LIVE: Midwest VGM at VGMCon 2024 – PA190

Pixelated Audio is back from a wonderful weekend at VGMCon in Minnesota! Gene was slated to represent us but along the way drummed up a party including Pernell from Rhythm and Pixels, Carlos from Heroes Three, and Thomas Kresge head of the Game Brass (check out their new album Barrel Brassed)!

When in Minnesota do as the Minnesotans do, as the saying goes. We had a fun time talking about all manner of VGM related to the Midwest; the region itself, games about the area and made there, as well as composers from the area.

Getting more specific we cover pinball and edutainment in some level of depth before the panel devolves into talking about Shrek, cheese, and endless trips cross country. It’s a fun journey through a diverse range of VGM and we hope you enjoy the show we put together. Pardon the noise in the background, it was the best we could do with a portable recorder.

Show notes and track list

Kamen Rider Agito & Kuuga Wild Battle – PA189

Kamen Rider Agito & Kuuga Wild Battle [仮面ライダーアギト&クウガ ワイルドバトル] is a 2001 game for the Sega Pico developed by Arc System Works and published by Bandai. It is based on the Kamen Rider superhero license property which started in the 1970s.

To keep it brief, the Sega Pico is less a console and more a children’s toy. Imagine the guts of a Sega Genesis / Mega Drive (minus the FM) stuffed into a colorful laptop / digital storybook for pre-school age children. For the Sega Pico, Kamen Rider is surprisingly involved and game-like compared to most of the educational software the system was built for. It features a basic 1-on-1 fighting game, a racing game, and a lightgun style shooting game.

On the audio hardware side, the Pico contains the Sega Master System’s SN76489 (3 square waves, 1 noise channel) and a sample channel used mostly for voice clips. Unfortunately we don’t have information on the composer / arranger for the Pico version, but some of the tracks are based on the original Kamen Rider music composed by Toshihiko Sahashi. It’s an unexpectedly cool soundtrack for an obscure system even by VGM standards, and we hope you enjoy it!

Show notes and track list

Ultimate Brain Games – PA188

Ultimate Brain Games is a board game collection released for PS1 in 2003 developed by cosmigo and published by Telegames. There’s not much to say about the board games themselves; things like dominoes, chess, backgammon and the like, but the soundtrack written by Zbigniew Siatecki is great! Cosmigo was a very small German developer responsible for a ton of board and card game collections from around 2000 to 2015. They still exist today, mostly as the developer on a pixel art graphic software called “Pro Motion”.

Zbigniew Siatecki‘s story is a somewhat familiar one around this timeframe. He’s a Polish musician and graphic artist that got his start in the demoscene in the 90s / early 2000s (working under the pseudonym Siatek) whose music made its way into a few games from 2003-2007. Since his work on Ultimate Brain Games, and the related soundtracks for Ultimate Card Games and Solitaire Overload, he’s mostly moved onto 3D graphics working on titles like Hard Reset, Shadow Warrior 1 & 2 (the 2010s series), Dark Souls: Remastered, and Cyberpunk 2077. His music is warm and nostalgic with all of the charming turn of the millennium demoscene vibes you can handle. While we couldn’t get him on the show, we’re still big fans of his work and we hope everyone enjoys it as much as we do.

Show notes and track list

GunMaster – PA187

GunMaster is a December 1994 arcade exclusive game developed by Metro Corporation. It’s a single or two-player boss rush action game that’s part fighting game and part platformer; think a dash of Gunstar Heroes with a Neo Geo art style. The game uses a well-established combo of soundchips: the OKIM6295 for 4 channels of ADPCM and the YM2151 for 8 channels of FM audio.

Metro Corporation was best known in the 90s for their Bust a Groove / Bust a Move series. More recently they’ve been a contract developer for Nintendo working on several Pokemon games and the Switch re-release of the Another Code / Trace Memory games.

The soundtrack was composed by a trio under the pseudonyms Famishin, MAZ, and Shadow although our information about them is limited. What we do know is that Famishin continues to work in the game industry with their company Yuzusoft, with game releases as recently as 2022. MAZ was last seen as composer for Metro Corporation’s PS1 game BursTrick: Wake Boarding!!, and Shadow is as elusive as Totsukurzwell (from our show on Dangerous Seed). As always, we hope you enjoy this boss music heavy soundtrack.

Show notes and track list

Gigandes – PA186

Gigandes (ギガンデス) is an arcade game developed by East Technology in 1989 and released in February of 1990. It’s a horizontal shmup in the style of R-Type featuring all of the bio-mechanical tropes common to the era. It was designed for the Taito X System hardware which used a YM2610, the same audio configuration used in the Neo Geo, and was composed by Akira Inoue and Takaro Nozaki.

East Technology was a small developer based in Shinjuku that mostly worked on arcade games. The company was founded in 1987 and operated until around the mid-1990s. East Technology only produced around 10 games; their most notable were Double Dragon III: The Rosetta Stone published by Technos, and Operation Wolf 3 and Silent Dragon published by Taito.

The soundtrack to Gigandes is eccentric and in some ways ahead of its time. Full of weird and off-putting samples, the tonal whiplash is at times abrasive and at others catchy, but always compelling. Relative unknowns Akira Inoue and Takaro Nozaki put together a one-of-a-kind soundtrack that is worth the time to explore and we hope you enjoy listening to it as much as we did.

Show notes and track list

Plus Alpha – PA185

We’ve got a really fun soundtrack to dive into this episode from a Jaleco arcade title released in 1989 called Plus Alpha, composed by Tsukasa Tawada

It’s an overhead shooter similar to Twinbee, Raiden, or 1942 and was re-released on the Nintendo Switch in 2020 under the Arcade Archives series published by HAMSTER Corporation.

This is one of Tsukasa Tawada‘s earliest soundtracks, a composer still active in the 2020s with work on Pokemon and Harvest Moon titles. He brings lots of variety in this soundtrack, which is a ton of fun and also hits all the marks for an awesome arcade experience.

 

Show notes and track list