The British IBM: The Top 5 Alternative Games Soundtracks
Their latest video features games enthusiast Iain Lee, they released their latest single on the anniversary of the founding of Intel and they've previously put out music on a 3.5" Floppy disc, so I think it's fair to say that The British IBM are comfortable with computers.
To celebrate the release of their latest (self-titled) album, we asked them to talk about their 'Top 5 Alternative Games Soundtracks', which should bring back some good memories (depending on how old you are).
Space Quest (Sierra 1986)
Back in the days before PCs had soundcards fitted as standard all audio came thru the internal beeper, which meant games developers had their work cut out for them when they were attempting to score their latest creations. One such game that this era gave birth too was the legendary graphical adventure going by the name of Space Quest. The limited palette of the internal beeper actually seemed to compliment the main theme to this legendary space romp and I've only got to hear the first two notes and I’m instantly transported to a pixelated galaxy in which I'm bartering for droids and negotiating the harsh terrain of a faraway planet.
The Secret of Monkey Island (Lucasarts 1990)
By the early nineties soundcards were becoming more popular amongst PC gamers and with the platform sharing many games with the Amiga, which already had it’s own built in soundcard, games developers were actually beginning to utilize the skills of "proper" composers. Michael Land was employed by Lucasarts to compose music for a host of video games but one of themes he’s probably most well known for is the theme tune to this highly playable point and click pirate adventure game. The atmosphere of this swashbuckling pirate adventure is set straight from the offset by Land's composition. The game opens with the sparkling Lucasarts logo and an ominous sounding organ which leads you into an almost orchestral Caribbean, reggae theme just as the main title appears on screen along with a panoramic nighttime view of Melee Island.
Space Invaders (Taito 1978)
Just two notes played over and over again at varying speeds in an almost Zen-like simplicity make up the soundtrack to one of the most iconic games of all time. What it may lack in melody it more than makes up for in atmosphere and a sense of increasing urgency as the alien ships descend. Just one more note would have been overkill.
Gods (Bitmap Brothers 1992)
The game wasn’t actually that great but it was almost worth purchasing just for the title screen music. I vividly remember friend coming over with a stack of floppy disks and telling me I had to install it. When I finally got it loaded on my PC I could see why he was so excited, the game music actually resembled a real life proper song! It was made up of a fairly limited array of drum and vocal loops but it was nonetheless a song and not a bad one at that.
Jet Set Willy (Software Projects 1983)
Manic Miner was good, but this was better! Games programmer Matthew Smith did a hell of a job with his first platformer and was also allegedly one of the first developers that managed to crack the technical difficulties behind ingame music. This artform was perfected in this insanely addictive and slightly twisted sequel that seemed the dominate my BBC Micro years. As soon as I think of this game I’ve got that beeping, demonic version of 'If I Were A Rich Man' stuck in my head.