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Thread: The Pulstar soundtrack will be getting a Vinyl & CD release soon

  1. #76
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    My comment was about those commenting the difference between the AES/NGCD ver. being minimal...mono vs stereo looks to me a pretty huge difference, enough to justify including both, one to offer the "original", the other for the quality/improvements.
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  2. #77
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    The CD version is the original, while the AES is just a watered down version of the very same music. Hence I was questioning the inclusion in the first place.

    If you compare CD and AES soundtracks of other games there is a whole different listening experience from time to time (Sonic Wings 2, Tengai Makyou Shinden etc.). It just isn't there with Pulstar.


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    Quote Originally Posted by suicidekiller View Post
    The CD version is the original, while the AES is just a watered down version of the very same music. Hence I was questioning the inclusion in the first place.

    If you compare CD and AES soundtracks of other games there is a whole different listening experience from time to time (Sonic Wings 2, Tengai Makyou Shinden etc.). It just isn't there with Pulstar.
    I think in general it's a good thing to include both versions even if there difference is minimal. Some people just are happier with it that way myself included.

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    There's no reason to include the cart version. But logic is not driving the need for this vinyl release anyway

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    Quote Originally Posted by suicidekiller View Post
    The CD version is the original, while the AES is just a watered down version of the very same music. Hence I was questioning the inclusion in the first place.

    If you compare CD and AES soundtracks of other games there is a whole different listening experience from time to time (Sonic Wings 2, Tengai Makyou Shinden etc.). It just isn't there with Pulstar.
    I believe the reason is consistency. I tend to think of the MVS/AES version as the "original" for few reasons, but I understand for certain games post-94, the development process may/probably had the NGCD ver in mind since day 1 (somethign that was obviously not in place for titles before the advent of the NGCD, for which I guess "original" can only mean ROM) , still I disagree saying that NGCD for Pulstar should be considered the (one and only) reference.

    Nether-less, it would be an interesting debate indeed, given that the "best" version of certain games music, in terms of creativity freedom for the artist, could have been actually not the ROM one....I'd start trying to understand the process SNK had in place, and confirm that the ROM ver was indeed a "conversion" from the CD one, otherwise we can only speculate.

    From a preservation prospective I think we can agree that the Scitron version back in the days was expected to bring both versions. If your point is specifically for this release, I can understand it, but given the nature of these operations, leaving out the the ROM version would have been seen as missing the whole retro-nostalgia exploitation point anyway?
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    But in the case where the cartridge music is just an ADPCM recording, then isn't the full quality version the original? Simple as that.

    If it isn't chiptunes being generated by the YM2610, why do we even care?
    Last edited by Neo Alec; 09-20-2019 at 04:33 PM.

  7. #82
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neo Alec View Post
    But in the case where the cartridge music is just an ADPCM recording, then isn't the full quality version the original? Simple as that.

    If it isn't chiptunes being generated by the YM2610, why do we even care?
    I agree it would be an interesting debate, probably should we call the full version OST for NGCD but AST for ROM? still OST for ROM is the ADPCM record, so if something is marketed as OST of a game with different versions, it should keep both IMO.

    I'm fine with the audio mastering process being "simple as that" but for the sake of the conversation, still you may say the loading screens in the NGCD makes the experience a "non original" one? So first of all, let's agree on which version of the game is the "original"... the one released first? the one without loadings? the one with full audio tracks? then we can talk about OST (whatever music quality the game had) which for ROM it is what it is, independently of other versions.
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  8. #83
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    On a (I guess) more interesting note, can we compile a list of ROM pre-ngcd games (rearranged only after) post-ngcd chiptune and post-ngcd ADPCM?

    it would be interesting I guess understanding how many "lazy jobs" like Pulstar have been made.
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    massi, I must say your posts are hard to understand sometimes (no offense). Going from some catchphrases I'm trying to answer your post(s).

    The arranged soundtracks were produced after the original soundtracks. This was clarified in this interview with YAMAPY-1. This is an interesting fact and that question always enthused me until finally there was a proof in bespoken interview. It was probably different with other sound teams at the time like Zunta, Alfh Lyra etc. as their members often were composers and performers in one. SNK instead had just a short lived in-house band (Shinsekai Gakkyoku Zatsugidan Special Band) which acted under this name only in '94. Most of the arranged albums instead were recorded by professional musicians who were hired from album to album. Still many of them recorded for SNK on a regular basis but they had nothing to do with the composing (as the interview proves).

