Impressive VGM By Year: 1984
If you'd prefer a YT playlist featuring the top 30 OSTs, click here.
Cobra Command (ARC, Laserdisc)(in-game), Ending
Thayer's Quest (ARC, Laserdisc)(in-game)
Marble Madness (ARC, YM2151)
So here's the first use of FM synth in a chiptune-based game soundtrack, the first chiptune-based game soundtrack in stereo and, arguably, the first ambient track in a chiptune-based game soundtrack (Level 1). Pretty cool. Stylistically this one is a little unusual in that it goes for more of a classical music emulated sound in most tracks, which is reminiscent of a Warner Bros. cartoon but perhaps darker and weirder. The OST is also fairly long and with relatively long tracks for chiptunes at the time. On the downside the attempt at electric guitar in a couple of tracks is rather painful to listen to, and the FM percussion is a kinda weak but hey, it's literally the first attempt with this chip.
Ghostbusters (C64), Atari 8-bit ver.
A solid rendition of the theme for the time, also featuring a decent voice sample at the start. What's cooler though is that the player can actually trigger this sample at will while the song is playing at the title screen. Besides that, there's not much else to it as the theme keeps playing until you beat the game and it's interrupted by a garbled sample of a scream.
Ballblazer (C64, 1985?), Atari 8-bit ver., Atari XE ver. (1987)
Several creative techniques are used here: Bass+backbeat drum and chords combo, echo, modulation, slides, a variety of instrument envelopes and fleshed out, "free jazz" solos. Apparently these solos are actually generated by the game itself as you play, and also affected in some way by what you're doing in the game.
Spy vs. Spy (C64), NES ver. (1986)
Balloon Fight (ARC, N2A03), NES ver. (1985)
Tanaka's early 80s songs were pretty simple and so is this OST, but at this point I would say he was intentionally shaping a minimalistic and playful style that also suited the games he worked on rather well. Sound design-wise the main difference here is in the drums, which use noise and a square wave for short and snappy sounds that he would later re-use in Gyromite and a few other games. There's also a neat little tom solo in the middle of the bonus stage theme here, which was split into two parts for the extended NES version.
Star Force (ARC, 3x SN76489)(added reverb), NES ver. (1987)
Bomb Jack (ARC, 3x AY-8910 at 1.5 Mhz)(BGM 1=Ringo no Mori no Koneko Tachi cover, BGM 3=The Beatles - Lady Madonna)
Pitfall II (C64), Atari 2600 ver. (custom 4 channel chip), Pitfall II (ARC, 2x SN76496 at different clock speeds, 1985)
Firefox (ARC, Laserdisc)
Jet Set Willy (C64)(Beethoven?), Spectrum (Beeper)
Pac-Land (ARC, Namco 8-channel WSG)
Lazy Jones (C64)(Nena - 99 Luftballons, Visage - Fade to Grey, possibly Electronic Ensemble - It Happened Then)
This one's notable for featuring seamless transitions between tracks as the player moves between rooms, although they're all the same tempo and have similar structure. It also features chorused basslines (by pairing up two channels playing the same notes and detuning each slightly), which gave them a richer sound later associated with the system. It is still pretty basic sounding though, not featuring any varied note lengths or percussion.
Montezuma's Revenge (Atari 8-bit)
The Staff of Karnath (C64)(Classical?)
Flight Path 737 (C64)
Archon II (C64)(same as A1 but shorter)
SonSon/Son Son (ARC, 2x AY-3-8910/YM2149)
Boulder Dash (Atari 8-bit), C64 ver., MSX (1985)
GP World (ARC, Laserdisc)
Wizardry (AII PC (SD Music card/YM2413/OPLL FM? or midi with FM sounds added), 1984-1987?), NES ver. (1987)
The Tower of Druaga (ARC, Namco 8-channel WSG)
Aerobics (Atari 8-bit)
Elite (C64, 1985?)
Break Street (C64)
Robot Demo (Atari 8-bit Demo)
Black Hawk (C64)(Wagner - Valkyrie)
Trollie Wallie (C64)(Gershon Kingsley - Popcorn, Jean Michel Jarre - Equinoxe 5)
Loco (C64)(Jean Michel Jarre - Equinoxe 5)
Tube Panic (ARC, 3x AY8910 at 1.248 Mhz)
High School Graffiti Mikie/Mikie (ARC, 2x SN76496)(Beatles covers)
Gemstone Warrior (C64)
Binary Land (MSX, AY-3-8910), NES ver. (1985)
Seven Cities of Gold (C64)
Girl's Garden (SG-1000)
Flicky (X1, YM2149), ARC ver. (2x SN76489)
Dimension X (Atari 8-bit, 1986?)
Circus Charlie (ARC, 2x SN76489)
Alley Cat (PCjr, Tandy 3 Voice/SN76489 variant)
Bruce Lee (C64)
Ice Climber (NES) - 1985?
Karate Champ (ARC, 2x AY-8910 at 1.5 Mhz)
Bank Panic (ARC, 3x SN76489 at 3.86712 Mhz)
Dragon Buster (ARC, Namco 8-channel WSG)
Conan (Atari 8-bit)
Below the Root (C64)
Do! Run Run (ARC, 4x SN76496 @ 4 Mhz), Lode Runner (ARC, AY-3-8910), Tower of Druaga (NES), The Death of an Apple (Atari 8-bit Demo), Antarctic Adventure (MSX, AY-3-8910), Grobda (ARC, Namco 8-channel WSG), Gyruss (Atari 8-bit), F-1 Race (NES), Magical Tree (MSX, AY-3-8910), Victorious Nine (ARC/PC-88, YM2203 (1985?)), Final Legacy (Atari 8-bit, Dual Track Tape)(played while loading the game), Deus Ex Machina (Spectrum/C64, Casette Tape started at the same time as the game by the player), Bluemax 2001/Blue Max: 2001 (Atari 8-bit), Roller Jammer (ARC, 3x AY8910), Ice Climber (PC-88, 1985?, OPNA PSG only), Three Stooges in Brides is Brides (ARC, AY-8910), Urban Champion (NES), Vs. Golf (ARC, RP2A03), Clu Clu Land (NES), Hogan's Alley (NES), Excitebike (NES), Duck Hunt (NES), Wild Gunman (NES), Tennis (NES), Pinball (NES), Donkey Kong 3 (NES), Cycle Mahbou (ARC, OPN),