This post discusses one of the most important relationships in all of sound design: filters and distortion!
Battery has a simple random articulation setting under the apt moniker of Geiger Counter. Here’s a short post to explain how to get the most out of it.
It’s easy to forget about the simpler tools in any bag of audio tricks. We all want to reach for a nice distortion plugin, or an expensive compressor, or some complicated EQ sculpting, but sometimes all that’s needed is basic volume envelope editing.
This is just the beginning of my look at the sounds in the NES Mega Man games. I want to break down a lot more of the Special Weapons to see all the different approaches they used. But first, I’ll go over some of the simple sci-fi techniques the games use.
Say what you will about Simon’s Quest’s shortcomings, but its sound design is some of the best on the NES. Unlike the first game, with its ridiculous number of generic, tonally inappropriate pickup sounds, Castlevania II succeeds at creating satisfying, organic sounds that help flesh out the creepy world you’re exploring.
The NES’s noise channel doesn’t actually generate random noise. It plays back a 32767 bit long sequence at 16 different speeds. Which means we can recreate it semi-accurately in a sampler!
This Kontakt multi patch has two instruments – one on MIDI channel 1 for the long noise setting (which loops the entire sequence) and one on channel 2 for the short noise setting (which loops 93-bit sections of the sequence).
I also made this Reaktor ensemble, which provides more variety in the short noise setting but lacks Kontakt’s excellent anti-aliasing tech. I’m going to try to get into Max next to see if I can create a best-of-both-worlds version.
Both ZIPs have a MIDI file showing which notes correspond to the original 16 speeds, though you’re free to play notes the NES couldn’t.
Special thanks to FamiTracker, which I used to render out a hi-res version of the sequence!
Why Sonic 2 instead of Sonic 1? Because Sonic 2 has a sound test! Hurray for sound tests!
To this day, Zelda games continue to take a highly musical approach to their sounds, each effect a little composition. It’s what makes the sounds so memorable and iconic! It also provides some excellent lessons in just how melodic you can be in your sound design.
Metal Gear’s sound design is an interesting mix of imitating real world sound effects and recreating spy movie-style musical cues in 8-bit. It manages to find that great balance between serious and lighthearted that’s been a series hallmark ever since!