Tag Archives: chiptune

Game On

For a lot of colleges and universities, the fall semester is coming to a close.  Student term papers are almost due, and for their professors, the real work of winter writing projects begins on the other side of just one more grading marathon.

You’ve done the research and collected the data.  The terms are defined, and the points are in order.  The office is uncluttered, the desktop cleared, and the coffee’s brewed and poured.  Now close the door and don the headphones because at last it’s just you, the blinking cursor, and some sweet music to write to.

Daft Punk, “End of Line” [Buy the soundtrack to Tron Legacy]

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How many Skyroads must Seeland and Computer Magic walk down?

If you pressed me for my favorite video game and I wanted to “impress” you with an “original” answer, I’d hem and haw and mention, somewhat disingenuously, SkyRoads, a highly addictive spaceship jumping game from Estonia for MS Dos, circa 1993. Yes: originality of favorite video game is something I think could “impress” people. And yes, I’m mega-excited to find out that there’s now a clone version available for Windows, Mac, and Linux called Tasty Static. And yes: it’s a miracle I’m not single.

But if you were to ask me about my favorite music from a video game, I wouldn’t have to be disingenuous at all: Skyroads takes the cake by a sky-mile. Luckily, creator Bluemoon has a page with all the music from the game. Here’s “Road One,” complete with the “running out of oxygen” warning sound at :44 that still makes my palms sweat.

Ott M. Aaloe, “Skyroads Road One”


Given my (only vaguely poseur-ish) love of all things SkyRoads, it should be no surprise that whenever I find a sonic analogue I’m prone to fall in love. I ranked the debut album of Seeland, an offshoot from the beautifully icy Broadcast, as one of my notable albums from 2009 in no small part because opener “Burning Pages” fit right into SkyRoads’ palette. They have a new album, not quite as strong but still good IMHO, which you can stream to the right.

Seeland, “Burning Pages” [Buy]
Seeland, “Black Dot, White Spider” [Buy]

Newly released “Get a Job” from Brooklyn’s one-woman Computer Magic (unsigned for what I suspect is a very brief moment) also fits into the SkyRoads universe. Her Soundcloud is full of great tracks, all “demos” at this point. And really, computers are magic. Fact. Does not hurt that she’s just a shade on the foxy side. Skyroads + Foxy Lady = Swoon. Whom am I kidding? Skyroads + Anything = Swoon. “Victory Gin,” although not very SkyRoads-y, is also excellent.

Computer Magic, “Victory Gin”

Get a Job by Computer Magic

Video game nerd bonus: If Tugboat‘s 8-bit versions of hip hop hits doesn’t make you glitch out, well, then, you, sir, are probably not a virgin.

Tugboat, “Remix Medley” [via Bridging the Verse]

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"And then you can jam to the loop."

Swedish geek, Linus Åkesson, recently re-purposed an old organ to be an 8-bit synthesizer for live chip-tune playing.  He calls it a “chipophone.”

While I find the idea of imposing strict technological constraints on making music a compelling one, I’ve never thought to venture very far into the vast, amateur swamps of chip music.   But for a certain cohort of boys who grew up in the 80’s, these sounds fondly recall many many frustrating and happy hours.

And here’s an older video of a guy playing the theme to “The Legend of Zelda” on a theremin.  I really the minimal, otherworldly vibe:

And lastly, here’s another dude playing the theme to “Super Mario Bros.” on a classical guitar.  There are a million of these on youtube, but this is probably the best:

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