    Concerning Pulstar this is a whole different story - there just is no arranged version of the soundtrack. The ROM version has a compressed version from the master tapes because the AES hardware couldn't handle the original, while the NGCD could. So why do we have to bother listening to a inferior version when the original is at hand? It can only be for nostalgic reasons and therefor it's okay to include it with this release. From a audiophile stance it's redundant.

    Another interesting game I'd like to bring up is Matrimelee. It suffers from the very same problem as Pulstar - the hardware couldn't handle the sheer amount of data from the original and ADPCM compressed music had to be used. Interestingly the game received an updated version for the PS2 where composer Toshikazu Tanaka finally was able to introduce the full potential of the soundtrack and what he probably composed in the first place. It's called "Full Chorus Version" and luckily was released on CD too. So in that light the Neo version of Matrimelee wasn't just a watered down version of the original soundtrack, it was even inferior to what the composer had in mind in the first place. That doesn't diminish the quality of the soundtrack per se but it shows us the boundaries and limitations the composers had back in the day.

    To conclude these remarks I'm just going to listen to the Pulstar LPs again now and delight myself with this wonderful piece of music - be it lo-fi, hi-fi, mono or stereo
    Last edited by suicidekiller; 09-21-2019 at 07:26 AM.


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  10. #85
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    Hi, no problem, I often post when outside or at lunch break, and probably in the rush I tend to consider certain things as implicit, while they are probably not, hence the confusion.

    In short, my point is OST= Original Sound Track, therefore it should provide the same music used in the game, simple.

    I see your point of view is mostly about the technical audiophile prospective (where Original seems more about the music composition rather than the game) which I understand, but I tried to introduce more "philosophical" concepts, concerning coherence when collecting... if by Original we mean the AES game, then there is no way the ROM version should be missing, doesn't matter how shitty it is.

    I'm up to debate though, about which version of the game should be considered the Original, at least in the Pulstar case, where the music has been thought clearly first for the NGCD and then simply converted for the ROM (putting the NGCD game possibly at the top of the creative thought process, dethroning the ROM ver, usually at the top of the food-chain.)
    Last edited by massimiliano; 09-21-2019 at 12:22 PM.
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  11. #86
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    Massi, this is not about being an audiophile snob or whatever, it's about what the original composers' vision was at the time of making the soundtracks.

    Stereo has been the industry standard for more than 50 years and, speaking of videogames, if we take out some of the 8-bit era consoles and portables, ALL the composers worked using multitracks which were then panned over the two stereo channels in order to achieve certain effects.

    This is not something which is up for debate, this is hard facts.
    If you want I'll go and look for some old interviews with people who worked on several soundtracks spanning from arcade games to consoles and see how they worked and may even hook you up with some of them (or ask them the question directly).

    They even often composed their soundtracks on hardware which ranged from slightly to completely different from the hardware it would run on (Yuzo Koshiro's works are an example of this, with Streets of Rage among them) and then adapted.

    All of the soundtracks made for Neo Geo were 100% stereo and then downmixed to mono in order to accomodate the hardware configuration.

    Saying that "the mono AES/MVS version" is the *original* soundtrack is dead wrong, because *original* means what the composer actually wrote on his software/synthesizer at the time.
    This is why back in the day some games got a CD soundtrack release, as many consoles/arcade setups were mono only and weren't able to properly reproduce the composer's work.

    I thought this was a topic which was pretty much given for granted, I have to admit I'm quite surprised this point got brought up.
    No offense meant whatsoever, of course.

  12. #87
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    Quote Originally Posted by donluca View Post
    Massi, this is not about being an audiophile snob or whatever, it's about what the original composers' vision was at the time of making the soundtracks.

    Stereo has been the industry standard for more than 50 years and, speaking of videogames, if we take out some of the 8-bit era consoles and portables, ALL the composers worked using multitracks which were then panned over the two stereo channels in order to achieve certain effects.

    This is not something which is up for debate, this is hard facts.
    If you want I'll go and look for some old interviews with people who worked on several soundtracks spanning from arcade games to consoles and see how they worked and may even hook you up with some of them (or ask them the question directly).

