- Dec 19, 2012
I don't think that's unique to the NES. I've played quite a few Japanese computer games at this point and they all suffered from the exact problem you're describing. Even on the FM Towns, which came with a CD drive, so all games had CD-quality music, had a game that the music was exactly as you describe.Which highlights something: NES-music is composed according to strict order, with heavy supervision from corporate Nintendo. It's there to just sound, not to be music or experimental. It's almost an afterthought that the music might be better than the game. (Notable example of such an exception: "Moon Theme" from the first 'DuckTales' game.)
The few NES titles I like (comparing to C64 music) were from companies that bothered to push extra chips in their cartridges just to add more samples to their games ie Konami, Sunsoft, Capcom to a small extent, Megami Tensei 2.No music here, but an observation.
For the past few months I've been listening to old video game music, on various systems.
I recently did a stint on music made on the C-64 and its infamous SiD-chip, and I was amazed by the variety and quality of music I was hearing. I wanted to hear more. (I did learn to turn down the volume though, as the sound gets really grating.)
But more recently I've been listening to music made on the NES and it's equally infamous APU-chip... and I had to force myself to listen through the tracks I had lined up, and completely skipped out on looking for further music.
I felt this was strange, so I sought answers.
It wasn't a burnout of chip-based music in general, as I took a pause during the C-64 music and came back refreshed, while I needed numerous pauses with the NES-music, just to get through it.
So it's something about the NES and the music. Both chips sound very similar, so that's unlikely.
But I think I've found it: It's the composition style.
Most of the exemplary C-64 music is written by Europeans (Brits to be exact) while the NES-music is mostly all written by Japs. And they have differing approaches to composing music.
The Europeans go for sprawling melodies with structure, mostly only constrained by available memory. A minute or two is normal, though 17-minute monstrosities also exist. The Japs, however, go for short, catchy audio loops. Some of these can be as short as 4 seconds, but most tend to be around 20 seconds. It's rare to see a NES-tune that doesn't loop and runs longer than a minute, but when you see them, they're called 'Ending/Credits/Staff Roll' 90% of the time. (And when you do find exceptions to this, it's because the tunes are written by Europeans.)
Which highlights something: NES-music is composed according to strict order, with heavy supervision from corporate Nintendo. It's there to just sound, not to be music or experimental. It's almost an afterthought that the music might be better than the game. (Notable example of such an exception: "Moon Theme" from the first 'DuckTales' game.)
Meanwhile the European (SiD) music does whatever the fuck it wants, and often the music outpaces the game. 'One Man and His Droid' is a crap game, but dat tune...
Conclusion? The APU-chip may be the more powerful sound chip, but the SiD-chip has the better music.
The real interesting bit is what's ahead: I have a playlist of FastTracker-tunes (.mod from the Atari ST/Amiga) lined up, along with a playlist of Sega Genesis-tunes lined up. Those may give me a deeper insight into this.
Anyway, back to the YT-links.