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!