    They even often composed their soundtracks on hardware which ranged from slightly to completely different from the hardware it would run on (Yuzo Koshiro's works are an example of this, with Streets of Rage among them) and then adapted.

    All of the soundtracks made for Neo Geo were 100% stereo and then downmixed to mono in order to accomodate the hardware configuration.

    Saying that "the mono AES/MVS version" is the *original* soundtrack is dead wrong, because *original* means what the composer actually wrote on his software/synthesizer at the time.
    This is why back in the day some games got a CD soundtrack release, as many consoles/arcade setups were mono only and weren't able to properly reproduce the composer's work.

    I thought this was a topic which was pretty much given for granted, I have to admit I'm quite surprised this point got brought up.
    No offense meant whatsoever, of course.
    I think you are implying things I didn't say (or at least meant), and no, I didn't call anyone an audiophile *snob*.


    From the ROM *game* prospective, the original music is the one that did end in the game, the one that you *listened to, while playing*...do we agree on that? So my point is the O of OST, means "I'm giving you the same music used in the game/movie" not a stereo/high-sampling version one, even if that was the one used at certain point during production.

    That's why they added both AES and NGCD tracks, because it's a damn OST of both AES and NGCD version, it has to provide the original music for both games, the one that the fan related to while playing.

    Edit:

    no offense taken of course, but rather than patronizing me on the process, please re-read my posts, and try to understand I clearly mentioned many times, that the definition of "Original" is the point, not the technical (audiophile) production details or quality, which seems your only concern. You stated original means what was inside the head of the composer,I beg to disagree, because that's what AST were made for, back in the days, in order to provide the full experience to the fans, which seems to me what you are talking about but mixing the two concepts.


    Again, I'm happy to discuss in case, which version of the game (MVS/AES/NGCD) should be considered the "true" one, but that's a different story, indeed more philosophical, which we can keep for another time.
    Last edited by massimiliano; 09-21-2019 at 05:32 PM.
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    Alright, then we have a semantic issue here which revolves around the meaning of "original" when addressed to a videogame soundtrack.

    I'll leave out the (mostly) meaningless comparison with a movie OST and save us both an headache for another time.

    Your point is that whatever comes out from what customers are able to buy in stores is considered "original" and, as such, if you release an OST, you should put on the CD/Vinyl/MP3 what the customer had in its own hand.

    I just want to let you know I 100% disagree with this, I understand what you're meaning, but from a sensible/semantic/logical/whatever point, no matter how you're looking at, "original" means in its original form, how it was born/invented/created.

    What we get on cartridge it's not original, it's a chopped down version made to sound in a certain way because there'll be sound effects and voices over it.
    That's why OSTs of movies/videogames/etc. exist.

    But, make no mistake, I get your point, but I think that your concept of "original" is, at least, quite misleading.
    Last edited by donluca; 09-21-2019 at 05:16 PM. Reason: grammar is hard

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    Quote Originally Posted by donluca View Post
    Alright, then we have a semantic issue here which revolves around the meaning of "original" when addressed to a videogame soundtrack.

    I'll leave out the (mostly) meaningless comparison with a movie OST and save us both an headache for another time.

    Your point is that whatever comes out from what customers are able to buy in stores is considered "original" and, as such, if you release an OST, you should put on the CD/Vinyl/MP3 what the customer had in its own hand.

    I just want to let you know I 100% disagree with this, I understand what you're meaning, but from a sensible/semantic/logical/whatever point, no matter how you're looking at, "original" means in its original form, how it was born/invented/created.

    What we get on cartridge it's not original, it's a chopped down version made to sound in a certain way because there'll be sound effects and voices over it.
    That's why OSTs of movies/videogames/etc. exist.

    But, make no mistake, I get your point, but I think that your concept of "original" is, at least, quite misleading.
    and I understand your logic, don't take me wrong, but yes, semantics are important as the whole collecting criteria are based on what's considered original and not. Edit: ok, I got what you mean, I initially thought you meant the **arranged/NGCD** version mentioned by others, being the "original" because not bound by instruments limits (the composer vision etc), while you were referring to the "master" used while making the AES/ROM ADPCM file...OK, please disregard my pre-edit reply when specifying the difference between OST vs NGCD/AST, as we are now talking about the final ADPCM file vs the ADPCM "source".

