Wednesday, October 13, 2010

We *heart* the YM2612 - The Arrangements of GeckoYamori

In the past, I've express my love for video game songs arranged in synth for a different console. Each of the 8 and 16-bit consoles/arcades/computers had a very unique sound, and the interpretations made by fans are astounding.

Somehow I came across the works of GeckoYamori on Youtube today, and found a number of excellent SNES songs redone using the YM2612 + SN76489 sound ships found in the Genesis. I know that Nintendo has retrospectively won the 16-bit wars or whatever and the Genesis looked and sounded awful. But, yeah, OK, the SNES sound chip could sound amazing in very particular circumstances, but there's something very hard edged about wailing FM synth guitars and crunchy PCM drums. Personally I think this arrangements are better than their SNES originals, but that's because GeckoYamori did a damn fine job with them.

Here's a bunch of different songs from Super Metroid. Sounds really damn moody.

Here's the first stage of Axelay. Again, totally excellent. Someone in the Youtube comments suggested that the only thing that could make it better would be the orchestral hits found in the soundtrack to practically every Konami arcade game of the early 90s. (And TMNT: Hyperstone Heist for the Genesis, of course.)

Were you disappointed that Sonic 4's music sounded like a Genesis game, except really, really hollow for some reason? This version corrects that. Way better than the official version.

The above (and next two) are from Mega Man X3. I never really liked this soundtrack all that much, but I think it had more to do with the sample programming than the actual composition. It worked great for the style in the first Mega Man X, but both the second and third SNES games sounded really weird. Some of these were improved by the arrangements for the CD versions of X3, but I wasn't a particular big fan of that style. (Here's the SNES and CD versions to compare.) These Genesis mixes really make the songs shine, though. Outstanding work.

MMX3 - Blast Hornet

MMX3 - Toxic Seahorse


  1. Thanks for giving Gecko Yamori the shoutout. The man is tremendous. Never let anyone tell you FM synthesis sucks, guys.

  2. While I enjoyed the remixes a great deal, I greatly disagree with the quality of the original X2/3 soundtracks. The SNES soundtrack for X3 in particular is one of my favorite soundtracks of all time. A lot of people dislike it though, which is a shame.

  3. Those are really cool, thanks. I love the Axelay one, but it'd be hard to go wrong with such an awesome song.

  4. See, I'm quite the opposite. I always found most Genesis music, that Super Metroid stuff included, to sound like really cheap MIDI - badly trying to be real instruments, and failing horribly. I always found that the people who could make good music on the Genesis soundchip were few and far between - and most of the world's supply was taken up by the Sonic Team.

    I prefer the SNES soundchip because it rarely sounds like the blips are trying to be anything, and instead they're just happily low-fi.

    All of this, naturally, is preference, though, and I applaud all the effort this guy went through to make all this music.

  5. These are some great remixes. 8-bit and 16-bit soundtracks are truly great. I came across this guy recently who plays drums over classic 8-bit tracks complete with video. You can see his videos here

  6. I think the problem with Genesis's music is the sounds they were aiming for. There are lot's of things you can do with 4 operators, even fat analog synth sounds, so if they had focused more on the right choices instead of making it sound like a toy, things could've been great back then. Some Sonic stuff was great, though. Green Hill Zone theme is always in my heart.

  7. As much as I love the SNES, I like the sound chip on the Genesis so much more.

  8. I think that the old 4op YMFM soundchips are a good lesson in subjectivity as far as "sounds" are concerned. The guy up there is saying that it sounds like "cheap midi", or the other guy says that they can do "fat analog synth sounds" but that they make it sound like "a toy". To me, the best of the compositions that came out of this hardware has a unique and interesting character, a keen, dirty, cutting sound that's unique to the kind of limitations this hardware put on composers. The "trying to be real instruments" thing that composers would do and the variety of approaches in doing this made some really cool sounds that are cool in their own right, not just as cheap imitations of a real instruments.

    That said, I'm not much of a fan of the default GM banks they'd tend to use in PC games using the Adlib or Soundblaster. Maybe because it gave the games a homogenous, samey kind of sound instead of the unique approaches you'd get with the custom drivers.

    Oh yeah, and these are amazing. I've always disliked the Megaman X3 soundtrack, but these actually make it sound really good.

  9. Thunder Force IV = Evidence that game music on the Genesis can sound godly.

  10. The guy just uploaded another arrangement today, this time in the style of the Thunder Force games:

  11. His stuff is always good.

    Incidentally, although he only uses VOPM in order to make his music, people have actually adapted his stuff for playback on an actual Genesis:

    (It's a pity that the game it's attached to isn't very good.)

  12. Here's a song from Thunderforce V done on the Genesis by otobeya:

    Be sure to check out his other stuff, too. He specializes in cross-platform music translations:

    I LOVE his Game Gear version of Ridge Racer:


  13. The Genesis rendition of Unkai comes very close to the original, no harm done.

    With the right people sitting at the dev kits, the Genesis could come up with some damn neat music.

  14. Genesis could produce decent sound when you had the right composer, but it could never produce anything approaching the caliber of, say, Secret of Mana, Final Fantasy VI, Star Ocean, etc. There was just not as much versatility. It fares better against SNES soundtracks that have more of a cheap and distinctly synth feel to begin with, like MMX3, or a muddled sound like Super Metroid.

    I think a great comparison are the various Konami games that are on both systems, such as Sparkster, Sunset Riders, and TMNT IV, which all sound several degrees better on SNES, as Konami seemed to be one of the few companies willing to put in the effort to get the most out of the SPC700. For some people however FM synth is an acquired taste, and they are partial to it no matter what.

  15. I don't even know if I could agree on that Konami assessment, actually. Sunset Riders was better on the SNES because, in general, the Genesis port was crap. But Hyperstone Heist I think sounds better than TMNT IV - closer to the arcade, which was big on FM synth - and RKA had a better soundtrack than the SNES Sparkster (though the Genesis Sparkster is the loser in any situation.)

  16. I agree about Hyperstone heist sounding better than TMNT IV but this is mainly due to the bass not being lound enough on the SNES in my opinion. It is clearly apparent on the boss theme which sound a lot more "powerful" on Genesis. Also it has some awesome exclusives tracks.

    However, I do not agree with the fact that Genesis is closer to the arcade than SNES. Unlike for example the CPS1 version of SF2 which used the sample sound chip only for drums and sound effects of the game, the arcade version of Turtles in Time use its own sample soundchip for some melodic part of the music in conjunction with the FM sound chip.

    In hyperstone heist, the Genesis is used in a classic way: FM for all the melody and some sound effects + Sample channel for drums and some speeches and sfx. SNES is full samples as usual but with some samples trying to sound like some of the FM instruments from the arcade. So in the end I think none of them is really faithful to the arcade.