Archive for November 3rd, 2010

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Tunnel B1 – “Intro” (Chris Huelsbeck)

November 3, 2010

Chris Huelsbeck is known for a bit more than just Turrican, though arguably, many of his games are fairly obscure. Take Tunnel B1 (1997), for example. A combat flight game reminiscent of Descent, the game sends you deep into an underground base to destroy a superweapon before it blows up the earth.

The album is characterized by the plucking of strings coupled with martial drums that send you through the caves at high speed. Brass is used for emphasis but also melody, as in the “Intro” theme. This establishes the main theme for the game, long, rumbling brass notes evoking vast underground chambers and enormous tunnels that disappear into the gloom.  There is both fortitude and an overwhelming sense of looming disaster – you’ve got to get this job done, or nobody else will! The fate of the world is in your hands, so pilot that ship and save it!

Tunnel B1 saw an amazing orchestral arrangement in Symphonic Shades (Mr. Huelsbeck’s best album?). The piece actually opened with a solo by bongo master Tony Barak that transitions smoothly into the track’s opening. The bongo prelude actually reminds me of the spartan, focused action of those early Amiga games and I feel this captures the spirit of the times. A medley of several pieces, the Tunnel B1 arrange hinges primarily around the “Intro” (main theme) and “Oceanos“, the second main level theme. This demonstrates some of the diversity of themes – though usually attaining a martial quality throughout. Due to its quick pace and loyalty to the source material (as well as bongoes!), the Tunnel B1 medley easily ends up as one of the favorites from Symphonic Shades.

Tunnel B1, as with most of Mr. Huelsbeck’s other soundtracks, is available through iTunes. The album contains several arrangements by the European demo scene, and as with most of these remix tracks, the majority are downright disappointing (despite having listened to the album dozens of times, I don’t think I listened to some of these even once in their entirety). The exception is Chip Holland’s arrange of the “Intro”, which takes the voice narration from the prologue cutscene and mixes it in with intense drums and brass – reminds me of Blade Runner actually. Of course, another option is if you have a copy of the game sitting around on your dusty shelf, Tunnel B1 actually used Redbook audio, so you can just pop it into your CD player.

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