    So, I stop you right there, yes, totally an OST is not a mere dump of the game ROM file (again, it seems that's what you got from me, but I didn't imply that), my point, in reply to some people's comment, is that an arranged/NGCD version cannot be considered "representative" of the ROM game, that's my bottom line, if I hear violins while they were not existing in the ROM game's music, something's wrong...not original..on the other hand, I find a mono version of the ROM music being perfectly satisfying, if it was mono in the ROM game as well, given the preservation aspect of it...genuine.


    anyway, let's talk about the one below now, with regards to the ADPCM "source" in the OST, necessarily in stereo and full fledged "studio", otherwise not original as you say:

    pulstar_OST.jpg

    Now, specifically for Pulstar, that "original" above means:

    -the AES/MVS version
    -mono
    -with clearly a questionable bitrate

    also, listening to it and comparing for quite a bit, I believe it's fair to say there is no tangible improvement from i.e. the unibios jukebox , except maybe for missing SEs.
    Again, I'm not saying such OST is a dump/rip from the cart, I'd expect of course somehow higher bitrate or at least cleaner sound of course, but without tools and listening to both the game and OST files, the difference is intelligible.
    In such case seems to me they kept the (original) music really close, if not the same, to how it did play in the game..fine for me...and btw I'm 99% positive it's the same for the Blazing Star Scitron release.

    Quote Originally Posted by donluca
    Saying that "the mono AES/MVS version" is the *original* soundtrack is dead wrong
    feel free to go and tell Scitron they were dead wrong then, but I guess it may turn out instead, that the landscape likely goes beyond what you are so confidently picturing in here, so let's chill out and do not forget, nobody comes here to teach, we are all here to learn.

    as everything with SNK, for other post-94 games the situation could be different, I haven't compared all my CDs thoroughly honestly... how many are stereo? how many mono like Pulstar/Bstar? my understanding may turn out to be equally limited as well, that's why I created the other thread, so, just come and help me making a list of lazy ADPCM ROM games, so we can compare them with the Scitron OSTs and see.
    Last edited by massimiliano; 09-21-2019 at 11:18 PM.
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    I'll reiterate again that 100% composers didn't make the soundtracks in mono and low bitrate/whatever limitations the hardware had.

    And, just to make it sure there are no misunderstandings on this, I'm not talking about custom arrangements with orchestras and all that jazz.

    The process of composing music in videogames is not as streamlined and simple as you might think. Composers often use synthesizers of their own and create their own multitrack (that is, each track has its own instrument played when required, think drums, guitars, flutes, etc.) files.

    Then this has to be converted so that it can be played back on the hardware the game is being played on, which means that this is the first step where compromises and decisions will be made (do we use the Yamaha 2612 for the drums? Or is it better if we just use ADPCM samples? - for Comix Zone on Mega Drive they decided to use ADPCM for the drums and the result was amazing).

    Of course, when the composer's work gets converted, he has to acknowledge the changes made so that it still sounds proper to him (although, sadly, there have been reports in the past that this was not the case and we got soundtracks which got butchered) or make changes accordingly.

    Finally, there will be other restrictions due to SFXs being played and not enough channels (Street Fighter II on Mega Drive is a perfect example of this), so other cuts need to be made here and there and finally you have the resulting tracks which get played during the gameplay.

    Now, if you're telling me that people have been selling SNK games' OST on CDs with mono tracks with the same abysmal low bitrate they have on original platform, I'd say there could be two options:

    1 - They made the entire soundtrack in house which means that they went and composed straight on destination hardware without any external contribution, but lots of MVS boards are wired for stereo and downmixing stereo to mono, at least for arcade videogames purposes, is a trivial thing to do, so I'm very dubious about this option.

    2 - They went for a really low effort OST to milk some more money out of their customers (which is most likely).

    The advent of the Neo-Geo CD was probably an awkward thing for the SNK games as they needed a reason to sell people the games on their CD platform, so they went for full blown custom soundtracks.

    When I have time I might ask around people I know to see if anyone knows how those soundtracks were made precisely and give you a more definite and factual picture.

