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Column: Sound Current

Sound Current: 'Anamanaguchi's Guide to Scott Pilgrim: The Game Soundtrack'

April 27, 2011 12:00 PM |

[In his latest interview for GameSetWatch, Jeriaska catches up with chiptune band Anamanaguchi to discuss their contributions to the recent Scott Pilgrim game from Ubisoft, detailing the noted New York band's approach to the video game version of the movie and comic book series.]

Bitpop band Anamanaguchi emerged from the New York chiptune scene to widespread recognition around the time of the 2006 Blip Festival concert. Their live performances have since become a fixture of the bi-coastal Penny Arcade Expo events.

Shortly after Kotaku named the chiptune band most likely to break through, they were approached by Ubisoft to compose the music score for Scott Pilgrim vs the World: The Game. A 24-track soundtrack album resulted, the single largest Anamanaguchi release by volume to date.

The diverse influences of the soundtrack run from Miles Davis and Angelo Badalamenti to NES composer Kôzô Nakamura. Band members Peter Berkman and Luke Silas describe it as a mixture of turmoil and fun that remains on the positive side. The equation equally describes what fans associate both with the band's music and the tone of the Scott Pilgrim graphic novels.

In this interview we hear how the two musicians viewed Scott Pilgrim: The Game as making sense as an Anamanaguchi project. They also describe how the collaboration with band members James DeVito and Ary Warnaar complemented the game's distinctive sprite art by Paul Robertson.

Sound Current: Following Final Fantasy XIII, Composer Hamauzu Bound for Paris

April 15, 2011 12:00 PM |

Composer Masashi Hamauzu is the musician responsible for the score to Square Enix's Final Fantasy XIII, released last year for Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. Hamauzu has been keeping busy following the release of the role-playing game, which was in production for several years.

Having gone freelance, the composer of SaGa Frontier II has recently founded his own studio, named Monomusik. Music by the composer can be heard in the reveal trailer for Final Fantasy XIII-2, and his arrangement of Nobuo Uematsu's Final Fantasy IV main theme appears in the intro to the forthcoming Playstation Portable Complete Collection edition. Both titles were recently announced for release in English-language regions.

Outside of Square Enix, Hamauzu will be contributing to the soundtrack for Marvelous Entertainment's sequel to Half-Minute Hero for the PSP. A full-length album titled IMERUAT is also in the works, a collaboration with Final Fantasy XIII vocalist Mina. Hamauzu describes his current situation as an ideal mix of creative freedom and diverse opportunities.

We had the chance to sit down with the composer at a recent recital of Piano Collections Final Fantasy XIII, performed by Aki Kuroda. In this interview, preceding the musicians' sold-out May 22 Paris concert organized by Wayô Records, we hear from the composer and vocalist of IMERUAT on their past and present collaborations.

Sound Current: 'Serializing RPG Storylines on Final Fantasy Legends'

March 29, 2011 12:00 AM |

[In his latest 'Sound Current' interview for GameSetWatch, Jeriaska talks to Square Enix's Takashi Tokita and Naoshi Mizuta about producing and composing for the newly launched in Japan Final Fantasy Legends mobile title.]

Square Enix first set out to create a turn-based role-playing game in serial installments with Final Fantasy IV: The After Years. The positive reception of the episodic form led game designer Takashi Tokita to use the same approach with Japan's mobile and iPod Touch title Final Fantasy Legends. Featuring an original storyline and game world, Legends harkens back to the sprite art of the Super Nintendo era.

For the original music score, composer Naoshi Mizuta was tasked with capturing the chiptune feel of earlier console eras. The musician, perhaps best known for his work on Final Fantasy XI, has performed as part of the Star Onions band in addition to writing music for Blood of Bahamut and Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light.

In this interview, Final Fantasy Legends' producer and composer discuss the pros and cons of developing serialized games for digital distribution platforms. Gamasutra will be following up with a further Takashi Tokita interview on the international release of Final Fantasy IV Complete Collection for Playstation Portable, an enhanced port containing Final Fantasy IV and Final Fantasy IV: The After Years.

Naoshi Mizuta and Takashi Tokita at Square Enix's offices in Shinjuku

Sound Current: 'Back in the Swing of Things - Simon Viklund on Bionic Commando Rearmed 2'

February 26, 2011 12:00 PM |

[In the latest of his 'Sound Current' interviews with notable video game musicians, Jeriaska sits down with Stockholm-based Simon Viklund to discuss his soundtrack to console downloadable title Bionic Commando Rearmed and its sequel.]

