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Maou
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"Favorite sound programming by system" , posted Mon 8 Mar 06:04:post reply

So everyone has their favorite game music composers by system, but I've been thinking about how non-linear the progression in music chip/ sound quality has been in game systems---let's talk about your favorite sound boards by systems, the ones you thought had the best 'distinctive synth instruments' or the nicest midi! Maybe you have a soft spot for those Super Famicom instruments, or you really dig PCE or Mega Drive super-bass? Better still if you can help me figure out the line between sound programmer's skills and what's actually available technically---I know I don't know!

I think the 8-bit Famicom library shines both for the skill of the composers and sound programmers who got such memorable songs out of such simple hardware, but also for the sharp, crisp electronic sound of the actual chip. Even when I was 10 years old, I knew that the last battle music with Koopa in Mario 3 was INCREDIBLE and that the 16-bit remake was junk, and I think it has everything to do with the crisp, punchy sound of the Famicom's synth.

Mega Drive has always intrigued me even though it's far inferior to the Super Famicom. On one hand, there's a certain depressingly muddy, grimy bass and tinny treble sound quality that I associate with first-gen shooters, and that's uniquely Mega Drive. On the other hand, you can still squeeze out glorious Dreams Come True-authored masterpieces like in Sonic 2 with a bit of work.

I've always been puzzled and amazed by the Mega CD. I don't know if it's the availability of Redbook Audio or simply the greater space for better programming, but it produced sounds far outside what I thought Sega's humble system could do. Sonic CD comes to mind and actually uses Redbook, but even the PCM music on Mega CD is incredible---Lunar 2's sound somehow has a repetoire of synth violin and oboe that actually sound like violins and oboe, which I wouldn't have expected out of the MD and which made my favorite last dungeon theme ever.

I remember being puzzled and disappointed that Playstation midi was worse than SFC despite there being more sound channels. After FF VI, I couldn't believe how bad the sound quality (not composition as such) in VII was...even the compositionally fun One-Winged Angel has awful synth next to Dancing Mad. On the other hand, Uematsu seemed to get ahold of a new sound programmer with VIII, producing some of the best sound quality I'd ever heard, so maybe it just required more work to make better use of PS midi?

I could go on and on about the GBA's terrible soundchip and with how impressed I am with DS, even if it's still a shade weaker than the SFC after all these years...





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[this message was edited by Maou on Mon 8 Mar 06:29]

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Spoon
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"Re(1):Favorite sound programming by system" , posted Mon 8 Mar 07:11post reply

quote:
So everyone has their favorite game music composers by system, but I've been thinking about how non-linear the progression in music chip/ sound quality has been in game systems---let's talk about your favorite sound boards by systems, the ones you thought had the best 'distinctive synth instruments' or the nicest midi! Maybe you have a soft spot for those Super Famicom instruments, or you really dig PCE or Mega Drive super-bass? Better still if you can help me figure out the line between sound programmer's skills and what's actually available technically---I know I don't know!

I think the 8-bit Famicom library shines both for the skill of the composers and sound programmers who got such memorable songs out of such simple hardware, but also for the sharp, crisp electronic sound of the actual chip. Even when I was 10 years old, I knew that the last battle music with Koopa in Mario 3 was INCREDIBLE and that the 16-bit remake was junk, and I think it has everything to do with the crisp, punchy sound of the Famicom's synth.

Mega Drive has always intrigued me even though it's far inferior to the Super Famicom. On one hand, there's a certain depressingly muddy, grimy bass and tinny treble sound quality that I associate with first-gen shooters, and that's uniquely Mega Drive. On the other hand, you can still squeeze out glorious Dreams Come True-authored masterpieces like in Sonic 2 with a bit of work.

I've always been puzzled and amazed by the Mega CD. I don't know if it's the availability of Redbook Audio or simply the greater space for better programming, but it produced sounds far outside what I thought Sega's humble system could do. Sonic CD comes to mind and actually uses Redbook, but even the PCM music on Mega CD is incredible---Lunar 2's sound somehow has a repetoire of synth violin and oboe that actually sound like violins and oboe, which I wouldn't have expected out of the MD and which made my favorite last dungeon theme ever.

I remember being puzzled and disappointed that Playstation midi was worse than SFC despite there being more sound channels. After FF VI, I couldn't believe how bad the sound quality (not composition as such) in VII was...even the compositionally fun One-Winged Angel has awful synth next to Dancing Mad. On the other hand, Uematsu seemed to get ahold of a new sound programmer with VIII, producing some of the best sound quality I'd ever heard, so maybe it just required more work to make better use of PS midi?

I could go on and on about the GBA's terrible soundchip and with how impressed I am with DS, even if it's still a shade weaker than the SFC after all these years...



I judge the sound quality of any NES/FC emulator by how well it emulates Falsion.

The FC is my favourite, though I certainly do love the SNES. The SNES blew me away with how lush and rich the audio was compared to the FC, but there's still one sore spot for me: Ninja Gaiden 3! The FC version's music was aggressive and intense, and was honestly my favourite of the NG soundtracks. The SNES NG trilogy I didn't like at all because the NG 3 music sounded like it had been smoothed over excessively in the translation. It just sounded wrong without the hard edge it had on the FC.

The Genesis/Mega Drive wasn't bad at all (Moonwalker!), but it didn't arrest me in the same way that the FC or SNES did. The FC had the unfair advantage of being the system I really started with, while the SNES just seemed richer than the Genesis (though admittedly I didn't have much exposure to Sega CD games). To be fair, I was squarely in Nintendo's camp for the longest time.





