Monday, October 14, 2013

Game Scores: Robin Hood Prince of Thieves (NES)

When you think of the NES game Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, the first thing you might think of is the "debacle" between the Nintendo Power cover and coverage and the actual release of the game four months later.  Okay, maybe it wasn't that much of a debacle that I seem to remember, and that's not even one of the first things that comes to my mind.  I never even received that issue as I had forgotten to renew my NP subscription and this was the issue I missed.  (I recall this happening again and didn't get the Rescue Rangers issue either).  

Back to RH:PoT which was developed by Bits Studio and Sculpted Software and released by Virgin Games back in November of 1991.  The game itself was a lot of fun as it incorporated multiple modes of play.  There was the Legend of Zelda top down exploration mode, there was the side view mode for story specific duals (John Little being a god damn pain in the proverbial ass) and a massive melee mode where all the members in your party engaged in an overhead combat area against a lot of enemies.  It was quite, I think, revolutionary for an NES game near the end of the NES era.

But the reason I bring up this game, is because of the music, composed by English musician Paul Webb.  His credits are somewhat extensive and honestly, his score for PoT is all that I have that he has written, partly because I didn't have access to the soundtrack until a couple of years ago (downloaded from FF Shrine) as there was never an official release of the soundtrack.  So as you can imagine, the audio is just ripped from a port of the game, but it's still 1991 NES quality music, which might be a turn off to some of you reading this, or maybe not, because you are reading this.

Being a huge fan of the Kevin Reynolds' adaptation of the Robin Hood story, I wanted to play the game, and for Christmas in 1991, that dream became a reality.  But again, the music, which you will notice bares no resemblance to the music that Michael Kamen (What is dead may never die) composed for the feature film.  That doesn't mean that the music isn't any good as his music most likely wouldn't translate well for this kind of a game.  Paul Webb's music however, fits the world of 12th century England portrayed in a 1991 NES game as evidenced by the opening title music:

Great stuff.  The music for the melee battles I also really enjoy.  To me, it sounds like a mix between music that you would find in the first Gauntlet game and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  So basically a lot of enemies coming at you all at once that you have to fight off with your friends/companions.

Another short piece that you would often hear is the overworld music once you make your way back to merry olde England.  As with most overworld tunes, they have to be catchy, memorable and able to be repeated indefinitely.  So if you find yourself in 8 bit 12th England, and wandering from one screen to the next, we've got the music for you!

All-in-all, Paul Webb's score for Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is not very extensive.   Comprising only 6 minutes 16 seconds of non-repeating music, not including 42 seconds comprising three tracks (one song and two jingles) of unused music, you certainly wouldn't know it by playing the game.  It doesn't span the length of an Nobuo Uematsu or Howard Shore score, but it does fit the setting of the game and it works.  And in the end, that's all I ask for when thinking about video game music.


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