We Love Indie Game Music

By: Derek Yu

On: November 27th, 2010

Plants vs. Zombies Soundtrack

I don’t know how it is where you are, but over here the Christmas tunes have already started creeping out of the tinsel-covered woodwork! In light of this, I thought I’d share some of the things in the world of indie game music that have brought holiday cheer to me recently. It really feels like it’s been a stand-out year for indie game composers, who are doing some amazing things in this community. Have a listen!

Plants vs. Zombies OST – One and half years after the release of Plants vs. Zombies, composer Laura Shigihara has been given permission to put out the game’s soundtrack, which includes both English and Japanese versions of her hit song “Zombies on my Lawn”. Laura is also working on Melolune, an RPG based around the concept of collecting song fragments.

Super Meat Boy OST – This little game called Super Meat Boy got released recently. Dunno if you heard about it, but Danny Baranowsky did the soundtrack for it, so I guess that makes it okay in my book. Not only that, he raised $2,500 for multiple sclerosis research by selling it!

Videogame Music in Context: DVD Interview Series – Game music journalist Jeriaska is working on an amazing project: he wants to put together a series of DVDs about video game music that includes interviews with some of the most recognizable names in the field, like Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu and Cave Story creator Daisuke “Pixel” Amaya. On top of that, Jeriaska is working with Locomalito to release a 2-disc CD soundtrack and remix album for the popular shmup Hydorah. LET’S HELP MAKE THIS HAPPEN!

VVVVVV OST – Magnus Pålsson, also known as “Souleye”, wrote some really catchy chip music for Terry Cavanagh’s VVVVVV. The album, which is appropriately named PPPPPP, is so very good.

Hero Core OST – Likewise, Brother Android’s epic-sounding, somber, and lo-fi soundtrack for Daniel Remar‘s Hero Core fits the game’s mood very well.

HyperDuck Music Studios – Chris Geehan and Dan Byrne McCullough of HyperDuck Studios did the soundtrack for Daniel Remar’s Iji, and even though the game came out in 2008, I think the music deserves a special mention here (especially since it’s only recently gone up on the group’s new Bandcamp site). These days, the talented pair are working on a number of projects, including Dust: An Elysian Tale, and a high-quality remake of the Iji OST.

Superbrothers: Sword&Sorcery EP I know I’ve posted this before, but man, I can’t get over this beautiful collaboration between Superbrothers, Capy Games, and musician Jim Guthrie. Coming soon to iDevices near you, hopefully.

Osmos OST – Hemisphere Games’ Osmos (which is now on iPad) happens to have a fantastic soundtrack that was released for free this year. Featuring music by Loscil, Gas 0095, Julien Neto, and High Skies, this album is suitably chill to go with Osmos’s serene atmosphere.

GunGirl 2 OST – I’m going to be perfectly honest and say that this is not what I was expecting when I read “GunGirl 2 soundtrack”. But Josh Whelchel is a impressive figure in the indie game community, having composed memorable soundtracks for Bonesaw and The Spirit Engine 2. Josh also organized Songs for the Cure, an anthology of music by indie musicians that has raised thousands of dollars for cancer research.

Machinarium OST Limited LP Reissue – In case you missed out on the limited release of Tomas “Floex” Dvorak’s lovely Machinarium soundtrack on vinyl, a reissue is being printed and will be shipped on December 8th. If you want one! Here’s a preview of 6 of the 14 tracks on the LP.

Pause Plus – Eirik Suhrke, aka “Phlogiston”, is a frequent collaborator with indie game developers (including myself!), and also runs Pause Music, a label for independent and chiptune artists. Recently, he did the soundtracks for jwaap’s Super Crate Box and Lazrool’s Warlock Bentspine, both of which you can find in the Pause Plus catalog.

Alec Holowka – My buddy Alec is always so busy! Aside from the Aquaria soundtrack, Alec has released some songs from his new project, Marian, as well as a compilation of music he composed for games by Kyle Pulver. On top of that, he’s started an awesome series of informal podcasts with other developers and built an indie arcade machine, the Winnitron, with some of his fellow Winnipeggers (flashes “W” gang sign and gold necklace with diamond-encrusted maple leaf on it).

