Ernest Pike continues to contribute 50% of the entire traffic to this site – who knew that this obscure singer would prove so popular?
Anyway, an email from a nice chap called Bart tipped me off to two more recordings available through UCSB’s The Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project: The Green Isle Of Erin and Do You Remember The Last Waltz?.
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You could, I suppose, download the entire High Voltage Sid Collection, SidPlay for Windows (or MacOS, or the WinAmp plugin) and listen to everything and decide your own. Or you can follow my idiosyncratic, biased and – at times – insultingly abusive list to find your favourites. (Disclaimer: other ratings lists, such as the HSVC Top 100 or Best Of Various, are available.)
OK, so here we go…
9. Phantoms Of The Asteroid by Rob Hubbard
Hull’s favourite son (well, apart from William Wilberforce, maybe) wrote this lovely set of choonz for a Mastertronic £1.99 game of the same name. Interestingly, they’re all in 4/4 and have an obvious break every 256 frames. Nice…
8. Rasterscan by Jason C Brooke
JCB’s first appearance in this top ten. Rasterscan was an obscure budget game, which featured no enemies to speak of, only obstruse and arcane puzzles that were a pain to solve, a control method that was more fiendish to master than Wizball and a gameplan that was no good if your were even remotely colourblind. That said, I started playing to listen to the soundtrack. Then I got into it and it was one of those games where entire hours go by and suddenly… it’s three in the morning. But if I could only just solve those other two puzzles…
7. Morpheus by Steve Turner
Probably the worst game complete sequence of all time (about four seconds), plus a game that – as Braybrook said in his “Mental Procreation” column in Zzap! – has a spaceship that shoots toothpaste. Never mind, it was good fun cracking the protection with my Expert Cartridge.
6. Snowball Sunday by Lou Gray
Who was Lou Gray? Why was the only thing he ever wrote released on a demo on Compunet? How come that one is over 37 million places better than the best thing I ever wrote? Inquiring minds want to know. Incidentally, Snowball Sunday is quite seasonal, so enjoy…
5. Melt Your Brain by Oliver Klee
Released at a demo party, MYB uses three IRQs (or was it four?). If you don’t know what that means, just ignore it and enjoy. I had a “whose stereo an play loudest” competition, playing this tune, and ruined my speakers. True story.
4. Wizball by Martin Galway
Number one on many people’s lists, this must have been one of the first multiplayer games of all time. I hit 999,999 with two different friends playing “cat” to my wizard, and I managed 999,640 on my own – on a black and white TV, which is even more remarkable bearing in mind how colour-oriented this game is. But just listen to the high score music and you don’t want to play again. Which is a shame, because it’s a really playable game…
3. Kentilla by Rob Hubbard
A strange text adventure that I never got the hang of. But then, with quarter of an hour of the best almost computer music anyone ever made on any platform, ever, why worry? It did include a section that sounded like a homeless person wheezing on his last cigarette before begging change from some callous bloke in a suit who will undoubtedly express his opinion that the other person should gain employment at the earliest possible opportunity. But given the limits of the SID chip, you’re talking genius level here. Actually, even without those limits you’re still talking genius.
2. Krakout by Ben Daglish
Good game. Perhaps not as good as Arkanoid. But better music. Don’t get me wrong. Arkanoid is about 11. Or 12. Perhaps 13. But Krakout… I find myself returning to this one over and over again. It has two or three good tunes in there, really cracking (or should that be kraking?) good choonz. Anyway, this is my list. Don’t like it? Write your own list then. I’m not going to tell you what my favourite is if you’re going to be like that.
Oh, all right then…
1. Pi R Squared by Jason C Brooke
The game involved picking up formulas from a bunch of spinning circles. You could slow yourself down or speed yourself up, or choose to change to another circle, but that was about it. Zzap! 64 rated PR2 about 40% I think. Much underrated.
The only complaint I ever had was that the levels were too short. About three minutes for the level, but seven or eight for the music. Even more annoyingly, the tune played on the title screen was only about the first twenty seconds of the main tune, which rapidly becomes annoying. So not only do you have to play the game to hear the beautiful music, the title screen will put you off it forever if you don’t start playing pretty quickly.
But is it the best piece of music for the C=64 ever written?
Well, in my opinion, yes. However, this is a list of “my favourite”, not “the best”. So in true cop out fashion, I’m afraid you can’t disagree with me, because it’s my favourites. Of course, you can come up with your favourites and post them on your blog and say they are “the best”, but that won’t make them my favourites, no matter how much you want them to be. Because these may not be “the best”, of course, they’re just… well, you got it. Sleep well.