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8-Bit Mondays: VVVVVV – “Potential for Anything” (Magnus Pålsson)

June 14, 2010

VVVVVV is a classic C-64 style indy game for PC and Mac that is a really cool cross between a Castletroid and C64 action game – BIG map to explore with portals leading to different areas. Each room is a puzzle where you must switch between normal and reverse gravity to move past obstacles. The music is also amazing. The game itself sells for $15 (that’s the cost of only three Starbucks for you cheapos) and the 30-min soundtrack (called PPPPPP) is an AMAZINGLY cheap $4. It’s by Magnus Pålsson (aka Souleye) and his style is lo-fi tunes with catchy melodies – just the sort of thing that made all those classic NES and C64 games memorable. Trouble is – and this is something Pålsson states – chiptunes grasp more the nostalgia factor and so aren’t as easily accessible to newer audiences. If you’re not from that period, you might want to give this a shot anyway as it’s some of the best chiptunes out there.

“Potential for Anything” seems to be regarded as the best track in the game. It’s used in the first main section and is a very memorable piece with strong, hummable melody built through repetition of small sections (something common to games of the period, but also makes it more memorable) and strong, long notes. Pålsson also uses amazing layering in his tracks, with multiple themes that interweave to create a rich texture. The instruments also produce a sense of atmosphere that Pålsson says was inspired by Zelda II and Mega Man (as well as Street Fighter). However, this piece seems more in line with pieces from Donkey Kong Country 3, such as “Hot Pursuit” and “Cavern Caprice”. Other really good tracks on the album are “Pressure Cooker” and “Positive Force” which sounds more like an NES track than the others.

Magnus Pålsson is a Swedish composer who makes chiptunes in the style of the C64. Original Sound Version scooped an interview with him where he talks more about his music and the composition of the soundtrack.

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