Last year was the first I really spent experimenting with indie games. Not that I frown at games without a big budget, but there just haven’t been many that captivated me until a great friend of mine sent me a demo for VVVVVV, making the bet that I would buy it afterward. I thought he was full of shit too until I finished the demo and promptly headed to steam to play what I consider one of the best games of last year, indie or not.
Part of the magic is in the music. It’s easy to please the retro crowd by composing chiptune tracks on the merit of nostalgia alone, but Souleye managed to put together a collection that sounds refreshing and proves that there is still a lot of directions that chiptune music can expand.
The official soundtrack is also of excellent quality, designed in such a way that you can set a track to loop infinitely, and the transition is seamless unlike others that fade out and offers only a distraction when you want to just lay back and listen to the same thing for hours on end. I highly recommend getting it if you enjoy the youtube examples to come.
This is probably the song you’re going to hear the most in the game. Especially if you happen to be going for collecting all the orbs…. Variation is what sets this track from sounding like a traditional platformer. There are a couple of main melodies that repeat, with different supporting instrumentation each time, keeping the interest when listening to this track for long periods.
The main overworld theme begins surprisingly dark in tone, with the main melody in a relatively low register. It’s cool when the melody moves to the higher pitched square wave, but the darker moments are what really give it character and that feel of exploration. Switching between dark and light/bubbly segments keep this piece less stable and more interesting.
I can’t help but think of this song whenever I hear Predestined Fate. Yes, I’m a dork, bite me. Where this track shines is in the percussion, carrying on an almost ostinato pulse accented by short xylophone sounding runs. This piece also seems mathematically savvy with the precision that all the tones fall into place.
My favorite track in the game. The structure is a simple enough A-A-B-A. You have your 8 bar opening, your sections divided into 24 measures each with 4 bar transitions between them. Yes, I counted. The A sections carry a wonderful melody, as expected since it takes up most of the body of the piece, but it’s the B section where Souleye really shows his chops. In the upper range, you have the strangely nostalgic rapid passage coupled with a dance like melody going on in the lower range that comes out beautifully in the end.
When it comes to 80’s music, I love it extra cheesy. Pressure Cooker, starting with its triangle/cowbell sound and short crescendo within the opening phrase leaves me with the impression of those old songs. The main melody clearly gives the impression of a vocal line, the catchy groove in the background cementing everything into a trippy and enjoyable mid-game track.
Hope you enjoy, and if you haven’t yet, really give VVVVVV a look — I got it on steam for like 5 bucks, so it isn’t a major setback or anything.