Sundry Sunday: Gyruss Themes

Sundry Sunday is our weekly feature of fun gaming culture finds and videos, from across the years and even decades.

While there are examples of excellent music from the classic era of arcades (Frogger comes immediately to mind), I don’t think there is much that can equal that of Gyruss’ arrangement of Bach’s Tocatta and Fugue in D Minor. Here it is, isolated from the rest of the game’s soundtrack, from Youtube uploader StyleK226 (1 1/2 minues):

Wikipedia tells us that the arcade arrangement is reminiscent of a version of the song from the British band Sky, titled just “Toccata” (4 1/2 minutes):

If you only know Gyruss from the NES port, you might be surprised that it’s an almost entirely different arrangement from the arcade version! Maybe it was changed because of the similarity to Sky’s version. Some people prefer that one, it’s got a bit more variety, although I think the arcade’s is a bit better. Judge for yourself (3 minutes):

The Toccata is only used for the intro and the first warp on each planet, which is a bit of a shame, the rest of the music isn’t bad, but it’s not Bach. In Japan, Gyruss was a Famicom Disk System game. The FDS had extra sound hardware, and the result is an upgraded version of the NES soundtrack (14 minutes in all):

There’s been a number of fan versions of the Gyruss soundtrack, although most of them seem to be inspired by the NES port rather than the arcade original. Here’s a metal medley of that particular musical mutation (3 minutes):

As commenter @Fordi says, “What I love is that Intro / Stage 1 is a genre cover (metal) of a game’s adaptation (Gyruss) of a genre cover (Sky – Toccata) of classical music (Toccata and Fugue in Dm).”

Sundry Sunday: Megalixir

Sundry Sunday is our weekly feature of fun gaming culture finds and videos, from across the years and even decades.

A really recent one this time! BitFinity, a.k.a. Matthew Taranto, who made Brawl in the Family and a fair amount of Waluigi music, animated and wrote this terrific little song about item hording in Final Fantasy VI, sung by Taylor Robinson.

Space Harrier Theme on Japanese Master System Hardware

Fact 1: the Japanese version of the Master System had an add on that provided FM synthesis sound synthesis, and greatly improved its music. Many US-released games have support for the add-on, but it was never released over here so that feature remained unused.

Fact 2: A later revision of the hardware in Japan (there called the Master System) had the FM chip built in. This version could even mix together the system’s default sound with the FM chip. And, if you turned the system on without a game inserted, it played a special version of the Space Harrier theme, programmed to take advantage of both chips.

This is that:

Sundry Sunday: Onett, Titanic Ant and Captain Strong from Duane and BrandO

Sundry Sunday is our weekly feature of fun gaming culture finds and videos, from across the years and even decades.

The Adventures of Duane and BrandO were a nerdcore rap group that focused on doing video game parody songs. It’s an oft-told tale, old as time. They had some drama and broke up a few years ago, but not before making some nice tracks.

Honestly, that isn’t my scene musically, but they did some tracks based on Earthbound, and that entirely is my scene. The whole thing’s on Bandcamp, but here’s a sequence of three bits early in the game: a fairly straight rendition of part of the music for the first town, a diss track (is that what they call them?) from the first “Your Sanctuary” boss, and then the highlight, I think, in which the Onett police force get their heads handed to them by a 12-year-old kid. “I’m out of here that looks like it smarts/Check out my Super-Ultra-Mambo-Tango-Foxtrot Martial Arts!” (SUMTF?)

Onett – Titanic Ant – Captain Strong: YoutubeBandcamp (2 1/2 minutes)

A Video on Wario Land 4’s Sound Design

Did you ever play Wario Land 4 on the Gameboy Advance? It was the last “classic” Wario Land game before its team switched over to making WarioWare games. If you’re a gaming, or at least a Nintendo, enthusiast you probably know what WarioWare games sound like, that endearingly weird crushed and echoey sound, but you might be surprised to discover that Wario Land 4 sounds of a piece with the Wario Land titles! Here’s the intro, hear for yourself:

Here’s the original WarioWare’s intro to compare its sound to. It’s all the good stuff!

geno7 over on Youtube (who has a terrific home page, by the way!) did a 51-minute deep dive into WL4’s sound design that’s just the kind of obsessive attention to detail that our cadre of pixel art loonies appreciate! Have a gawk and a listen and see if you agree.

The Bizarre Music and Sound Design of Wario Land 4 (Youtube, 51 minutes)

Zelda Podcasts

Ryan Veeder has made (and continues to make) podcasts about playing various Zelda games.

The Hero’s Path is about replaying Breath of the Wild. 54 episodes, about 42 hours in total. Here’s the RSS link.

The Complete Guide to Koholint was his first Zelda podcast, and it discusses each of the 256 overworld screens of Link’s Awakening. 256(!) episodes. They vary in length between one minute and 47, with most being just a few minutes long. RSS.

The Complete Guide to Termina covers various elements of Majora’s Mask. It’s at 21 episodes, and is ongoing. RSS.

The NES Sample Encoding Error

There was an error in the data prep in many NES games that caused them to reverse the bit order of samples. Or more accurately, the games encoded the samples correctly, but the flaw is in the NES sound hardware.

The result is, many games with samples sound notably worse than they should. The most infamous example of this is the sound in Double Dribble, which sounds particularly bad on its title screen. The difference can be heard on the game’s page on The Cutting Room Floor. There’s a hack for Double Dribble on romhacking.net that corrects the samples in-game.

Another game this affects is the unlicensed Tengen NES game KLAX. In the arcade KLAX had very little music, but the NES version has excellent music that relies heavily on sampled instruments. There’s a fixed patch for that game on romhacking.net, too!

Sleep Baseball

We here at Set Side B are about computers, and we’re about games, and we’re about the intersection between the two, which happens by accident to include Northwoods Radio Sleep Baseball, available as individual files, and also through Google and Apple‘s podcast systems.

People have remarked about the powerful soporific effects of having a baseball game playing on the radio when you’re trying to fall asleep at night. But there are several difficulties with using baseball for sleep-producing: there’s not always a game on, when the game’s over there could be any loud thing on afterward, and there’s always the chance something exciting might happen that would rouse you from your repose and briefly cause you to care.

Sleep Baseball solves all of these issues. The games played are not on a radio but on your phone or computer, as audio files. The Sleep Baseball league is entirely fictional, so there is no actual drama. And the announcer is pretty relaxed and low-key, as are all the ads (for fake products and businesses), so you don’t have to worry about sudden bursts of interest.

If you’ve followed Sleep Baseball before, you should know now that they have recorded their third game, and have recorded some new ads. If you had gotten tired of the same game and events between the Big Rapids Timbers and the Cadillac Cars, it might be of interest to you to give the new recordings a try. Sweet dreams!