Jets’n’Guns – “Hero” (Machinae Supremacy)January 10, 2010
“Hero” is one of the few lyrical vgm tunes that plays during gameplay and it is from the classic PC shmup, Jets’n’Guns (Rake in Grass, 2004). This was explained by the level taking place at a concert for the game’s soundtrack composers, Machinae Supremacy. The band themselves is even replicated as small 10px tall sprites at the end of the level. The player engages the security forces guarding the concert, blowing up soldiers and spectators alike: reviews from the concert claim it to be ‘the best ever!’
Jets’n’Guns is a comedic, tough-as-nails space shooter for the PC and Mac. The game has a strong aesthetic for biplanes and zeppelins while also including sporty racecar-spaceships, floating guns, and space bugs. The game also has a ton of Metal Slug-esque humor arising from a profusion of explosions and tiny, messily-exploding soldiers as well as humorous characters, signs, and other oddball humor (the title screen advertises it as ‘The ultimate fiery and bloody experience”). All the sprites are prerendered and the game has some fantastic particle effects. The full version is available for $29.99 as a download and is well worth it (though I’m surprised the price hasn’t dropped as the game is a bit old).
“Hero” was originally composed independently of Jets’n’Guns and is available as a free download from the band’s website. The band Machinae Supremacy had been known at the time for their combination of chiptunes and rock guitars and especially for remixing C64 songs. This style was a perfect fit for the retro feel of JnG. Since the completion of the game, however, Machinae Supremacy has become a very popular – and expensive – band, and so Rake in Grass could not afford to hire them to produce new tracks for the Gold expansion set. Incidentally, the entire soundtrack is also available for download from Machinae Supremacy’s website (minus the new tracks from the Gold edition).
Some of Machinae Supremacy’s lyrics have this sort of ’emo teenage male’ fed on angst and the wish fulfillment provided by edgy media. However, this piece works very well inside Jets’n’Guns because this simplistic narrative is essentially what the game is about (that and blowing up a giant mile-long space cannon to kingdom come). Adding the concert and the band was a nice touch as well. At the end of the level, the player remains flying above the band, listening to them finish the song, as kind of a recognition. The length of the song and the length of the stage both go hand-in-hand as a song designed to match the events of the level (more or less successfully), a type of orchestration that shooting games seem to do best.
They try to beat me
but they will not ever defeat me
This time we’re on my battlegrounds
I’m gonna win, trust in me
I have come to save this world
and in the end I’ll get the grrrl!
I’ve missed it, so twisted
and unsurpassed in my head
This sense of power has awakened in me
I feel I could take on the world
a day like this
my rage is brewing like a storm
And now the storm has grown
out of control
Right here, the voice of anger
Cause now the fire
in our hearts explode
Baby, let’s blow this joint
and build our own
Sometimes you just need to
level everything with the ground to
make room for all the things
you wanted somehow
And I have known it all along
the day is coming
when you will reap your evil ways