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September 6, 2014 11:30 AM   Subscribe

Diggin' in the Carts: A documentary series about Japanese video game music, and it's effect on global music.
posted by zabuni (12 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
 
Oh man great idea will check out
posted by grobstein at 12:29 PM on September 6, 2014


Can anyone identify the Pacman-sampling track that J-Rocc plays at 3:45 in the first episode?
posted by escape from the potato planet at 12:59 PM on September 6, 2014


Can I do that thing where I grouse about my personal special-snowflake favorite being left out of a non-exhaustive list? Where is Yasunori Mitsuda, man? This list is worthless without him! (Nah, not really. I am especially pleased with the inclusion of "Hip" Tanaka!) But seriously! (Not that seriously.) But seriously, he's a genius. He barely seems to be working in the industry these days -- maybe he's too expensive? But his work on Chrono Trigger and its sequels is epochal.

And big shoutout to him for really putting his soul into the arranged soundtrack albums, Brink of Time (Chrono Trigger) and Creid (Xenogears) (and the promised but unheard Chrono Cross one). They are beautifully produced and original, and they extend the visions of the game soundtracks they're based on.

The contrast to the Final Fantasy arranged albums is striking -- there have been dozens of those over the years, but the overall quality is not great. Nobuo basically doesn't work on them at all (didn't even when he was still writing all the soundtracks) -- it's all farmed out. Not to say farming-out can't be good, but -- it really makes a difference when the original composer comes back in and does the arrangements, and works hands-on with the musicians. Thank you, Yasunori Mitsuda!
posted by grobstein at 1:53 PM on September 6, 2014 [4 favorites]


He might show up later? Apparently the part released so far only covers until, like, 1989?
posted by DoctorFedora at 3:37 PM on September 6, 2014


I've been listening to a lot of Jah Wobble lately, so it kind of blew my mind to hear Tanaka mention him (and Sly Dunbar & reggae in general) as a huge influence.
posted by the bricabrac man at 6:10 PM on September 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


He might show up later? Apparently the part released so far only covers until, like, 1989?

Hm, I primarily know Hitoshi Sakimoto from his collaborations with Yasumi Matsuno, beginning with Ogre Battle, which came out on SNES in 1993 (1995 in NA), making it roughly contemporaneous with Chrono Trigger. But I guess he actually worked on a bunch of games before that.

I definitely appreciate his work, and him + Matsuno (game design) and Akihiko Yoshida (character design) is a dream team that stops my heart to think about -- I hope they can work together again.

But Mitsuda is a little bit better and a little bit more important. He might be the best.
posted by grobstein at 6:48 PM on September 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


I guess that might have been a little opaque. Matsuno, Sakimoto, and Yoshida worked together on Ogre Battle, Tactics Ogre, and Final Fantasy Tactics, all of which number in the most beautiful, thoughtful, and engaging story-games I've played. TO has been copied so many times that TO clones are a lively genre of their own. Ogre Battle is all the more impressive for how unique its gameplay still seems, 20 years later.
posted by grobstein at 6:53 PM on September 6, 2014


Just watched the first episode. Seeing Junko Ozawa's hand-plotted graphs for each voice's waveform was heartwarming.

It reminds me of how Hip Tanaka coded the Metroid audio in assembly language. I hope they have him talk about that kind of thing. They did mention how he did hardware design for each arcade game he worked on.

I'd never changed my way of doing things, starting from understanding the buffer in order to write every parameter for sound controls, to writing the data directly to them. I preferred to stick to my way because I believed that could maximize the sound chip capability, which was limited to 3 to 4 tones, and generating more detailed sounds.

This is certainly not the most efficient way to make music and definitely not for everyone, but it awes me that to see that people can reach through so many layers to materialize their vision. And of course, it opened up so the possibilities that made the Metroid soundtrack as striking as it is.
posted by ignignokt at 8:10 PM on September 6, 2014 [3 favorites]


Hello! Long-time MF reader, popping my posting cherry.

An odd first-time post for me but as someone who was very much involved in video game music, way back when, I thought I'd stick my head above the parapet.

The series looks great, if a little Eastern-biased. Obviously I can't deny VGMs origins, especially where arcade games were concerned, but myself and a few of my European and US contemporaries were carving out our own mark on the genre back then too. I've rewritten that sentence several times to try to make it sound less sulky: it's not meant to be!

Greatly looking forward to the next instalment.
posted by dutycyclegenerator at 1:59 AM on September 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


it has always struck me how much sonic the hedgehog's various BGMs sound like the doobie brothers.
posted by gorestainedrunes at 8:31 AM on September 7, 2014


woah this is awesome! Looking forward to watching it!
posted by rebent at 7:43 PM on September 7, 2014


dutycyclegenerator: The series looks great, if a little Eastern-biased. Obviously I can't deny VGMs origins, especially where arcade games were concerned, but myself and a few of my European and US contemporaries were carving out our own mark on the genre back then too.
It does look great! I was upset when I saw there was only one part up.

Highlighting a couple of favorites from the west: Tim Follin's main theme from Solstice blew my mind when I heard it.
Honorable mention: His Pictionary theme.

More here.
posted by chinesefood at 3:38 PM on September 8, 2014


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