Impressive VGM By Year: 1984
If you'd prefer a YT playlist featuring the top 40 OSTs, click here. Scroll down for the laserdisc audio list.
Marble Madness (ARC, YM2151)
So here's the first use of FM synth in a chiptune-based game soundtrack (probably, though Cycle Mahbou (ARC) was released the same month), 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.
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. I've read that they're also affected in some way by what you're doing in the game but this seems to be incorrect as the in-game music is just a separate drum track.
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.
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.
The Tower of Druaga (ARC, Namco 8-channel WSG)
Spy vs. Spy (C64)(slight remix, original (in-game)), NES ver. (1986)
Aerobics (Atari 8-bit)
Star Force (ARC, 3x SN76489), NES ver. (1985)
Break Street (C64) - electro funk/breakdance
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, as well as the variety of tracks for the time. 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.
Pitfall II (C64), Atari 2600 ver. (custom 4 channel chip), Pitfall II (ARC, 2x SN76496 at different clock speeds, 1985)
Pac-Land (ARC, Namco 8-channel WSG)
Jet Set Willy (C64)(Beethoven), Spectrum (Beeper)
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)
Montezuma's Revenge (Atari 8-bit)
Flight Path 737 (C64)
The Staff of Karnath (C64)(Classical?)
Boulder Dash (Atari 8-bit), C64 ver., MSX (1985)
Wizardry (AII PC (SD Music card/YM2413/OPLL FM? or midi with FM sounds added), 1984-1987?), NES ver. (1987)
Tube Panic (ARC, 3x AY8910 at 1.248 Mhz)
Archon II (C64)(same as A1 but shorter)
Trollie Wallie (C64)(Gershon Kingsley - Popcorn, Jean Michel Jarre - Equinoxe 5)
While a very short game, its OST has a surprising amount of variety in its three fleshed out tracks.
Robot Demo (Atari 8-bit Demo)
Fairly notable as an early experiment in focusing on changing the texture of one or more simple loops rather than using a more traditional pop or classical arrangement. A similar approach to Mad Planets from the year before but here used on the SID chip, it foreshadows some of the stranger stuff composers would get out of it later on.
High School Graffiti Mikie/Mikie (ARC, 2x SN76496)(Beatles covers)
Equites (ARC, AY8910 w/ OkiMSM5232)
Ice Climber/Vs. Ice Climber (NES/ARC) - 1985?
Black Hawk (C64)(Wagner - Valkyrie)
SonSon/Son Son (ARC, 2x AY-3-8910/YM2149)
Bull Fighter (ARC, AY8910? w/ MSM5232)
Loco (C64)(Jean Michel Jarre - Equinoxe 5)
Gemstone Warrior (C64)
Binary Land (MSX, AY-3-8910), NES ver. (1985)
Seven Cities of Gold (C64)
Dragon Buster (ARC, Namco 8-channel WSG)
Dimension X (Atari 8-bit, 1986?)
Circus Charlie (ARC, 2x SN76489)
Punch-Out!! (ARC, N2A03)(different)
Girl's Garden (SG-1000)
Flicky (X1, YM2149), ARC ver. (2x SN76489)
Alley Cat (PCjr, Tandy 3 Voice/SN76489 variant)
Bruce Lee (C64)
Karate Champ (ARC, 2x AY-8910 at 1.5 Mhz)
Bank Panic (ARC, 3x SN76489 at 3.86712 Mhz)
Seafly (ARC, AY-3-8910? w/ MSM5232)
Conan (Atari 8-bit)
Below the Root (C64)
Do! Run Run (ARC, 4x SN76496 @ 4 Mhz)
The Death of an Apple (Atari 8-bit Demo)
Gyruss (Atari 8-bit)
Grobda (ARC, Namco 8-channel WSG)
Buggy Challenge (ARC, 2x AY8910 w/ MSM5232)
Lode Runner (ARC, AY-3-8910)
F-1 Race (NES)
Antarctic Adventure (MSX, AY-3-8910), NES ver. (1985)
Magical Tree (MSX, AY-3-8910)
Outer Zone (ARC, AY8910 w/ MSM5232)
Victorious Nine (ARC/PC-88, YM2203 (1985?))
Roller Jammer (ARC, 3x AY8910)
Super Pipeline (C64) - 1983?
The Undoukai/Field Day/The Athlete (ARC, AY-8910 w/ MSM5232)(Offenbach - Can Can)
Mr. Do's Castle (Colecovision, SN76489)(in-game)
Mr. Do's Castle (A2600) - polyphonic, 1984
Gyruss (Colecovision, SN76489)(in-game)
Rock 'n Bolt (C64)
WarGames (Colecovision, SN76489), Rock 'n Bolt (Colecovision)(in-game), Cabbage Patch Kids: Adventures in the Park (Colecovision, SN76489)(in-game), Pitfall II (Colecovision), Spy Hunter (Colecovision), Realm of Impossibility (Atari 8-bit), Dr. Seuss: Fix-Up the Mix-Up (Colecovision, SN76489), Three Stooges in Brides is Brides (ARC, AY-8910), Urban Champion (NES), Vs. Golf (ARC, RP2A03), Star Wars (Colecovision), Bump 'n Jump (Colecovision, SN76489)(in-game), Fortune Builder (Colecovision), Ice Climber (PC-88, OPNA PSG only) - 1985?, Hogan's Alley (NES), Excitebike (NES), Clu Clu Land (NES), Up 'n Down (Colecovision), Bluemax 2001/Blue Max: 2001 (Atari 8-bit), Duck Hunt (NES), From Out of the Jungle: Tarzan (Colecovision), Wild Gunman (NES), Illusions (Colecovision), Daley Thompson's Decathlon (C64)(YMO - Rydeen), Monkey Academy (Colecovision), Victorious Nine (ARC, AY8910 w/ MSM5232), Devil World (NES), Pinball (NES), Tapper (Colecovision), Summer Games (C64) & Decathlon, Pac-Man (NES), Zenji (Colecovision), Journey to the Centre of the Earth (C64)(Madness - House of Fun remix), Kung Fu (NES), Galaxian (NES), Tennis (NES), Donkey Kong 3 (NES), Nuts & Milk (NES), Lode Runner (NES), 1942 (ARC), Xevious (NES), Cycle Mahbou (ARC, OPN)
Final Legacy (Atari 8-bit, Dual Track Tape)(played while loading the game) - re-find
Deus Ex Machina (Spectrum/C64, Casette Tape started at the same time as the game by the player)
Cobra Command (ARC, Laserdisc)(in-game), Ending
Firefox (ARC, Laserdisc)
Starfighters/Star Fighters (MSX, Laserdisc)(in-game), Intro (mono) - Beware the loud noise from the right speaker up until 2:40 and after 5:30 up until 7:43.
Thayer's Quest (ARC, Laserdisc)(in-game)
Strike Mission (MSX, Laserdisc)(in-game) - Umi Yukaba?
GP World (ARC, Laserdisc)
Badlands (ARC, Laserdisc)
Ninja Hayate (ARC, Laserdisc)(in-game)
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