Composer Simon Viklund has written music and served as creative director on several current generation game titles developed in Sweden. In 2007 he led the team at GRIN behind Bionic Commando Rearmed for the Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation 3's Playstation Network, a downloadable remake of the 8-bit action title Bionic Commando.

For the soundtrack, released as a digital album through iTunes, the musician arranged compositions from the NES game by Capcom composer Junko Tamiya. More recently, he has returned to score the direct sequel, Bionic Commando Rearmed 2, this time handled by developer Fatshark.

Unlike the enhanced remake, Rearmed 2 features an entirely new storyline and original music compositions in addition to arranged renditions of the NES music. This interview with the composer investigates the challenges of tapping into the feel of the classic Bionic Commando soundtrack and what narrative elements have been seen as vital to the the Rearmed series of games.

Sound Current: '2 Player Productions on Giving Form to the Chip Music Documentary'

January 25, 2011 12:00 PM |

[In his latest 'Sound Current' interview dealing with aspects of the video game music-related scene, Jeriaska talks to the documentary filmmakers at 2 Player Productions on their chipmusic-related release Reformat The Planet, as well as their more recent work documenting behind the scenes development on games like Uncharted 3 and Minecraft.]

The documentary filmmakers at 2 Player Productions have been capturing New York's vibrant chiptune scene through digital video since the 2006 Blip Festival. Following the release of their full-length feature Reformat the Planet, they began branching out to explore a number of other realms of video game culture.

Their visually compelling, musically rich video projects have explored the PAX concerts, game development at Naughty Dog and Sucker Punch, as well as the inner workings of the Penny Arcade office for PATV. Their next documentary, currently in production, will examine the making of the Swedish indie phenomenon Minecraft.

Previously we have heard from videographers Paul Levering and Paul Owens on their documentation of the Blip Festival concerts and Penny Arcade Expos. With the release of Reformat the Planet on DVD, we caught up with team members Asif Siddiky and Gabe Liberti to hear how the motivations of 2 Player Productions have developed over time.

Sound Current: 'DeathSpank's Soundtrack - Sailing the Seas of Sonic Justice'

January 17, 2011 12:00 PM |

[In his latest GameSetWatch interview, Jeriaska sits down with DeathSpank composer Jeff Tymoschuk, as the Hothead-developed game's soundtrack gets a free downloadable digital version.]

Video game musician Jeff Tymoschuk of Vancouver, Canada previously joined local developer Hothead Games to compose the score for Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness. Two years ago this month we caught up with the composer and founder of GreenWire Music for a dangerous audio interview.

The turn-based role-playing game founded on a Lovecraftian reimagining of the Penny Arcade characters shares a number of qualities with follow-up Deathspank, also scored by Tymoschuk.

A dual-installment downloadable game like the previous Hothead title, (text-heavy and with an emphasis on humor), the atmosphere of DeathSpank centers on the comic vision of celebrated point-and-click adventure game creator Ron Gilbert.

Over the holidays, Hothead Games made available for free download the official DeathSpank Soundtrack album. Again we sat down with the composer to hear how the humorous nature of the game informed the making of the music score:

Sound Current: 'Rock, Roll & Kamurocho - An In-Depth Yakuza 3 Music Interview'

July 29, 2010 12:00 PM |

[In a new installment of his 'Sound Current' series for GameSetWatch, writer Jeriaska tracks down Yakuza 3 and franchise soundtrack composer Hidenori Shoji to discuss the making of the music for the Sega's signature crime drama game.]

Over the course of the Yakuza game series, protagonist Kazuma Kiryu has battled a crime boss in Osaka, started an orphanage in Okinawa, and even found himself transformed into Gion's 17th century swordsman Miyamoto Musashi. In spring of 2011, the character will be returning to English-language regions for Yakuza 4.

Through much of Kazuma's travels, the centrality of Tokyo's fictional red light district "Kamurocho" has endured, the scene of intense rock tracks written by Sega in-house composer Hidenori Shoji.

