Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Where are they now? - Allister Brimble

Allister Brimble composed the soundtrack for Chris Sawyer's Locomotion

Just the other day I gave a listen to an old favourite game soundtrack of mine: Chris Sawyer's Locmotion. Yes, I know the game wasn't a hit with the Transport Tycoon fans and admittedly, I found the game a bit too fiddly compared to the original (probably due to the game sharing too much in common with Rollercoaster Tycoon instead) but I still have a soft spot for it, especially when we talk about the soundtrack. While the original game's soundtrack by John Broomhall is very good and I'm still waiting for when he finally decides to release his reworked Transport Tycoon tracks as an album, the composer for Chris Sawyer's Locomotion, Allister Brimble, did something really choice; he composed music in the style that was popular for each era of the game. That's really hard to pull off since I suspect composers are usually good at filling a certain niche but it's almost impossible to cover a multitude of musical genres - but that's something that Brimble manages to achieve. Ragtime, jazz, rock 'n' roll, prog rock, funk, synthpop and modern electronica all make an appearance on this soundtrack and it definitely hits the right notes.

So while I was enjoying the Locomotion soundtrack, it got me wondering what Mr Brimble has been up to recently - and when did he get involved in this game music composition business?

Well turns out that Brimble was born in London in 1970 but it wasn't until the mid-1980s that he started to develop music for games professionally. In 1987 the game Thunderbirds was released on the Amiga, the first commercial game he composed music for (although MobyGames claims the game was released in 1989). Brimble would continue to compose most of his music for home computers during the 1980s and early 1990s, especially the Amiga platform. One of his most loved soundtracks is the one he composed for 1989's Alien Breed. The first DOS game he composed music for was 1992's Superfrog (another game by Team 17) and the first game I've played where I got an opportunity to hear his music was 1993's Body Blows Galactic (yet another Team 17 game). The music he composed for the game, especially the main theme ("Come on!"), was on par with a lot of dance music of the era and reminds me of the Mortal Kombat theme aka Techno Syndrome by the Immortals. Coincidentally, he ended up composing the music for the home computer version of Mortal Kombat as well.

Brimble continued to work as a composer and sound designer on a whole variety of platforms but his final PC game that he composed a soundtrack for was, you guessed it, Chris Sawyer's Locomotion! He did work as sound designer on more recent PC games but never again as a composer (apparently).

Around 2005 I believe he started Orchestral Media Development (OMD - no, not Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark) with another video game composer and sound designer called Anthony Putson. I only say I think the company started around this time because the copyright on their homepage is from 2005-2015 (so 10 year anniversary this year, yay!). OMD apparently offers "custom sound design from original source material..." and "full dialogue/voice over management".

Brimble has continued to work on game audio to this very day and now has over 400 games under his belt (wow! That's a lot of games - and he must be wearing a big belt) . While he's still working as a composer, and even now is working on games aiming to be delivered later this year and in 2016, it would be nice if he got back to developing a soundtrack for a PC game :).

Monday, August 31, 2015

Choicest VGM - VGM #195 - Wing Commander: Privateer - New Constantinople

Soundtrack composed by: Laura Barratt, Marc Schaefgen and Nenad Vugrinec

The following track plays at one of the unique locations in Wing Commander: Privateer, a large space station called New Constantinople. Apparently you've got to do some missions that involve transporting contraband there. You can sell just about anything at the station but the only thing it really produces is art (which apparently sells well at Pleasure Planets). Consequently, it's probably no surprise that New Constantinople serves as the capital of the Gemini Sector and is the hub for all political and cultural events.

The music is graceful and beautiful with the harp used extensively. I also think there's a bit of oboe in there too (although it's hard to tell with MIDI instruments sometimes ;)).

Thanks to C75 and WCNEWS for providing these memorable tracks.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Spotlight Sunday - Week 36 - 2015

Spotlight Sunday is a way for Choicest Games to feature PC games that are scheduled for release on the following week - games that we consider worthwhile checking out.

This week (31st August to the 6th September 2015), unlike last week where there was only game that caught my interest, there's four for this coming week with a good mixture of indies and AAA titles:

NOBUNAGA'S AMBITION: Sphere of Influence

  • Release Date: 01/09/2015
  • Availability: Steam - Not available for pre-order
This is actually a series that's been around for quite some time and Koei is a Japanese game developer that has lots of experience when it comes to strategy games. In fact, this is the fourteenth NOBUNAGA'S AMBITION game and they've been developing games since the late 1970s. Sadly, my experience with Koei games has been rather brief, the only games I've really played being Genghis Khan II and one of the Uncharted Waters games but both of my experiences were good ones, so I'm always keen to see what they're releasing next. One reason why I haven't played many of their games is that the games don't tend to be translated into English but in the case of this next release, it apparently will! Set during the Warring States or Sengoku period in Japan, your job as one of the warlords is to unite Japan as one nation.

Sphere of Influence screenshot

Renowned Explorers: International Society

  • Release Date: 02/09/2015
  • Availability: Steam - Not available for pre-order, GOG - Not available for pre-order
Wasn't there already another game about the great age of exploration released recently? Seems to be a popular topic! Anyway, this game is apparently a "strategy adventure game" and your job is to assemble a team that can use "beauty, brains or brawn" in order to resolve encounters and ultimately secure treasure in an alternate 19th century. Sounds like it could be fun.

Renowned Explorers: International Society screenshot

Act of Aggression

As mentioned in an earlier post, Steam is still the way to go if you want the cheapest price on Act of Aggression. The game is made by RTS veterans, Eugen Systems who were responsible for such games as Wargame: Airland Battle and Act of War: Direct Action. Act of Aggression promises to transport you back to the good ol' days of RTS games and is meant to be a tribute to Command & Conquer: Generals. I was a big fan of C&C: Generals and it even made #47 on the Choicest Games Top 100, so any game that claims to be targeted at that demographic is a winner in my books.

Act of Aggression screenshot

Company of Heroes 2 - The British Forces

  • Release Date: 03/09/2015
  • Availability: Steam - $10.39 USD
I still haven't fully experienced Company of Heroes 2, only playing a couple of multiplayer matches and only managing to get to the third level of the single player campaign, but I'm somehow excited by the prospect of playing as British troops in this upcoming stand-alone multiplayer expansion. Apparently according to some chart on the Steam store page, the British Forces suit a more defensive play style, tend to have average size armies, tend to neither be specialised or a jack-of-all-trades and tend to have a mid-late game advantage - so definitely not a side to pick if you like to rush!

Company of Heroes 2 - The British Forces screenshot

So are you interested or excited about any PC games being released next week? Which games are you looking forward to?