Monday, 21 September 2009

Music Makes the Game: Back in the days of the Spectrum...

I know this isn't IBM compatible stuff, but like the Megadrive entry, there's emulators so I reckon I can get away with it! It's terribly "youtube heavy" too, so appologies for that...

Back when I was 8 I had a spectrum, a "128k Spectrum +2" to be exact, with everything neatly packed away into the keyboard. In fact, I've still got it!

It sits on a shelf behind me with 2 others I collected, doing nothing other than reminding me how far we've come in 20+ years. Occasionally I open it up (by accident, the screws are missing!) and check out the ancient parts before reminding myself that they are still in use in Russia! (aparantely?)

Anyway, back in those days I played a ton of games. An unbelievable amount. My brother has a huge bin sack full of the tapes somewhere, all of which can be found online these days, but I thought I'd share some of the more memorable games I played, in the form of their music. The Spectrum 48k only had 1 channel sound, but some clever chaps managed to squeeze 2 channels out of it. The 128k had 3 channels which some people managed to get 4 out of! Amazing!

Many games had very limited and basic music and sound back then but there were some that stood out to me.

Firstly, here's Gun Runner by Hewson games back in '87 with quite a catchy ditty:

The game itself wasn't too much to shout about, but I always, always remembered that music.

Next up down memory lane is Dizzy, oh woe is me for the number of Spectrum users who never came across Dizzy (yes, you know who you are!) He was the thinking man's Chuckie Egg, chosing to solve puzzles rather than just running around collecting keys (or whatever it was.)

Here's one of my favourite tunes from the series, from Treasure Island Dizzy (or Dizzy 2 as we called it back then)


Next we have the Spectrum "port" of OutRun the famous racing game that appeared in arcades and nearly every system at the time. This game took ages, and ages...and ages to load on the Spectrum. Oh how we envied disc based computers at the time.

Anyway, this music therefore is a cover of the original as best as the composer could do with the Spectrum sound chip...which isn't too bad!


(I highly recommend looking for the original too!)

Finally, and I'll try not to go too far back in gaming history again on this blog, take a gander at this Amiga music version of "Rainbow Islands". Another game that I had on the spectrum (can't find a decent enough video of just the music) that I always remembered because of the music.



The point I'm making about the music that was in these games is that it's themed and memorable. This is something that's missing from a shed load of PC games these days.

I'm not suggesting every developer runs out to hire Jeremy Soule, or Alexander Brandon, or Nobuo Uematsu and I'm not sure if the problem is that publishers are restricting creative freedom (doesn't sound probable?) but I've played almost 10 different games in the last fortnight and I can't recall any of the music right now.

I hope this doesn't continue!

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