Ironically, Shoji started out on the path toward becoming a rock musician only upon setting aside his dreams of joining a popular band in Tokyo. Entering Sega, he learned to channel his passion for live performance into the composition of electronic music. Today he regularly appears on stage, performing rock renditions of classic Sega game themes as part of the band "H.".

The sound of the Yakuza series' battle scenes has emerged gradually out of a personal mission to give rock the same primacy in games as other forms of music. In this in-depth interview taking place at Sega's headquarters in Japan, Shoji describes how the soundtrack to the Playstation 3 exclusive Yakuza 3 is an expression of this artistic motive.

Sound Current: 'The One-Two Follow-Through: A Super Street Fighter IV Audio Interview'

May 26, 2010 2:00 PM |

[Continuing his 'Sound Current' series for GameSetWatch, writer Jeriaska catches up with the duo behind Capcom's just-debuted Super Street Fighter IV, discussing the creation of the stylish updated fighting game's soundtrack.]

Sound director and designer Masayuki Endou and in-house Capcom composer Hideyuki Fukasawa joined us in 2009 for a discussion of their ongoing collaborations on video game audio, titled "The One-Two Punch of Street Fighter IV's Audio."

The conversation centered on approaches to pairing sound effects with compositions, writing original tracks that complement the imaginative international locales of the popular fighting game, and arranging classic themes written by Yoko Shimomura and other artists.

In this follow-up interview, the two audio designers offer insights into the making of Capcom's Super Street Fighter IV. From generating the noises of Hakan's slippery special moves, to the identity of the uncredited guest vocalist on the Tokyo Overpass stage, the sound team reveals that numerous secrets underlie the Street Fighter audio recipe.

Sound Current: 'Golden Synthesizer: Korg DS-10 Plus 5pb Records'

May 13, 2010 12:00 AM |

[Continuing his 'Sound Current' series of articles on video game music for GameSetWatch, Jeriaska looks at the DG-10 Japanese album/live event series in Japan, revealing the notable musicians taking the DS-10+ music creation software to new audio heights.]

Since the Korg DS-10 software was released in 2008, the cartridge has intended to give Nintendo DS owners the primary tools for creating electronic music. Not only was development overseen by Korg, but key input was provided by game industry visionaries Michio Okamiya of The Black Mages, Yasunori Mitsuda of Chrono Trigger and Nobuyoshi Sano (Sanodg) of Ridge Racer.

Sano, who delivered a tongue-in-cheek Steve Jobs-styled keynote to announce the DS-10 Plus in Japan, is the producer of several albums of DS-10 generated music. Called the DG-10 series, they feature vocalists Asami Imai (VCO), Akiko Hasegawa (VCF) and Ai Matayoshi (VCA).

The music series started out as an idea by 5pb Records label producer Masatoshi Nakamura, who has previously overseen game soundtrack releases from the Etrian Odyssey series as well as organizing live music performances such as the EXTRA Hyper Game Music Events.

It was at EXTRA that Sano, Mitsuda and Okamiya's Korg DS Trio debuted. In this discussion we hear from Sano and Nakamura on the making of the album series. Three embedded videos from DG-10 performances offer a glimpse into the group's unique hybridization of Tokyo club music and videogame audio.

Sound Current: 'Composer Yuko Komiyama on Monster Hunter's 5th Anniversary Orchestral Concert'

April 21, 2010 12:00 AM |

[Continuing his 'Sound Current' interview series for GameSetWatch, Jeriaska speaks to Capcom composer Yuko Komiyama as Monster Hunter Tri debuts in the West, looking at the big-in-Japan series' musical history and inspirations.]

Musician Yuko Komiyama, an in-house composer for Capcom, was among the musical guests appearing onstage at Monster Hunter's 5th Anniversary orchestral concert to introduce her original compositions.

The live event was organized by Harmonics International, whose game concerts have included Kenji Ito’s gentle echo meeting, and was performed by the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra at the Metropolitan Art Space in Ikebukuro.

In addition to classical orchestration, multi-regional musical influences pervaded the performance. Virtuosic vocal themes were sung by Ikuko, Koji Ezaki performed an Indian bamboo recorder, and Satoshi Yamamoto played the bouzouki, a long-necked Greek lute.

The orchestral pieces appearing at the event included songs from all three console Monster Hunter games. In this interview, Komiyama offers an overview of the musical influences underlying the game series, whose carefully considered mixture of international styles mirrors the hybrid creatures of the game series.