IGF Audio Award Jury Announcement – And finally, one of the more welcome changes being made to IGF next year is the inclusion of special panels for each award. The jury for the Audio Award was announced recently, and the line-up is pretty awesome.

Many thanks to the TIGForumers who kindly volunteered suggestions for this post in this thread. Please let me know in the comments what you’re listening to these days!

  • http://s.hryx.net/ hryx

    This is so many correct. I hope you do it every year.

  • http://randy.heydon.selfip.net/ Randy

    Does Alec own a mirror piano, or does he just live in a mirror world?

  • http://ortoslon.makgam.com ortoslon
  • Sophie

    You've forgotten to mention Julian Winter's incredible good work for Alchemia. (It must not always be chiptunes ;-) ) http://www.iimusic.net/plus/2009/09/rock-art-ep

  • Mlaskus

    AI War soundtrack by Pablo Vega is also worth mentioning.

  • Ithamore

    The music of Osmos is great even though the in game soundtracks are merely samples of some of the best spacey, ambient music I've heard.

    By the way, Gas 0095 (one of the artists in the Osmos BMG) is still running a promotion for free copies of his High Skies: Sounds of Earth album. http://microscopics.co.uk/spreadtheword.html

  • Tyetheczar

    ZUN counts as an indie developer and musician, and he deserves a spot here. Fairy Wars FTW!

  • Keith Burgun

    Gah! You forgot the 100 Rogues soundtrack! Anyone who enjoys the melodic, thematic music of the SNES era RPGs should check it out.

    http://dinofarmgames.bandcamp.com/album/100-rogues

  • MisterX

    I totally forgot to mention the excellent Shatter soundtrack made by Sidhe:
    http://sidhe.bandcamp.com/album/shatter-official-videogame-soundtrack

    Frankly, the game itself doesn't interest me very much (Despite being very good from what I've heard!), but I love listening to the music.

  • MisterX

    Oops. Honour to whom it's due: The soundtrack was actually composed by Module!

  • A Simons613

    Digital: a love story, has great music.

  • LoBear

    Don't forget the awesome soundtracks for Nifflas Knytt, Knytt Stories and Saira, some awesome music in there. http://nifflas.ni2.se/?page=Music

  • g-man1996

    Shocking that bit trip is not on this list!

  • rinkuhero

    “One and half years after the release of Plants vs. Zombies, composer Laura Shigihara has been given permission to put out the game’s soundtrack”

    i love supershigi and her music is awesome, but when something like this happens and a musician has to work for a year and a half to sell their own music, i think it's safe to say this is not in the 'indie' spirit, and more importantly is injust; exactly what the community rejects about mainstream game practices. popcap still has major problems it seems, although i guess this is an improvement over cloning puzz loop

  • http://www.derekyu.com Derek Yu

    Yeah, I kicked myself a bit (heh) for forgetting to include it. I'll probably do a follow-up post with people's suggestions from this thread.

  • Alex R.

    The piano is backwards?

  • TyeTheCzar

    Well, here's a work from one of his older Touhou games:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zis2TtxdFjQ

  • http://www.playthisthing.com TheDustin

    Play This Thing Loud ripoff. /cheesy grin

    As Derek said, there's tons of talented musicians in our little corner of the net. Cheers!

  • srduncan

    i decided to actually start to listen to the music discussed on the thread. ( i haven't been as dedicated to digesting indie game stuff recently ) I LOVED what I heard from the plants vs. zombies. I even played the game, and payed special attention to the music. I loved it, and had a greater appreciation for the TALENT in the indie game world. great post derek. mad props.

  • http://hyperduck.co.uk Chris Geehan

    Thanks for this post Derek! And the feedback in this thread gives such a wealth of incredible composers too, we also deeply appreciate the recognition and any love/support we receive from this community, I don't think we would be any further along if we hadn't have found TIGSource. So thank you again.

    Chris.

  • http://blog.mostlytigerproof.com/ mostlytigerproof

    You might be interested to know Module did a soundtrack for our iPad remake of Zen Puzzle Garden. I believe it'll come out after the game gets through Apple's review process.

    zenpuzzlegarden.com

  • Phubans

    My GOD, that Sword & Sorcery game looks beyond fantastic… I don't have any portable devices, but I hope that this gets ported to WiiWare or something…