Posts Tagged ‘Chris Huelsbeck’


Last Hope – “Desert Lab ~ Dark Fear” (Rafael Dyll)

July 27, 2010

Last Hope (2007) was one of the final games released for the Sega Dreamcast (as well as Neo Geo). The game is a shmup in the style of R-Type and Pulstar – and is infinitely more difficult (if such a thing was possible…). Essentially, the game does everything possible in order to kill you within five seconds flat, so as a result, you rarely hear more than a tiny bit of the soundtrack at once. The soundtrack was composed by Rafael Dyll (Soldner-X: Himmelsturmer) and was packaged with the limited edition version of the game (which is a bit odd, considering the game uses redbook audio, too…).

Last Hope – “Desert Lab ~ Dark Fear” (Rafael Dyll)

Dyll’s work on Last Hope is very reminiscent of that of Chris Huelsbeck, which is not very surprising, considering the German composer is influenced by Huelsbeck’s work (in fact, some of the track titles, such as “Katakis” and “Freedom” are borrowed straight out of his oeuvre). Both soothing and mysterious, “Desert Lab ~ Dark Fear” is a nice trance piece, with a deep bass reminiscent of R-Type and Apidya (actually, the overall beat feels a bit like “Stickerbrush Symphony” as well), and a synth line that adds tension and mystery. Dyll’s instrument set is also very close to that of Chris Huelsbeck’s arrange albums, with electric synths that seem to glide from the speakers and a rhythm straight out of Huelsbeck’s Apidya mixes (particularly the break at 2:23). The entire piece is over 8 minutes long (just like an old Amiga song), but with a long loop and nice variations, it never gets old. It’s great if you’re into electronica, and you’ll eat it up if you’re a Huelsbeck fan. Overall though, despite the similarities, the soundtrack is pretty original, and really more an homage – or rather a rebirth – of the music of the past.

An odd thing about this game is that it had an extremely low print run. Only 60 copies of the Neo Geo version were produced, and the limited edition with the soundtrack CD for Dreamcast was hand-numbered at 500. Thankfully, the soundtrack will be released this October 1 (10110) in Europe for 12.95 Euros (about $17US – better get it while the Euro is weak!). It will include 7 remix tracks.


Turrican II: The Final Fight – “Title” (Chris Hülsbeck)

March 3, 2010

Today (March 2) is Chris Hülsbeck’s birthday. He is now 42 years old. I hope he can compose music for at least another 42 years. This is because he is one of the great game music composers of our time. Hülsbeck’s career began in 1986 when his composition “Shades” won first place in the German 64’er Magazine. This was during the roaring beginnings of game music, after Monty on the Run and Super Mario Bros. had been composed and Metroid and Zelda were making their debut. While Mr. Hülsbeck has created dozens of amazing soundtracks, including his latest, Symphonic Shades (2008; a five-star album if there ever was one), the soundtrack that sticks in my mind is the Turrican series. While the Title Theme to Turrican II: The Final Fight (1991) appears in remixed format within the Turrican Original Video Game Soundtrack (1993) inside a medley of other Turrican 1 and 2 music, as well as an amazingly masterful version on In the Mix (2000), the original Amiga MOD version still sounds really cool almost 20 years after its composition. Doesn’t this title screen just make you want to go out and buy the game? (too bad it is out of print!) You can get the Turrican II soundtrack (as part of Turrican Evolution) along with a lot of other goodies from the Turrican SETA.

Turrican II: The Final Fight – “Title” (Chris Hülsbeck)

The Turrican II “Title Theme” has an amazing beginning – I’ve included here a video to show the piece in context. From the opening notes to the finish, you know you are in for an amazing treat as the Turrican soldier emerges from outer space, leaving fire and destruction behind him. The main theme (beginning at 0:30) has the strong, bold notes we’ve come to associate with hero and action music, inspiring while simultaneously giving to the player the powers of confidence associated with the music: you are not simply watching the hero, you are the hero. And if that weren’t enough, the driving beat of the snare recalls not only gunfire (done exceptionally well in the title theme to the original Turrican), but also builds intensity and tension, urging the player to hop in already and play this game. As the main theme develops, every instrument seems to get a solo from the drums (2:16) to the marimba (5:49). As such, the theme covers all the bases of an action game, providing the feel not only of rising into battle and intense combat but also exploring exotic environments (something that was done very well in the orchestral remix from Symphonic Shades).

The Turrican II “Title Theme” is an excellent example of how Amiga music was composed. Read the rest of this entry ?


The Great Giana Sisters – Soundtrack (Chris Huelsbeck)

November 10, 2009

Today’s Daily is actually kind of sad. I just heard this morning that classic game designer, Armin Gessert, passed away on Monday. His most famous game was The Great Giana Sisters (Commodore 64, 1987), in which he collaborated with Manfred Trenz (art), and Chris Huelsbeck (music). Despite being a highly reviewed title, The Great Giana Sisters was notorious for being pulled from store shelves due to its many similarities with Super Mario Bros. It was unofficially distributed through disk copy channels to quickly become an underground classic. Gessert created other classics such as Great Court (1989) and Robin Hood: The Legend of Sherwood (2002). He later went on to found Spellbound Studios where he was working on a remake of The Great Giana Sisters for the Nintendo DS when he died. He had spent 25 years in the industry.

The Great Giana Sisters – Entire Soundtrack (Chris Huelsbeck)

The soundtrack is full of charm. It makes me smile. It really does! Chris Huelsbeck manages to pull some fantastic sound effects out of the C64 chip, proving that he was one of the great composers for the system. Not only is there technical virtuoso here, but the music is also charming. It has a great feeling of platformer exploration as well as a sense of epic adventure that Huelsbeck is so good at conveying. I actually don’t think there has been a release of the entire soundtrack, so I figured I’d just make one. I don’t have the track titles though so I think I’ll have to find out where each piece is used… Read the rest of this entry ?