Category Archives: Sound Effects Transcribed

Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest

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.

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NES Noise Patches

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!

Super Mario Bros.

Ever since the NES days, Nintendo’s been king of melodic sound design, and they were already masters of it by the time they made Super Mario Bros. These sounds employ musical ideas in ways that perfectly describe their animations, and even though it’s been 30 years since they first spilled out of a CRT TV’s speakers, they still suit the series perfectly.

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