|By Bucky||Thursday, 4 Jun 2009|
Developer: Software Creations Publisher: Arcadia Systems Year: 1990 (US)
A top NES music list would be incomplete without an entry from the Follin brothers, and here to represent is Silver Surfer at #27. Allow me to preface this review with a quick link – you need to listen to this track if you’ve never heard it before: Silver Surfer BGM I.
Silver Surfer, although a somewhat obscure and mediocre SHMUP, has become a fan favorite for what is some of the most shredtastic and gnarly Nintendo music out there. There was even a Dwelling of Duels shred competition based on the above track. But behind the ripping leads lies a very thick and impressive production of sound.
For starters, brothers Tim and Geoff Follin managed to achieve a much beefier sound than normal without even using all of the channels. No 1-bit DPCM samples here. What exactly were they doing? Crazy pitch bends on the triangle wave. Between all the bass melodies are bass drum and snare hits tucked in by means of a pitch bend effect, all in one channel. Double that up
with noise, your orthodox channel for percussion, and you’ve got a much bigger sound. That, and lots of arpeggio effects – simulating chords in a monophonic channel by alternating pitches very quickly.
While the Follin brothers weren’t the only ones doing so (Neil Baldwin, Alberto Gonzalez and Jeroen Tel would be some other names to check out), these tricks seem to be characteristic of European composers. “Euro Style” NES music, if you will. This is no doubt an influence from the Commodore 64 sid chip’s sound, which was popular in Europe but not in Japan.
What may have prevented this selection from placing higher is simply the number of tunes. Silver Surfer only has two main background music themes, a couple title screen / hi score themes, and various jingles. There’s not a whole lot there, but what is there is excellent. If you’re fond of this selection I’d recommend some other works from Tim and Geoff, including Solstice, Treasure Master, and Wolverine.
I’ve uploaded the complete Silver Surfer soundtrack to youtube here.