Posts Tagged ‘Earthworm Jim’

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Earthworm Jim Special Edition – “Junkit” (Tommy Tallarico)

July 23, 2010

Ok, so what’s one of the coolest soundtracks from the early 90s? That would be Earthworm Jim (1994). Now, the original was composed by Mark Miller (ToeJam and Earl, Dark Side of the Moon), but Tommy Tallarico gets credit for arranging the soundtrack (and picking up the reins for the series) with Earthworm Jim: Special Edition on the Sega CD and PC. Earthworm Jim is one of the neatest characters ever put in a game – he’s a giant earthworm inside a super suit, and he fires a giant laser pistol that shoots about a bajillion rounds a minute (I am not making that up). The game had AMAZING animation as well as good gameplay and a great soundtrack. Anyway, you can buy a soundtrack compilation of a whole anthology of Earthworm Jim music from Video Games Live for $15. There’s some pretty zany stuff on there, but also a few good pieces like “Junkit” and “Subterranean”, but the Special Edition version of “What the Heck” was far better. The Sega CD version sells for about $50, which is completely nuts, but thankfully you can just play it on a Sega CD emulator instead of shelling out another $150 to play it on the actual hardware (or just buy the PC version for about $10 used). Umm yeah, you can also buy action figures.

Earthworm Jim Special Edition – “Junkit” (Tommy Tallarico)

The theme is quite earthy, which is kind of what you’d expect from a junkyard – all that low, grungy bass. But the theme also wants to climb to the heights with a wide range of notes played on flute and trumpet (which makes sense, as this level has a LOT of climbing as well as upward and downward movement!). The beat is groovy and the high quality synths add quite a bit. Oh yeah, and you of course have to love that guitar! This really is vgm at its best – great action music to game to (and sounds great on the stereo!).

In contrast, the original Genesis version has a pretty cool gritty feel. There’s a good drum track here (just check those high hats at 1:29!) that works well with the low bass line while the flute and lead synth are both high quality. And what’s up with that weird vortex sound in the intro!? See, you can really create some good stuff with the Genesis given good synth libraries. Honestly, this sounds like something you could find on the Amiga. While ultimately not as good as the arrange, overall, some of the better music on the system and a cool piece.

Oh yeah, another cool thing is the special ending music. Beat the game on super hard mode, and you’ll get this special message from Tommy Tallarico.

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Is it VGM? – Earthworm Jim 2 – “Moonlight Sonata (1st Movement)” (Beethoven)

January 13, 2010

Continuing on the theme of “Is it VGM”, I present the famous “Moonlight Sonata (1st Movement)” as appears in Earthworm Jim 2 for the Sega Saturn (1996). This piece plays in the stage “The Villi People”, aka “Jim’s Now a Blind Cave Salamander” in which Jim has to disguise himself as a salamander to sneak inside the enemy base. Jim is vulnerable outside of his super suit and in this sequence has to navigate a treacherous bio-cave where the undulating walls of villi are dangerous to the touch, enemies bob erratically through narrow passages, and pinball bumpers threaten to fling the hapless worm to the walls. To make matters worse, in the latter half of the stage, visibility is limited to only a tiny sphere of light. All these elements work together with the meditative nature of “Moonlight Sonata” to build tension incredibly while also giving a sense of humorous sophistication due to the ridiculousness of the situation, not unlike Loony Tunes’ “Rabbit of Seville”. Below is a clip of the song in context as well as a copy of the MP3 off the game CD. I am going to go on a whim and say this was performed by Tommy Tallarico, though it’s composed by the master Ludwig von Beethoven.

Earthworm Jim 2 – “Moonlight Sonata (1st Movement)” (Ludwig von Beethoven)

Moonlight Sonata” is a brilliant and meditative musical tongue-twister. The sequence of notes variating on the theme is often unexpected, leaping about the keyboard with surprising rapidity, at times feeling yet held together by that very same theme.The interplay of left and right hand added to the mix is a big reason why “Moonlight Sonata” is one of the most difficult piano pieces to play. Additionally, the slow meter of the song and the emphasis on particular notes puts the listener into a trance, completely absorbed by the full aural glory of the piano, submerging in the dark waters beneath the moon’s reflection.

Public domain music has been used in game soundtracks since the beginning. Gyruss (Arcade, 1983), Master Builder (Atari 2600, 1983), Parodius (MSX, 1988), Kid Icarus (NES, 1986), and recently Eternal Sonata (XBox 360, 2006) use whole or partial songs from popular and public domain music. Read the rest of this entry ?