Apparently, chiptunes are what you need as the defining mark of intentionally “retro” gaming.
From Software’s new game, “3D Dot Game Heroes,” re-imagines the pixelated 8-bit world we love by taking it fully 3D… but keeping the idea of the “pixel” intact. Everyone and everything in this world looks like the blocky, pixelated worlds of old NES games. But now, it’s been trasmuted to a fully 3D environment.
To match this visual idea, the game’s audio takes the chiptune music of the NES and augments it with effects, newer MIDI synth, and even some live instrumental performances. Some songs are more “faithful” to the retro sound than others, but taken as a whole, the 3D Dot Game Heroes OST revels in the past.
For someone like myself, this is almost always a good thing. Let it come as no surprise to you, dear reader, that I am fond of this soundtrack. I was worried that the soundtrack wouldn’t do the game’s concept justice. It turns out, I had no reason to worry.
I’m going to let the audio samples do the descriptive work for me, for the most part. I will note that there were some tracks that sounded a little too similar to pieces I’ve heard in Mega Man, Ninja Gaiden, Dragon Quest, and a few other NES games. I don’t think there’s anything here that could be considered plagiarism, but that melodic line and chord progression in track 20 sounds remarkably similar to something I heard in Dragon Quest IV.
The battle themes are top notch. Give tracks 21 and 32 a listen, and you’ll hear what I mean for yourself. The additional decoration that comes outside the realm of chiptunes actually help accentuate the chiptune sound, and make it slightly mroe palettable for a new generation of gamers.
I can only handle so much intentionally retro stuff per year, and I think I’ve about reached my limit for 2009 between this and 4 Warriors of Light. But I’m very happy with both of the aforementioned soundtracks; this one, perhaps moreso, because I wasn’t expecting From Software to put together a good sound team for this game. Fortunately, they went to SuperSweep to outsource the music (with Shoichiro Sakamoto handling most of the BGM). So thanks, FromSoft and SuperSweep, for outperforming my expectations!