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"Re(2):Favorite sound programming by system" , posted Mon 8 Mar 08:08:post reply

Ha, I wish I could say that I knew the distinction between sound programming and what the system was capable of on my favorites. There certainly was a time in my life when it looked like I would be doing that myself. Too bad that didn't work out.

Well anyway, I personally feel that among systems of the 16-bit era the SF/SNES had the best overall quality. FC/NES was certainly something, but I think after hearing the same wave synthesis over and over I was pretty jaded on NES music. SNES music on the other hand had seemingly infinite possibilities since the sampled sounds weren't internal and could be loaded in with a game's music data. This was kind of a double-edged sword though, since as Ninja Gaiden Trilogy proved, even if the music has good composition, bad samples would screw it up. But when it all came together, it was great.

As for MD/Genesis music... honestly I've never liked it. Maybe it's because I was heavily training in music at the time, but the music always sounded out-of-sync to me. Like a great tune might be going for a few bars then all of a sudden it would just stutter for one measure for seemingly no reason at all. It offended my ears. I wish I could just ignore it but it's like artists and bad anatomy. Some things you just can't ignore.

Never got to partake in music on other systems at that time. Oh, and there's really nothing to say about CD systems since that's pretty much as good as quality gets. When it's actually using the CD, that is.





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[this message was edited by Gojira on Mon 8 Mar 08:12]

KTallguy
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"Re(3):Favorite sound programming by system" , posted Tue 9 Mar 11:03post reply

What I don't get about the Sega Genesis sound chip is that Sega games, especially Sonic, always sound so damn amazing. The music in Sonic always blows me away, and even though SNES music is great, Sega just knew how to get the most out of their system, much more than other companies.

I guess that's the same kind of mentality that lead to the Saturn being impossible to program for.

I grew up playing PC games mostly. I remember playing Populous on my 386 and seeing that you could have either music OR sound, not both, because of how the music and sound used the same instruments back then and playing 2 at once was impossible, or something. I think my computer was too old, as I can't find an example on youtube of the music I remember, but it definitely left an impression.





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nobinobita
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"Re(4):Favorite sound programming by system" , posted Tue 9 Mar 11:10post reply

quote:

I grew up playing PC games mostly. I remember playing Populous on my 386 and seeing that you could have either music OR sound, not both, because of how the music and sound used the same instruments back then and playing 2 at once was impossible, or something. I think my computer was too old, as I can't find an example on youtube of the music I remember, but it definitely left an impression.



I played Populous on the SNES. The game had a constant, ambient breathing noise during gameplay. It made everything fantastically eerie. It felt a little bit like the classic Will Vinton short based on Mark Twain's The Mysterious Stranger (a great story and a great short!).

That's one of many happy sound chip related memories i have of the SNES (though interestingly enough i find i appreciate the megadrive sound chip more and more as i get older)





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"Re(4):Favorite sound programming by system" , posted Tue 9 Mar 11:47post reply

quote:
What I don't get about the Sega Genesis sound chip is that Sega games, especially Sonic, always sound so damn amazing. The music in Sonic always blows me away, and even though SNES music is great, Sega just knew how to get the most out of their system, much more than other companies.

I guess that's the same kind of mentality that lead to the Saturn being impossible to program for.

I grew up playing PC games mostly. I remember playing Populous on my 386 and seeing that you could have either music OR sound, not both, because of how the music and sound used the same instruments back then and playing 2 at once was impossible, or something. I think my computer was too old, as I can't find an example on youtube of the music I remember, but it definitely left an impression.



I still find amazing how clear the sound effects sound on Sonic games...Think about the sfx that plays every time you collect a ring...simply amazing...
Now..I invested plenty of hours on both the PC and SNES version of Populous..Your problem was caused by your hardware indeed. If you have had a proper sound card you would have been able to listen to all the channels simultaneously. This was a common problem during early PC gaming.





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KTallguy
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"Re(5):Favorite sound programming by system" , posted Tue 9 Mar 16:41post reply

Yea, my PC was very old. I heard blips and bloops.
But once I upgraded I was spoiled by Warcraft 2 and its awesome Redbook audio. Redbook was really the beginning of widespread high quality orchestrated music, at least for my life.





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Amakusa
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"Re(2):Favorite sound programming by system" , posted Thu 11 Mar 13:37post reply

quote:

The FC is my favourite, though I certainly do love the SNES. The SNES blew me away with how lush and rich the audio was compared to the FC, but there's still one sore spot for me: Ninja Gaiden 3! The FC version's music was aggressive and intense, and was honestly my favourite of the NG soundtracks. The SNES NG trilogy I didn't like at all because the NG 3 music sounded like it had been smoothed over excessively in the translation. It just sounded wrong without the hard edge it had on the FC.



It wasn't just that it sounded like shit, they actually took some of the tracks out of the game. I mean, sure, the quality of the music was horrific, but when I found out they rearranged where each one played in relation to the NES original I was not happy. They played the same track in two consecutive stages at the end and they used the Ninja Gaiden 1 boss track on every game.





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"Re(3):Favorite sound programming by system" , posted Sun 14 Mar 07:16post reply

Commodore 64 sid chip. Fantastically advanced. Had a mixture of analog and digital parts.

Me and my brother used to rock out to the intro to skate or die, just loaded up the floppies and headbanged cuz it was so good, not even playing the game.





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