Occasionally here on Already Heard we like to feature something unusual. With that said we’d like to introduce you to Danimal Cannon. The New York native is known for combining industrial and prog rock elements with chiptune. His new LP, ‘Lunaria,’ is a collection of twisting 8-bit synth and Cannon’s metal-tinged riffs. As a whole it’s a unique, robust and eclectic record that has seen Danimal be compared to The Algorithm, NIN, and Animals as Leaders.
With ‘Lunaria’ set to be released this Friday, we asked Danimal Cannon to give us a retrospective look at five of the best 8-bit game soundtracks of years gone by.
This game is perfect, it’s just as exciting to play today as it was 25 years ago. Enter in the Konami Code for a casual playthrough, or play without it to really test your mettle as an old school gamer. The difficulty is brutal but never unfair. The graphics and music are a testament to Konami’s quality during the 8-bit era, essentially unmatched by anyone except Nintendo themselves on their first party games. The music is absolutely shredding and super catchy, but the Alien Lair theme is a true masterpiece. It manages to jump between 6/8, 11/8, 5/8, and 6/8 again all within a 34 second song, and it still stays groovy. Suck on that Dream Theater!
Listen haters, Megaman 2 is AMAZING, but I gotta go with Megaman 4 here. A lot of people complain about the megabuster charge mechanic, yet nobody seems to mind it in Megaman X. Megaman 3 also might have been able to take the top slot but the end of that game is literally unfinished. The game is a bit harder than Megaman 2, which honestly is a breeze compared to most NES games. The graphics and sound are killer, Bun Bun returns to compose after Megaman 3 and really comes into his own as an NES composer using some pretty advanced sound design compared to most NES era music. Listen to that plucked tremolo effect on the initial pulse lead of Cossack ¾, followed by pulse tomtom pitch slides on the 2nd repetition, and the triangle channel fills on the final section are all over the map!
Super Mario 3
This is THE Nintendo game, the first game to really take home console gaming into modern territory. Huge expansive world, refined yet complex physics, and absolutely loaded with secrets… did you find the anchor? There’s 100 ways to play this game, and is satisfying all the way through. Some NES hipster snobs might leave this game out of their lists since it was immensely popular, but I think it’s a critical entry in the history of gaming. On my track Behemoth (https://soundcloud.com/danimalcannon/behemoth) I ripped off Gustav Holst’s “Mars”, but not before Super Mario 3 did with their airship theme. The DPCM timpani samples chug along allowing all 3 channels to form those complex dissonant chords.
Dragon Warrior/Quest 4
I’m a bit of an old JRPG nut, and Dragon Warrior/Quest was the first. It’s a pretty clunky game, but by Dragon Quest 4 they really refined the console RPG into an amazing game. There’s a complex world revealed through 5 chapters that’s intricately interwoven, something we don’t see much of in games until some of the Super NES Final Fantasy games. The game offers 40+ hours of gameplay on a single quest without significant grinding, which is insane for an NES era game. Koichi Sugiyama masterfully scored the music that includes dozens of songs, one of the biggest soundtracks on any NES game. He’s known for a bit more classical influence than his Final Fantasy composing counterpart Nobuo Uematsu, who tends to more influenced by progressive rock. The castle track “Menuet” shows his master level use of 3 voice melody counterpoint, absolutely gorgeous and regal sounding. Music truly fit for an 8-bit king.
In America, we still play this game all the time, there’s yearly tournaments in multiple cities across the states. It’s just a perfectly made american football game, quick paced, easy to learn, difficult to master. It was the first video game to have the full rosters of NFL teams, so I can tell you a startling amount of detail about the starting lineup of the 1990 Phoenix Cardinals after hundreds of hours of play. Back when the game was released, many studios wouldn’t allow people who worked on games to use their real names in the credits for fear of other studios poaching talent. So composer Keiji Yamagishi was credited as “K.Y. Jets” since his favorite team was the New York Jets and the English language was not their first talent. Despite this hilarious credit, the music absolutely rocks, check out the horns-up-metal dual guitar harmony sounds on the playoff themes!
‘Lunaria’ by Danimal Cannon is released on March 11th on Ubiktune.