I’m starting something new this week: 8-bit Mondays, where I’ll be covering some classic chiptune music from the games of yesteryear. Today is the first major classic of the Commodore 64 era, Monty on the Run by Rob Hubbard (1985). As mentioned earlier, this soundtrack really demonstrated to musicians electronic and otherwise that vgm could be something really awesome. However, just as Koji Kondo repeatedly states that Super Mario Bros. is remembered today for being such a great game, barely a gamer remembers Monty on the Run today except for its music, considering the gameplay was average platforming at best (in case you’re curious, the game is about a mole who is being chased by the authorities for his role in the UK Miner’s Strike of 1984-85). In fact, it’s possible the title (and afterward, any Rob Hubbard title) sold more because of the music! Anyway, now you can hear what the fuss was all about!
Monty on the Run features a fantastic set of “recognizable instruments” (for the time and hardware) including a violin section, “hand clapping,” and of course the C64’s famous arpeggios/chords (that ringing sound). There really hadn’t been much else like it at the time and was truly a breakout moment for vgm. More practically, the main theme is quite catchy, with some great variations and a nice buildup, providing great atmosphere. If there’s any downside, it’s that the song does get a little tedious after about four minutes, which is probably why the C64 album, Input 64, contains only a four-minute version. There is certainly something to be said for the standard pop song length, which has sort of defined what listeners are willing to hear – though I suppose if you’re playing a game four hours on end, you’ll want something a little longer anyway. This version is encoded directly from the SID file using foobar2000 and is recorded in mono.
The C64 had severe limitations compared with other hardware on the market such as the Famicom/NES, MSX, and later the Commodore Amiga. Read the rest of this entry ?