SID-licious #3: Zoids

SID-licious is a series of blogs where I post Commodore 64 SID tunes every week. They'll be available for download until the next entry goes up, when I'll be pulling the previous week's files down. I'll probably have the mp3 floating around, though, so if there's some tune(s) you're reading about in a past blog and want to grab a copy, shoot me a PM.

In a digital world where its meaning and usage have been distorted (and even ridiculed), I never use the word "epic" lightly*. But that's exactly how I would describe Rob Hubbard's stirring tune for Zoids. Listening to it today, it's almost as triumphant and moody and futuristic and mysterious as the first time I heard it.

Of course, back then I didn't know that Hubbard had based the music on "Ancestors" by Synergy. These days, even though I'm aware of the pedigree, I still like the Hubbard version more. I don't know if it's because I grew up with his take, linked as it is to one of my all-time favourite formative systems, or if it's just because I prefer the actual sounds of the SID, but his is just the more engaging version to me.

The actual gameplay of Zoids itself was nigh-impenetrable to me as a young boy, and a lack of instructions didn't help matters. The screen is filled with dials and weapons and systems and icons and buttons, all with no text to inform you of their functions. But dammit, the music was so good that it didn't stop me trying. Occasionally, I'd wrestle with the joystick and actually manage to win the battle subgame, and Rob Hubbard's majestic industrial march was there to make sure I truly felt like the victor.

*That said, I'll probably use "epic" again when I talk about Parallax. Don't worry, stick with me and you'll hear it for yourself soon enough.

[ Here's where the music was. I've probably still got the mp3 if you wanna PM me! ]

8 Comments
9 Comments
Posted by buzz_clik

SID-licious is a series of blogs where I post Commodore 64 SID tunes every week. They'll be available for download until the next entry goes up, when I'll be pulling the previous week's files down. I'll probably have the mp3 floating around, though, so if there's some tune(s) you're reading about in a past blog and want to grab a copy, shoot me a PM.

In a digital world where its meaning and usage have been distorted (and even ridiculed), I never use the word "epic" lightly*. But that's exactly how I would describe Rob Hubbard's stirring tune for Zoids. Listening to it today, it's almost as triumphant and moody and futuristic and mysterious as the first time I heard it.

Of course, back then I didn't know that Hubbard had based the music on "Ancestors" by Synergy. These days, even though I'm aware of the pedigree, I still like the Hubbard version more. I don't know if it's because I grew up with his take, linked as it is to one of my all-time favourite formative systems, or if it's just because I prefer the actual sounds of the SID, but his is just the more engaging version to me.

The actual gameplay of Zoids itself was nigh-impenetrable to me as a young boy, and a lack of instructions didn't help matters. The screen is filled with dials and weapons and systems and icons and buttons, all with no text to inform you of their functions. But dammit, the music was so good that it didn't stop me trying. Occasionally, I'd wrestle with the joystick and actually manage to win the battle subgame, and Rob Hubbard's majestic industrial march was there to make sure I truly felt like the victor.

*That said, I'll probably use "epic" again when I talk about Parallax. Don't worry, stick with me and you'll hear it for yourself soon enough.

[ Here's where the music was. I've probably still got the mp3 if you wanna PM me! ]

Moderator
Posted by Mento

Fine stuff. There is something nostalgic about this one, and it's not the Synergy connection. I don't think I ever played Zoids, since I probably wouldn't have been able to figure it out either (I couldn't even decipher how The Sentinel worked.)

I never really paid enough attention to game soundtracks back then, though, so they've all kind of blurred together in my memories. Every now and again I'd suddenly recall one and spend ages trying to figure out where it's from.

Moderator
Posted by buzz_clik

@Mento said:

I couldn't even decipher how The Sentinel worked.

Oh man, just you mentioning that game is enough to make me wanna go play it. So brilliant.

Moderator
Posted by kalmis

Strange. Another C64 game that I have not played. And I thought I knew my C64 stuff. Maybe Northern European C64 market were slightly different than Australian? Anyway I agree that this song would deserve an epic status. Albeit this being only my first listen. Well second now..

Posted by Absolute_Zero

Didn't realize that Zoids was so old; this song sounds like it would fit well over footage from WW2 or something. To your point of different versions, I'd say that whichever I heard first tends my preferred version (most of the time). Which means I get slagged to no end when I say that I preferred a remix of a song to the original. :X

All in all, and at no surprise, another great song!. I love learning about these games that flew by me, so thanks for that!

Posted by EvilDingo

Never *quite* understood the praise the Parallax-theme always gets. Of cause it is good - but I don't think I would put it in my personal top 25 sids.
I suppose I should hold my critique of that theme for when you actually feature it though. You keep building towards it :-) 
 
Right now I'm a place where I can't listen to music, but I know I'll recognize the Zoids-theme. 
I seem to remember that it is one of those themes, I've only been introduced to in these later years. The game itself is totally unknown to me.

Posted by EvilDingo

Oh yeah! That one!
That one is awesome! (I listened to it now). 
 
It has been a bit disappointing in these later years to find out that most of my favorite sid-melodies in fact were rip-offs of some lesser known hit at the time...  
Hubbard is probably my favorite C64-musician - which made it a bit disappointing to me to find out, that he probably did this practice more than anyone :-(
 
At least he can be considered a good remixer, which his version of the Commando-theme is a testament to. That one blows the arcade version of the theme out of the water.

I too of cause feel that Zoids is way better than Ancestors. 
 
A bit to the point of what @Absolute_Zero said: 
I actually feel that though there are many remixes of Zoids on C64 Remix, and plenty of them get a lot of praise - none of them really appeal to me. 
The original sid still feel way more EPIC (have no problem with the word) than any remix I've heard.

Posted by buzz_clik

@Absolute_Zero said:

Didn't realize that Zoids was so old...

You mean Zoids as a whole franchise? I have great memories of constructing and playing with the toys as a kid in the mid-80s. Every now and then I wonder if the modern equivalents are just as good, and I find myself wanting to purchase a kit.

@EvilDingo said:

It has been a bit disappointing in these later years to find out that most of my favorite sid-melodies in fact were rip-offs of some lesser known hit at the time...

Yeah, I know what you mean. The knowledge doesn't stop a tune from being rad, nor does it instantly erase the nostalgia and good times associated with it, but it definitely leaves me with a weird new itch at the back of my brain.

@EvilDingo said:

Never *quite* understood the praise the Parallax-theme always gets. Of cause it is good - but I don't think I would put it in my personal top 25 sids.

You've actually made me stop and think about whether I'd place it in my top 25. Y'know what? I can't answer that. Would I place it in my top 25 if the criteria were important games from my youth that I instantly think of? No doubt. Is it in my all-time top 25 now that I've got access to the HVSC? Maybe not. But maybe! Probably a shifting mood thing. But I like that you've caused me to pause and think on it.

My description of it certainly conveys how much I like it, though.

Moderator
Posted by Absolute_Zero
@buzz_clik Yeah, I definitely meant as a whole. But maybe Zoids isn't as old as I think (that title screen is 1986, I think?) I just remember watching one of the anime series back in '01.