  16. #91
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    Quote Originally Posted by Donluca
    The process of composing music in videogames is not as streamlined and simple as you might think
    Edit:
    ok listen, I don't get where you got the idea I even attempted to link the internal process of composing music , which frankly yes, doesn't take Bob Rock to know that the final console receives a different/limited version compared from what they did in the studio, no offense but looks you have a need to reiterate it, while nobody challenged that or even started going down that rabbit hole.
    I believe you made the assumption from my comment about mono=original, that therefore mono=composer. (or you took something I may have said about the *arranged* tracks) so, really, please re-read my comments, because I believe you keep reading my words through your own lenses, but in case I was not clear, I'm telling you now, so I hope we can go past this.

    Said that, I appreciate your attempt to educate the board about the world of composing game music, but it seems your only argument in this thread/conversation, which I remind you, has been so far about Pulstar's soundtrack, where (correct me if I'm wrong) seems they used ADPCM for all the music...therefore all the composer "chops/cut and sacrifices to meet the hardware chips despite using full studio tech" you describe is almost not even applicable?...the whole issue in this and other cases, is indeed that they simply composed as they wanted (NGCD) and just compressed in mono for AES, that's why I called it "lazy".

    what happened is that you challenged my definition of "original", so I brought you a physical evidence of where I took that definition from, feel free to disagree, but it seems you are a bit too concerned in imposing your point/logic and labeling people based on your assumptions, rather than moving forward the conversation constructively.

    So, I still hope you'll contribute to the other thread I made. others started, it's fun, it would be a good use of your knowledge, and again, looks you may even expand it, no shame in it.
    Last edited by massimiliano; 09-22-2019 at 05:11 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by donluca View Post
    I'll reiterate again that 100% composers didn't make the soundtracks in mono and low bitrate/whatever limitations the hardware had.
    See this is the one thing I was 100% sure about since it made no damn sense to have a system play games in mono when Stereo was native to the hardware.

  18. #93
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    I love the Pulstar soundtrack but somehow have no interest listening to it outside of the game.

    I learnt my mistake when I bought the Outrun sountrack on vinyl and have never even listened to it. Some tracks are only worth listening to when you are playing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by massimiliano View Post
    has been so far about Pulstar's soundtrack, where (correct me if I'm wrong) seems they used ADPCM for all the music...therefore all the composer "chops/cut and sacrifices to meet the hardware despite using full studio tech" you describe is almost not even applicable...
    It's kinda silly because this would be a prime example of what I just explained earlier.
    ADPCM is nothing more than standard PCM optimized for voice communication which means that it's standard PCM with less resolution.

    PCM is just your standard CD Audio quality file (to varying degrees of course, you can sample it the way you like it, from 22Khz 8-bit all the way to ultra high resolution like 384khz 32-bit) which is what the composer ends up with once he's finished composing on his own hardware (ie: synthesizers during that time, nowadays people end up using even real instruments).

    So, let's say that SNK or whatever gave a composer the job to make the soundtrack for Pulstar: you'd see this guy hard at work playing scales and chords on his keyboards jotting down ideas and choosing whatever instruments he liked with various effects applied to them (reverb, delay, phaser, etc.) and finally he'd have his final multitrack file which then he has to export.

    Now, this could lead us to two possible options:

    A - The "modern" way (which, ironically, actually applies to this very case), aka export the entire project to (AD)PCM/WAV/AIFF/FLAC or any other uncompressed format and send it to the game producers. This would then be used straight in the game (or maybe EQ'd a bit so that SFX doesn't clash or gets drowned in the music too much)

    B - The "old" way, which meant that the multitrack file itself would have to be sent to the game producers and they would have to modify it so that the instruments and various effects matches the final hardware (ie: YM2612) instruments and effects. Which is a hard and painful job, but yet someone had to do it. Sometimes it yielded great results, others were absolutely terrible.

    If it's true that Pulstar's soundtrack was 100% done in ADPCM (like most of the Neo-Geo games AFAIK, apart from some early games), then you'd be looking at option A, with the only difference that instead of exporting to, say, a CD quality 44.1Khz 16bit stereo PCM file, they'd have to dither it down to whatever ADPCM frequency and bit depth the Neo used (22Khz, 8bit I assume?) and downmix to mono (basically they just joined the channel while lowering the volume to avoid clipping during the process).

