami.

Frankengraphics obviously knows a ton more about music theory than I do, so I won't argue with her points, but I honestly wouldn't be surprised if this turned out to be true. If the soundtrack is composed by an experienced NES/FC composer, it makes sense to start out with limitations familiar to them.


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 Post subject: Re: Best soundtrack?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 10, 2019 4:19 am 
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Well it's not unreasonable either. Even almost (imo) as plausible. I just have a feeling it was the other way around listening to it. Using a tracker today, i'd do something similar - start with the functional voices, bass first, then fill in extras. But if i had done something in the late 80s, i'd probably write the first draft with the help of a piano or synthesizer first (preferrably one with an onboard midi recorder, such as several yamaha synthesizers had at that time) or use a standalone midi recorder unit, then transcribe that to a format the music engine can understand. But i have no clue what music software (or hardware) they actually had. If using a piano or synthesizer for the first draft, adding less functionally important layers just comes naturally on the fly.

To me, the music sounds like it may at least in part have been written with the help of a live instrument (tracker music tends imprint its composing style on the music with distinct blocks, rhythmic stiffness, and note cramming) but it might just be that the composer(s) was(were) really good at not letting the tracker shine through the arrangement.

Moving the bass between tri and saw channels, i don't feel there's a way that is simpler than the other - moving a saw bass to the triangle channel or moving a tri bass to the saw channel. seems like equal amounts of work.


bregalad wrote:
The (scandinavian) NES version of the Gimmick soundtrack is butchered down. It was dowgraded very poorly.

This is probably exactly where my "what i heard first is better" bias comes in, and why i prefer some arrangements in the SCN version. It works the same way with covers for me. If i hear the cover first, i might prefer it to the original.

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Last edited by FrankenGraphics on Wed Apr 10, 2019 4:37 am, edited 2 times in total.

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