Friday, July 26, 2013

BIT.TRIP.RUNNER: Game Music vs. Original Soundtrack

As I've recently said, I've been playing a lot of BIT.TRIP.RUNNER in an attempt to finish the one game in the BIT.TRIP series that I feel I actually can beat.  I'm not holding out at all that I'll beat VOID or CORE, so RUNNER it is.  With so many hours spent on the last two levels of the third world (Triumph), I've had a lot of time to think about how the music changes subtly each time you start back at the beginning and how that can change the music experience for each person.  Tack onto that the then difficulty of making a soundtrack for a game where the player can ultimately decide how they want the song to develop.

Especially in the third world, you are offered multiple paths, some lead to more gold bars which have their own musical tone/cue while others might lead to jumping a gap and sliding under a flying chunk of rock, which again, has their own musical tone.  Add onto all of that if you picked up the + which further develops the music.  In 3-10 "The Beginning of the End," I started to intentionally miss the first + because I preferred the way the song developed after the long hallway with the triple beats-from-hell.  I was basically creating a song while playing a video game.  That my friends, is pretty awesome.

Let's get back to the official soundtrack now (which you can listen to in it's entirety over on Gaijin Games' bandcamp page).  Aside from Anamanaguchi's title track "Blackout City," and "Mermaid" which plays over the credits track, the remainder of the music is a reimagining of sorts of the music heard in each of the worlds.  There are elements from the main song in each world, but they don't seem to be as developed as the songs are in-game.  The songs do progress along a similar path though, from rough/basic beats to full on melody to finish with the calming tones of the EXTRA level of Commander Video.

Upon first listening to the soundtrack, I admit that I was a little disappointed that the music I was hearing reminded me of the game, but I didn't feel the same excitement as when I was playing.  I wanted to hear the music that I had created while playing.  What I could do is find a "walkthrough" on youtube (where there's no bloody talking!) and just rip the audio and boom, I've got a copy of the music straight from the game.  But, where's the fun in that?

Part of the experience of B.T.R. is creating entertaining and catchy music while playing a very challenging rail-platformer.  The music from the soundtrack is just foreplay to me sitting down and playing the game, which I just put down after 20 minutes on 3-11 "Rusty Warren."  This is something that is very much apart from most other music/rhythm games which punish you if you don't play the song exactly as it is supposed to be played.  Yes, B.T.R. is very much a challenging game that is ripe with punishment, but it only punishes your lack of reflexes, not your desire to create and develop.  And again my friends, that is awesome.


P.S.  Precursor Games started

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