    Now, I admit I don't know much about Pulstar's OST whereabouts, but one thing which may have happened (and unfortunately this happens often), is that the so called "Master", the original multi track file, was lost and they had to resort to extracting the music from the cartridge itself.
    Last edited by donluca; 09-22-2019 at 05:04 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by donluca View Post
    Now, I admit I don't know much about Pulstar's OST whereabouts, but one thing which may have happened (and unfortunately this happens often), is that the so called "Master", the original multi track file, was lost and they had to resort to extracting the music from the cartridge itself.
    and frankly I thought that as well, even if Blazing Star had the same treatment....still it could be an AICOM issue. I mentioned earlier that I'm not arguing other games may have had different solutions, and I'm even trying to shed some light so, again, if you want to contribute, please be my guest.

    I guess it's just another nice thing to do in 2019 when talking about neo.
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    Sure thing, I'll try contacting some guys around who have been working on videogame music back then and see if they know anything or can hook me up with someone who worked on NeoGeo games' music to shed some light on this.

    Besides, you'd be surprised that most of the old arcade games, even if they output only mono sound through the JAMMA edge, they are natively stereo (and I know this because I have some of them in my possession and have modded them to get the stereo sound out . Sega System 16B (possibly 16A as well) and the Konami Xexex I know for sure, possibly many many others)
    Last edited by donluca; 09-22-2019 at 05:30 PM.

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    I can see this conversation went way off in the weeds since I last posted.

    suicidekiller, I agree with you but take issue with your assertion that the hardware "couldn't handle it." Newer games simply used recorded soundtracks so that they would have newer sounding music or perhaps the sound designer simply didn't want to compose for the Yamaha sound chip. Anyway, pre-recorded soundtracks became more viable as memory limitations became less of an issue. "Not being able to handle it" really isn't the correct way to frame the issue. "chiptune" music is just a different beast.

  23. #98
    Southtown Streetwalker

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    Interesting question: what is a video game soundtrack? The one you'll listen to while playing on a hardware with its particular limitations or the one its creator composed while being unbound to those limitations?

    Seems that such 'limitations', if present, can't be ignored that easy, after all it's our time that flows into listening to them while playing. The artists' true intentions are very important, but they weren't what we listened to and/or will probably continue to listen to in the future while playing a particular game on particular hardware.

    As semantics go... in my opinion the intended version can be addressed as original music, everything else is a (con)version of this origin and may be preferred by certain listeners. Including those variants on a release isn't just a nostalgic folly. It represents certain hardware and its users and shows both respect.

  24. #99
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    I agree with Massi on this. But it's just a matter of preference really. Like if I was going to buy Super Mario Bros soundtrack on NES. I wouldn't want the version the guy might have played on his synth/sample keyboard and 8 Track before putting into NES form. Same with Gameboy Tetris - I want it to be what's on the Gameboy not some orchestral version. Obviously I wouldn't buy any of these but I'm just making a point.

    I get Donluca's point thought - that makes total sense too - it's just comes down to what people want to hear.

    Personally I have always preferred AES soundtracks to the NEO CD version. Because you have a 16 bit arcade game with chunky pixels, I like the soundtrack to be a bit rough and chunky too. The CD soundtracks often sound overproduced and smooth, and don't really go with the visuals. Imagine the original Double Dragon with a CD soundtrack. It wouldn't really fit. If you applied a smooth filter to an AES game's graphics - that's the equivalent to a CD version of the soundtrack to me
    Last edited by Missile; 09-23-2019 at 12:37 PM.

  25. #100
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    I believe the confusion between me and Donluca arose because before his first comment, we were talking about ROM vs NGCD/Arranged (why adding both), and I made the comment of how the NGCD/AST ver is not representative for the AES, because the fan cannot relate, even if the NGCD may be "full blown instrumental" as it could have been meant by the artist, if he/she had no constrains.

    Took me a few post to understand he instead focused on the "master" of the ROM ver, which clearly is made in studio with far better hardware/options than the AES chipset, and I guess he took my comments meaning something like "original means a dump of the ROM file", which I later clarified not being the case.

    With regards to that, my opinion is kinda between Missile/Oliver and Donluca, in a way that I believe it's all fair as long the music is basically the one experienced in the game...if it's mono, well ok, if it comes with extra stereo and studio quality, I'm totally fine with that, as long it's not a complete different thing.
    Last edited by massimiliano; 09-23-2019 at 01:07 PM.
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